Like a slap on the cheeks, comes the news that the Centre
has rejected the suggestion of the Madras government
as regards the handloom industry. Ministers of our State
make heroic statements on the floor of the Assembly,
that they are not ‘stooges’ at all, and explain with
an amount of even egotism, how their voice is heeded,
their plea understood, then advocacy supported; they
go to the length of saying that the talk about the colossal
power of the Centre is to be given up, as it but reveals
inferiority complex. Their statements are couched in
a language similar to that employed by the bravado.
And they are in a position to enjoy this luxury—for
they are 150 while all the opposing groups could muster
but fifty! Superiority in number in democracy infuses
courage even to the week-kneed, and that is what is
going on, whenever the Ministers of our State make their
But from time to time the Centre administers the slap—and
naturally the State government gets some amount of irritation.
But the charming thought that somehow they could cajole
the Centre, next time if not this time, acts as a soothing
balm, and the Ministers again take up the role of the
They do not seem to realise what an amount of harm they
are doing by their defence of the North. They, we realise,
have to stem the tide of national fervour that is now
surging up in the South, not only to please their masters,
but even to safeguard their position. They fondly hope
to become the ‘favourites’ of Delhi, by their tirade
against the D.M.K.
Faced with a public, which is becoming day by day, more
and more vocal, the ministers of our State, are forced
to offer solutions and schemes, and along with them
an assurance, that their request to the Centre is after
all a formal affair. But when they begin in right earnest
to translate their pious promises into solid realities,
they find the Centre rejecting their proposals. Where
they expect a nod and a pat, they but get a denial and
dismissal. They approach the Centre, exhibiting a sunny
smile, only to receive sneer and a slap.
They make their sojourn to Delhi, with confidence, only
to return back, wailing and whining. And the moment
we point out this shameful state of affairs, they become
petulant and peevish, and exhaust their anger, by showering
the vilest abuses on those who champion the cause of
Mr.Satish Chandra, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry,
answering a question has stated that it was a fact that
the Centre has rejected the Madras Government’s proposal
as regards the handloom problem.
The Congress Government in Madras, in its anxiety to
retain its hold over lakhs of handloom weavers, come
forward from time to time to champion their cause. They
could not allow the handloom weavers, to walk out of
their fold, in despair and anger, for, besides being
weavers, they happen also to be voters! Naturally the
Congress leaders, especially ministers are anxious to
cajole the weavers. Hence they begin pleading their
cause, and even begin analysing the reasons for the
crisis facing the handloom weavers.
They know, the analysis presented by the D.M.K., before
So long as the mill-made textiles from the North compete
with the handloom clothes, there would be chaos and
crisis. The handloom weavers, are lakhs and lakhs in
number, and they have no other alternative avocation.
Unable to withstand the powerful competition from mill
goods from the North, the handloom sector finds desolation
A permanent solution could be found only when this competition
is kept under control.
The mill goods from the North should not be allowed
to glut the market here, to the detriment of the handloom
But to achieve this, the State government has now no
So, only when the South becomes a Sovereign entity,
this problem could be solved on a permanent basis.
For a pretty long time, the Congress party attempted
to ridicule this analysis, and solution. They next tried
to damn the proposal, as dangerous from the national
point of view.
But, they were unable either to solve the problem, or
formulate an alternative scheme for solving the problem.
And they dare not look unconcerned.
They introduced certain palliatives; but the soothing
effects were neither sufficient nor permanent.
So the Congress ministers had to fall in line, and state,
that to safeguard the handloom sector, a radical solution
should be found out. They then adopted the D.M.K., plan,
clothing it of course in an attire of their own making.
The Congress said that certain categories of textiles,
like coloured sarees and bordered dhoties, should be
reserved exclusively for the handloom sector.
This sounded sane and bold—and all parties rallied to
offer their support to this scheme, when C.R.formulated
it, in the shape of a resolution before the State legislature.
By presenting this scheme, the Congress leaders thought
that they have once more established their kinship with
the handloom weavers. But disappointment dogged them.
Delhi refused to even consider the proposal.
Delhi dare not displease the mill magnates of the North—they
were so liberal, especially during the elections. Those
magnates had their emissaries, and agents, in every
forum, legislature, and Congress. And the scheme was
thrown out—though the sponsor, C.R. could claim to have
got the support of all parties.
Had they but exhibited an iota of courage, the moment
the centre refused to implement their proposal, the
history of the handloom weavers would have been different.
But the Congress leaders of our State, had no stomach
for the fight—no back-bone. They lisped out their displeasure,
and were laughed at by Delhi.
The handloom sector should somehow be kept going—for,
a total collapse in the sector would mean a crisis acute
and awkward. Lakhs and lakhs of men and women would
be thrown out of employment and that would be a menace,
which even the politically arrogant, dare not ignore.
So the Congress leaders, began to press for small mercies—and
the rebate system was the outcome of these efforts.
As, Mr.Venkataraman, Minister for Industries and Labour,
points out this week, this ‘rebate’ amount is very meagre,
and even this was about to be stopped some months back;
only the persistent efforts of the ministers saved the
situation to some extent.
Meanwhile, the Textile Enquiry Committee recommended,
a reduction in the volume of output in the handloom
This, a new danger, an added danger, was stoutly opposed
by the Madras Government, and they sent in their suggestion
which was, the volume of production in the handloom
sector should not be reduced; on the other hand the
output from the mills should be cut down.
It is this proposal that has been rejected by the Centre.
The suggestion from Madras, was, it should be remembered,
not total stoppage of importing into this State, mill
made textiles; it was not even the C.R. formula, i.e.
reservation of coloured sarees and bordered dhoties
exclusively to the handloom sector; it was merely a
request to reduce the output of mill goods—or to put
it more correctly, it was a request to the central government
not to reduce the output from the handloom sector.
Even this mild and moderate suggestion is being rejected
by the Centre. And what are our ministers going to do?
Would they raise their voice of protest? Certaining
not! They have to conserve their entire energy to carry
on a campaign of vilification against the D.M.K.
Would they at least refrain from assailing those, who
would and could attempt to warn the Centre about their
attitude towards those unfortunate handloom weavers?
They can’t and won’t. They would rush on to denounce
them, as antimaterialists, talking in terms of North
“The interests of the handloom industry and those of
the textile mills were conflicting. Whenever a concession
was made to mill cloth like the reduction of excise
duty, it adversely affected the handloom industry.
“Certain categories of production like coloured sarees
and bordered dhoties should be reserved for the handloom
Would our readers like to know, who it is, who has explained
the problem so ably? The clarity of thought we find
in this explanation, emanates from that fearless and
peerless Parliamentarian who has had the unique honour
of presenting the State budget, for the eighth time,
Hon’ble C.Subramaniam, unassailable, and unvanquished!
While serving under a different kind of master, C.R.,
this doughty warrior, beat the big drum, and promised
easy and early victory.
Unwilling to embellish his statement, Mr.C.Subramaniam,
has give a flat analysis, teen-agers would do well to
emulate his method.
“That is why we have been pressing hard upon the Central
government that the handloom industry should be protected
because it is not only production that is necessary
that we should give the necessary purchasing power to
the people and that purchasing power can be given and
may be increased only by providing employment to the
people. More and more production without proper increase
in the purchasing power of the people will result in
a crisis and consequent glut in the market. That is
why we have been pressing that the handloom industry
should be protected and not allowed to be ruined. That
is why in the case of he handloom industry we have tried
our level best to stop the large scale flow of mill-made
goods from the North which has resulted in the displacement
from their normal avocations of lakhs and lakhs of our
handloom weavers. No doubt the textile industry should
be allowed to flourish if it would not result in the
displacement of lakhs and lakhs of our handloom weavers,
or if alternative employment could have been found for
them. But that could not be. Our handloom industry is
an ancient industry. Several lakhs of people in our
State are engaged in that industry. We cannot allow
them to be ruined. That is why we have fought hard and
pressed for the complete reservation for the handloom
weavers in the matter of production of dhoties and sarees.”
So spoke the Finance Minister, while perhaps his master,
C.R., was bestowing his benign smile! That was on the
19th of December, 1953.
Not only was that scheme thrown to the dust bin, but
even the milder and more moderate suggestion now made,
has been rejected.
Object but to a single suggestion of his, on the floor
of the Assembly, request him to change a comma or a
colon, dispute anyone of his arguments, question the
efficacy of his logic, we would find the finance minister
fierce and final and a Niagara of scathing condemnation
would pour forth. But watch him now—we would find a
different kind of personality altogether—meek, apologetic,
would be his answer, and the fearlessness would fritter
away—for he is as conscious of the powers of Delhi,
as he is of the acuteness of the problem of the handloom
weavers. Poor souls, they could be cajoled into submission;
not so these at Delhi, in their smile hangs so many
charming possibilities, and their frown might mean a
fall! Having risen to such heights, and by such patient
politics, Mr.C.Subramaniam could not be expected to
rise up in revolt unmindful of the consequence.
The Madras Government, would not have made the suggestion
in any light-hearted manner. Only after weighing the
pros and cons of the problem could they have arrived
at that suggestion which has been rejected. Any democrat
who has not become thick-skinned, would take it an affront
to his self respect, and forthwith announce his intention
to resign. But, not our finance minister—having amassed
such a fine fund of knowledge in all branches, politics,
economics, education, justice, morality and even art!
How could he impoverish the country by his exit! He
would remain at his post, eating his own words, and
belching out bravados as against the D.M.K.
(Sub Editorial - 08-03-1959)