Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weavers of Lohta in Varanasi at German Radio


India Weber vor dem Aus By Achim Nuhr India is emerging as an economic power, poverty and hunger in the country are still pervasive. For seven years, the proportion of undernourished children in India is growing even again significantly and currently stands at 53 percent of all children. The district on the outskirts of Varanasi Lothario at first looks like a slum: The walls of the houses are made of exposed-brick, many of whom are under way dark or greenish. Iron beams jutting from the walls and roofs. The roads are not paved, malaria mosquitoes breed in puddles and the lawns between the houses are littered with garbage. Here to stay primarily Weber. But the people must one day be gone better: Because the houses are built of stone, not from boxes or cans, as is common in Indian slums. Electricity pylons and cables neatly moved testify that people relate to their current legal, rather than tap into power cables. However, no one seems to relate more power, even light bulbs remain unused, instead, in most homes burn candles. Also in the Driess by Mohamad: "Until ten years we have lived Weber well. We were able to sell our products at a profit. We have eaten three times a day and take good clothes. But in ten years it is all downhill: Today we can hardly earn a dollar a day. We no longer have enough to eat. And what should I do if my children need time to see a doctor? " Mohamad looks bad: skinny body, emaciated face, which affects the nose oversized. He sits beside his hand-loom, which he has laid his hands on his lap. For a long time he has done nothing. And what he's going to feed his family, he did not know either. As Mohamad is now many weavers in Lothario, or in other neighborhoods weavers of Varanasi. Most of the looms stand still, to many lies a thick layer of dust. There is unemployment, grinding poverty. But this was not always so. For centuries, the weavers were able to survive on its handmade silk saris, which were sold throughout the country, quite well. The demand and sales in the country were good. Many products from the Weber metropolis were also exported abroad. But those days are over. Now there is famine - a fight for survival. And not everyone succeeds. The latest victim was a two-year Mohamad's son. His mother could not breast feed him after the birth, because she herself was too hungry. Finally, there was a lack of red blood cells to the baby - a typical, life-threatening symptom of starving people. Mohamad writhes on his stool. The memory of the tragic death of his son and that he could not help him, caused him pain. "He could take nothing more to it, neither food nor drink. We took him to hospital. The doctor said he needed a blood transfusion. But my wife and I were too weak to donate blood. I still need to cry today when I think that I could give my own son, no blood. The neighbors tried to help us. They collected money for a treatment: around eight euros. But it was too late. "My son died the same day. " Varanasi has approximately 1.2 million inhabitants. The city is located in north-eastern India and is internationally known as a religious center which countless pilgrims to the banks of the holy river Ganges, attracts, and just as the center of the weaving. Almost half the population is economically dependent on the textile industry. But as the market for handmade silk saris ever shrank and eventually collapsed completely, there was no alternative for them. The weavers were left alone in their struggle for survival. The responsible politicians and administrators tried to banish famine and misery in the Walker district. Official information about starving or even starving citizens still do not exist. But then the media reported about the fate of the weavers of Varanasi. And so the death of Mohamad's son did not go unnoticed: "Even before the death of my son's newspaper journalists and TV reporters were present in the area. You've visited us here and then reports on the famine among the weavers. Suddenly came in the wake of the City manager to us personally over. It was he who initiated, that my son could be made shortly before his death at all to the hospital. For the eight euro, had collected our neighbors were not sufficient. The doctor was very disrespectful though: He beat me even in the face and yelled at me that I should Kindly give my son to eat, so he does not die. I would have done that very much. But we had nothing to eat. " For centuries, the Indian government to protect the traditional Weber: Up to the 90s, she granted them a monopoly for 22 popular types of clothing, such as the traditional silk saris for brides could only be manufactured here. International Importers thwarted by high protective tariffs, which was protected by the Indian market. Then came the economic reforms: protection rules and rights have been removed, under the heading of "bureaucracy". Many of protective tariffs have been sharply reduced or completely disappeared. The small weavers who were previously long been completely sealed off from the world market, delivered to him were suddenly almost defenseless. KP Berma, deputy director of the Center for Hand Weaving, it looks different, however: "When a weaver's really good, he still has enough money and food. Only he who is not well developed, has problems. Okay, some weavers have committed suicide. But there is no single, which had had nothing to eat. In Varanasi There is no nutritional problems. There is only a few social problems, diseases and other ailments. " KP Berma advised to speak with the "really good weavers", for example, with Aftaba Alam. Weber, who also lives in the District Lothario, just a few blocks from the family Driess. The first impression is good: in the family hut, there are four looms and two will even work. Mr Alam confirmed for his family business at first a positive trend: "A year ago we could hardly afford one meal a day. Now we eat three times a day and slowly again. We now take vitamin D pills. Therefore, my children develop into good again. But from a normal state here in Lothario, one can not but speak. That would only happen if all parents could feed themselves and their children back then. " Mr. Alam has just a lucky streak. His family is traditionally produces high quality Patolasaris and have evolved over the past few months, the latest fad: the new rich in India scramble for them. Only six months ago they were still saris as shop keepers. But really happy Alam has no effect anyway. He knows: Who counts in the new times, just to the winners, may tomorrow be back on the losing side. "We're doing at the moment so well because we produce in the latest fashion. But at some point over too. The market can turn at any time and we will be hungry again, as our neighbors."

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