Weakening Powerloom Industry and Allied Technology Factors: A Sociological Study of Siminoi Powerloom Cluster in Odisha

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sambit MALLICK, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India
Debates on science and technology (S&T) in independent India have largely taken place around changes in S&T policy, the role of the State in distinguishable phases ranging from the strong promotion of S&T, pursuit of self-reliance and the dominant role of the state sector under the Nehruvian State to the ongoing phase of State withdrawal, attenuated emphases on self-reliance and indigenous research, and heightened influence of foreign governments and multinational corporations on public policy including in S&T. This analysis has considerable validity in organized industry and is the main current of scientific research in institutions and universities. However, there has been continuity rather than change in the broad area of livelihoods and habitat of rural and petty producers such as agricultural labour, artisans and other off-farm workers and the self-employed in manufacturing, construction or related sectors, and perhaps including the peasantry as well. This huge and persistent systemic chasm in the S&T ecosystem in India has, along with other structural biases and institutional failings, contributed to the now chronic deprivation of these sections, steep decline in the economic weight of their occupations and activities, their disconnect from the development mainstream, and a loss of hope in the future. The powerloom sector in Odisha located in the eastern region of India is no exception to such distress. The purpose of the study is not to reflect upon the demarcation problem (demarcation between two conflicting knowledge systems), but to find out the impediments contributing to the plight of powerloom sector in textile industry in Odisha. In-depth personal interviews with various stakeholders ranging from powerloom weavers, middlemen, cooperative societies, management to government officials indicate how the political construal of authority and expertise leads to a lack of democratic participation in the policymaking processes of this particular industry.