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At present only silk farming is covered under the job scheme ‘MGNREGS’ under which workers are provided the mandatory wage of depending on states and Union territories, for 100 days a year. However, the textile ministry has been seeking the extension of the MGNREGS to the entire textile and garment sector, which is the largest job provider after agriculture.

The move was mooted as a part of a strategy to ensure skill development on a large scale. Textile minister, Santosh Kumar Gangwar had last year sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help for this purpose. The textiles ministry has approached the rural development ministry afresh, seeking the extension of the government’s rural job scheme to handloom weavers, according to a senior government official.

The textiles ministry argues that although the weavers are not unskilled workers, they earn very less and still stick to the profession due to family tradition and “love of art”, a fact that needs to be acknowledged. The average daily income for many of them often falls below the mandatory wage provided to unskilled workers under the MGNREGS.

The handloom sector provides employment to 4.33 million people across 2.38 million handlooms in the country. It accounts for 11 per cent of India’s textile production and makes a significant contribution in export earnings. 


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