Fourth All India Handloom Census 2019-2020


This report was published in August 2019 by the Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, government of India.

First published in 1987, the Handloom Census provides updated information on weavers, allied workers (those undertaking pre- or post-loom activities) and ‘non-household’ establishments such as co-operative societies. According to its Foreword by Development Commissioner (Handlooms) Sanjay Rastogi, the Fourth All India Handloom Census aims to aid the Ministry of Textiles in distributing ‘Pahchan’ cards – an Aadhaar-linked identity document for artisans – and ‘yarn passbooks’ for weavers.

The Handloom Census covers 31 states and union territories, and 31.45 lakh households engaged in handloom activities. (The report does not include information on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, or Lakshadweep.) It counted a total of 25.45 lakh weaver households – those with at least one member operating a loom within the last year, in the house or outside its premises. The 2019 Handloom Census is the first to enumerate transgenders as a separate category.

The 284-page report has seven chapters: Prologue (Chapter 1); Basic Concepts and Definitions (Chapter 2); Weaver Households (Chapter 3); Allied Workers (Chapter 4); Non-Households (Chapter 5); Looms (Chapter 6) and Production (Chapter 7).


  1. The number of households engaged in handloom activities – weaving and allied households – increased from 27.83 lakhs in 2010 to 31.45 lakhs in 2019. The report notes the number of weaving and allied households to be about 25.45 lakhs and six lakhs respectively.

  2. The handloom sector engages around 26.73 lakh weavers and 8.48 lakh allied workers, and 19.1 lakh weavers and 6.3 lakh allied workers are female.

  3. A majority of the 25.45 lakh weaving households in India are concentrated in four states: Assam (10.9 lakh households), West Bengal (3.4 lakh households), Manipur (2.1 lakh households) and Tamil Nadu (1.7 lakh households).

  4. Nearly 90 per cent or 22.5 lakh weaver households are in rural areas whereas the rest 2.8 lakh households are in urban areas.

  5. A fourth of the weavers have not received any formal education, and 14 per cent have not finished primary education. At 68.2 per cent, Goa has the highest proportion of weavers who have completed high school, followed by Maharashtra (60.6 per cent), Manipur (40.6 per cent), Telangana (33.6 per cent) and Himachal Pradesh (32.6 per cent).

  6. Other Backward Classes (OBCs) form 34.6 per cent of the weaving households in India, followed by general castes (31.3 per cent), Scheduled Tribes (19.9 per cent) and Scheduled Castes (14.1 per cent). Apart from the north-eastern states (excluding Assam), Bihar also has a significantly high ST population engaged in weaving, at 57 per cent.

  7. About 60.2 per cent of handloom worker households live in kuchha homes, 21.2 per cent live in pucca homes, and 18.7 per cent live in ‘semi-pucca’ homes.

  8. Less than a fourth of the 26.73 lakh weavers enumerated had bank accounts and only about four per cent were insured. Roughly 3.4 per cent of weaver households had taken on debt or loans.

  9. At 66.3 per cent, most weaver households earn less than Rs. 5,000 a month.

  10. The report calculates the average days spent in weaving activity in the past year to be 208 per person – 262 in urban areas and 201 in rural areas.

  11. Among male weavers, 75.6 per cent are full-time and 24.4 per cent are part-time workers. At the same time, 39.4 per cent of the female weavers work full time and 60.6 work part time. However, a higher proportion of female weavers work independently as compared to males.

  12. The majority of allied workers come from general castes (37.6 per cent), followed by OBCs (34.4 per cent), STs (14.2 per cent) and SCs (13.9 per cent).

  13. About 27.1 per cent female allied workers and 20.5 per cent male allied workers have not received any formal education, whereas 2.4 per cent of female and 4.7 per cent of male workers are graduates.

  14. Non-household units employ nearly two lakh handloom workers. At 70.3 per cent, most of the 5,457 non-household units covered by the 2019 Handloom Census are co-operative societies. Assam accounted for the highest number of these units (31.3 per cent) followed by Tamil Nadu (14.7 per cent) and Nagaland (11.7 per cent). The state of Meghalaya did not report having any such units.

  15. The report enumerated a total of 28.2 lakh handlooms across India – 25.2 lakh in rural areas and 2.9 lakh in urban areas. Most of these (95.6 per cent) were found in handloom weaver households. In rural India, 41.7 per cent of looms are pit looms, 31.8 per cent are frame looms, 15.3 are loin looms and the rest are other types.

  16. The report provides information on the products and fabrics made by the major handloom states. It states that 22.9 per cent or 6.83 lakh weaver households produce sarees; 26.7 per cent or 7.97 lakh households produce Mekhala Chadors, scarfs, stoles and mufflers; and 19.5 per cent or 5.8 lakh households produce dhotis, sarongs and lungis.

  17. The dyes and chemicals used by the handloom industry are usually sourced by wholesaling agents from Gujarat and Maharashtra. Organic dyes have limited usage, but there has been a shift in interest in natural products in recent years.

  18. Of the 31.45 lakh handloom workers, 64.1 per cent sell their produce in the open market, 17.6 to ‘master weaver’ households (where more than half of the handloom workers are hired workers) and 8.8 per cent through co-operative societies. The use of e-commerce portals, exports and organised fairs is not common among these direct producers.

    Focus and Factoids by Karthik Teegalapalli.


Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, New Delhi


Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, New Delhi


Aug, 2019