Clusters
 
SANTIPUR HANDLOOM CLUSTER
 
Nadia is basically the name of one of the districts in West Bengal. As such there is no place called Nadia. Handloom activities are spread up in many parts of the district. The Clustering Phenomena of Handlooms can be noted at Ranaghat I & II, Phulia, Santipur, Nabadeep & Nakshipara/ Rajapur. The loom position availability of weavers and the product profile of the places are as under:
 
Sl. Handloom clusters of Nadia Product Estimated Number
of Looms
Present Trend
1 Ranaghat I & II Coarser Saree, Lungi, Gamcha, Furnishing, Fabric 2000 Decline
2 Phulia & Adjoining Tangile Saree, Jamdani Saree, Dress Material, Exportable Fabrics 12000 Prospering
3 Santipur Santipuri Saree, Exportable Fabrics 20000 Prospering
4 Nabadeep Coarser Saree, Lungi, Gamcha, Jamdani, Shirting 2000 Decline
5 Nakshipara/ Rajapur Jamdani Exportable Fabrics 1000 Decline
Source:- Focused Group Discussion with WSC, HDO & Cluster Actors
 
During discussions, it is learnt that Phulia is the leader and Santipur is the follower. Phulia is basically a well-developed place. But the major keynote aspect in the selection process is that the weavers, which form the critical mass in Phulia, are from the North Bengal, coming work as labours, but whereas in Santipur the weavers are locally settled. In Phulia there is floating population. It may be noted that Phulia is one of the locations in Santipur Block, whereas Santipur (U) is the other local location with local weaver concentration. From the cluster mapping the clustering was very significant in Santipur Municipal area. Thus the place of work is selected as Santipur (U), within the municipal limits.

Santipur is 90 kms away from Kolkata and is well connected by both train and road services.
 
A glance at the number of looms recorded during the second Handloom Census justifies the selection of Santipur as the place of work for the Cluster Development Work as because the total number of the looms in the block excluding the Santipur Municipality is 13,887 whereas at the Santipur (U) Municipality itself the loom number is 10610.

Many intellectual were very critical on the number as they find it on lower side. From the current scenario it was clearly visible that the industry has grown manifolds. By applying the growth rates and the consistency, checks it is estimated that the cluster has 20000 working looms as on date. The number of non working looms would work out to be 2000 - 3000 looms, because of various reasons like non - availability of Labour and capital.
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Evolution of the Cluster
The weaving activity was initiated in 1409, during the regime of Gaur Ganesh Danu Mardhandev. Saree weaving was practiced during 1683 - 1694 during the ruling of Nadia king Rudra Roy. The production got systematized and was well organized leading to good recognition during the period of Mughal empire. Saree was exported to Afghanistan, Iran, Arab Greece & Turkey. The healthy trend continued till the early twentieth century.

The British controlled the industry through their East India Company. Those who opposed were severely punished. Finally the control of East India Company came to an end with the intervention of Governor General Kolkata, for the Common representation of grief of the united weavers.

The product had its unique specific proposition in the market for its quality of yarn used in weaving. Hand Spun Yarn of 250 - 300 s, which is beyond the scope of mill, was used for weaving, which could counterfeit even the imported cotton yarn of Manchester.

Shri Darga Das Kastha subsequently introduced barrel Dobby during 1920 - 1925, facilitating the conversion of the throw shuttle to Fly Shuttle. Later Shri Debbendra Nath Mukherjee introduced the Jacquard Machine, and this facilitated a broader cross section of new designs in the Market. It is learnt that 100 hook capacity Jacquard was first installed by Shri Jatindra Nath Lohori for producing varieties during the third decade of twenty century. During the same time sectional warping and sizing was introduced by Shri Hazari to produce a warp of 350 yards in length. The Santipur sarees in the past were very popular for the fine & uniform texture. The sarees are termed as per the design used in the extra warp meant for side border. The ground base is Cotton but the extra warp or border different textiles yarns Muga, Twisted Cotton, Zari, Gold & silver are used.

The Bengal Small Scale Aids Industry Act during the early eighties (1980 - 83), was instrumental support of the government for the growth of the Handloom industry. As per the act financial aid to a maximum of Rs 10,000/- in shape of 50% grant & 50 % Loan was provided to the individual weavers for purchase of looms and Margin money.

During the mid eighties and later in the mid nineties 1995, there were weaver movements for the wage hikes but were unsuccessful for the suppression by Mahajans.
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Structure of Cluster
 
Core Cluster Actors
The Core actors of the cluster are the weavers, master weavers. The evolution of the weavers into the Master Weavers tells about the organic relation that these core cluster actors enjoy amongst themselves. This further shows how the growth of the cluster has provided opportunities to a weaver to develop into a master weaver.
 
Master Weavers
Previously this category of weavers were engaged in weaving only, but today they undertake the overall responsibility of supplying the raw material to the weavers, provide the design and pay wages to the grass root level weavers; and then supply the sarees to Mahajans. Mahajans provide design and colour information and a better price realisation for the saree, but on the other hand make the transactions on credit. There are around 700 master weavers actively involved in production activities of the cluster. It is estimated that in total, these master weavers have 16,050 working looms, and equal number of weavers working as labours. A part of the production of master weavers is also sold in the local haat of Santipur. The modal unit size of the master weavers is 4 looms. There are few master weavers having 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 looms under one shed. The master weavers apart from the weaving earning of one loom earn profit margins from the products weaved on the loom engaged by the labour
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Weavers
There are about 20,000 working looms and 60,000 persons involved directly / indirectly in the weaving and preparatory activities. The women basically undertake the preparatory works like separation of hanks, sizing, pirn winding. There are around 111 different weaving communities namely the "Pramanik" , "Kastha" , "Dalal" , "Khan" etc. etc. Majority of the weavers belong to Tantuvay community. All the weavers have good weaving skills for weaving saree on Jacquard looms. The average earning of the weaver family is in the range of Rs. 1500 - Rs. 2000 per month.
 
Dyers
Dyeing is basically carried out in the dyeing unit. There are about 90 units doing dyeing as a commercial activity. These units, based on the quantity of yarn dyed are categorized into large, medium and small units. 60% of the total yarn sales are in the coloured yarn form, and the remaining 40% is in the grey form. The yarn traders employ the large and medium scale for dyeing where as the small-scale unit does the job work for the master weavers.
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Designers
There are about 100 small designers in the cluster, who do designing work on their own creativity and imagination. They neither have a formal education nor a mechanism to update their knowledge skills. For Lack exposure their skill are traditional based. Their main role in the cluster is to do costing for the master weaver, and supply them the punch cards for the Jacquard.
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Other Cluster Actors
 
Raw Material Suppliers
The main raw material required for the cluster is cotton yarns 100S, 80S, 2/120S ,2/80S, zari, art silk yarns. Cotton yarns are obtained from the traders/supplier of Barabazar - Kolkata. Barabazar traders/suppliers procure these yarns from the small scale spinners of Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu. There are 100 yarn traders at Santipur (urban) supplying the above stated types of yarn, dye staff and chemicals. The Dye used for dyeing is mostly direct dyes, Vat dyes, Sulphur dyes, Napthol dyes. Use of Direct dyes is 50%, VAT is 25%, Napthol is 15%, & Sulphur is 10%.
 
Equipment Suppliers
There are round 100 loom manufacturers and suppliers, and the average rate of sale of new looms is 8 looms per year. Mostly fly shuttle looms of width 52 - 56 inches are being used in the cluster with 100 to 150 hooks Jacquard. 99% of the looms have Jacquard attachment. Few looms of the SHG's were noted to be without Jacquard. These suppliers source the Jacquard m/c from Kolkata at an average price range of Rs. 6000/- per m/c (100 hooks), Rs. 8000/- per m/c (150 hooks). The average cost of Jacquard m/c works out to Rs. 4800/- without accessories.
 
Mahajans / Traders
There are around 700 registered traders with the Taant Vastra Vyabsayee Samiti and they are the key persons carrying out the marketing activities. These traders initially supply the design and colour combination to the master weavers and the master weaver arranges the production. The traders in turn supply these sarees to the traders of Bara Bazar, Kolkata. From Kolkata these products are distributed to different districts of the state and to other national markets.
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Production Process
 
The Santipur Cluster produces products like sarees, Dhotis and stoles but productions of dhotis and Stoles are very negligible. The various steps involved in the production of the saree in Santipur cluster are given in page no- 11. Some of the important processes are discussed below.

The basic raw material of the cluster is cotton yarn, procured in the form of hank by the weavers / master weavers from the local yarn dealers and Mahajans. Besides cotton yarn the cluster also uses art silk and golden zari for designing. The cotton yarns procured are of 1/100s, 1/82s, 2/40s and the art silk filaments are of 2/120 denier. The grey yarn requires further processing before being put on the loom for weaving.
 
Bleaching & Dyeing
Prior dyeing, the cotton yarns are bleached with Bleaching Powder for light and medium shades. However, Bleaching is not used for very dark shades. The cluster uses different types of dyes namely Direct, VAT, Sulphur and Naphthol dyes, depending on nature of the colour and dyeing cost paid by master weavers and Mahajans. The yarns are bleached and dyed in the form of hank and latter dried in sun light putting on bamboo bars. The process sequences of cotton yarns bleaching and dyeing are given below:
 
Sizing
Sizing is a process where starch (sago or Boiled Rice or Khoi) is coated on the warp yarns for imparting strength; enhance abrasion resistance to withstand the stress and strains exerted during weaving process. There by it reduces the yarn breakage and improves quality and efficiency of weaving.

The loom sizing is also carried out after weaving to reduce reed marks, to impart stiffness to the fabric to bring into proper look.
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Warping and Beaming
The warping is a process of making desired length and width of warp sheet by combining many small packages called bobbins/spools. The process of warping used in Santipur is known as sectional warping. Sectional warping process is carried on a wooden drum from a wooden peg creel. The Sectional warping process facilitates warp patterning and handling delicates fine spun and filament yarn.

The process of transferring warp sheet to a weavers beam to mount on loom is called beaming. All these processes are carried out by manually without using power. In Santipur the warping length generally varies from 40 to 70 sarees.
 
Pirn Winding
After dyeing and sizing of weft yarns, the weft package called pirn is prepared on Charkha. Pirn winding is the process of transferring the yarns from the hanks into bobbin/pirn of the shuttles used in the weft while weaving. The rotation of the Charkha is carried out by hands. A pirn consist of 400 to 500 metres of yarn of 100s counts.
 
Preparation of Loom
Preparation of the loom for weaving is done by the skilled weavers and the process involves the following activities
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Drafting and Denting
The process of drawing in/ passing the warp yarn through the healds of the loom as per the draft of the design to be woven is known as drafting. This helps in the future process of weaving for easy locating of broken ends and also helps in the designing processes. Generally sarees are always woven in plain and drawn in straight pattern. The extra warp in body and boarder are drawn through harness cord of jacquard for designing.

Denting is a process of passing the yarn through the reed. The process helps in maintaining the width of fabric during weaving, beating up of weft yarn into fell of the cloth and the reed guides the shuttle during weaving. In Santipur 2 ends are drawn through one dent during denting and latter 2 ends remains un-disperse even after weaving and sells in market as it. And this gives an identification of Santipur sarees in the markets.
 
Setting up of Jacquard
Prior to start of the weaving process, the weaver sets the design of the saree border for border design and the body buttas with the help of extra warp. The respective ends of the design are tied to an attachment called jacquard. This process takes around 3 to 4 hours or more depending on the nature of the design and capacity of jacquard. This Jacquard designs gives lots of value addition to the fabric during weaving. And very often weft butta are produced during weaving by inserting weft threads by hand. This processes is time consuming and tedious.
 
Weaving
The weaving is performed by the skilled weavers of the family. The looms being used are mainly traditional fly shuttle pit looms with jacquards.
 
Designing
Designing through jacquard is the most value addition option for the cluster. New Designs are collected from various sources by the Mahajans and converts into new jacquard designs with the help of local designers. Some times local designers also introduce some new designers out of their creativity.  Designing in the clusters are done through Tie and die borders, extra warps and extra weft and boarders designs with jacquards. The motives of the designs are floral, leaves and trees, geometric motifs, abstract and temples and sometimes animal / kalka motifs. However floral and geometric motives are most popular.
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