Issues of Productivity, Employment and Exploitation in Artisanal Silk Industry of West Bengal
Indian Journal of Social and Natural Sciences (ISSN 2277 6117) Vol 4, page 49-68
20 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2016
Date Written: December 01, 2015
Sericulture is an important livelihood option in rural West Bengal providing employment to more than 1 lakh families in the rural and semi-urban areas. The productivity level of sericulture (land and leaf) is not low compared to that of the major silk producing states in the country, which opens further scope to research and analyse about its productivity. This paper has explored several dimensions of its growth pattern during the planning periods of West Bengal. A field level survey in the major silk producing district of West Bengal has exposed few factors like household size and male hired labourers which are positively raising the level of average employment in the sericulture farms, while education level acts as a significant reducing factor, along with mandays involved with the activities. It implies sericulture is still only a popular livelihood activity among the backward people. On the other hand, small holding capacity of the rural farmers and poor economic condition of the artisans have been identified as major impediments in the path of development of sericulture in West Bengal. The rural moneylenders/ traders (dadani mahajan) utilizes this advantage and extracts a major part of the pay-off intruding into the supply chain of the industry. In the textile policy, the objective of the government always centres on the issues like extension of sericulture through acreage and production, ignoring the issues like ‘economic-exploitation’ faced by the artisanal classes at each level of value addition in the supply chain. In the absence of institutional apathy and well-linked credit system in the remote rural areas coupled with financial illiteracy of the rural artisans, the objective of development of artisanal silk industry in West Bengal seems to be far away.
Keywords: Sericulture, Silk Artisan, West Bengal, Employment
JEL Classification: O13, J2, L7
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation