Introduction: Cottage industries occupy an important place in the economy of the district since times immemorial. They provided a source of livelihood to numerous artisans and craftsmen who were well-known for their skill and workmanship. The village craftsmen catered to the needs of the community in respect of various agricultural implements, domestic articles, furniture, clothing, footwear and a variety of articles of daily use and luxury goods. The chief crafts in Sholapur in the past were dyeing of yarn, hand-loom weaving of cotton cloth and woollen blankets, spinning, oil-pressing, and working in gold and silver, copper and brass, iron, stone, earth, wood and leather. The hand-loom weaving at Sholapur had earned a great reputation in western India. Indigo dyeing and printing was an important industry which attracted buyers from the large part of the then Bombay Presidency.

However, with the advent of machine-made goods the demand for the handicrafts and village industries declined to such an extent that hundreds of craftsmen had to face unemployment or under-employment. This had an adverse impact on the economic condition of the craftsmen who were forced to take resort to agricultural labour.

The problem of underemployment of the village craftsmen and artisans received the attention of the Government during the post-Independence period, with the result that a considerable effort is put in to ameliorate their economic lot. The new measures comprise organisation of co-operative societies of artisans, providing financial help to them and encouraging adoption of improved tools and methods of production. The co-operatives are in fact a great boon upon which the artisans look with great hope and as a means of improvement of their economic lot. The co-operatives also help the artisans by undertaking sale of the produce which by itself is very beneficial to the artisans.

As per the Census of 1961, of the 2,48,771 workers engaged in industries, 65,706 or about 27 per cent were working in household industries.

As per 1971 Census, 33,156 persons are engaged in household industries in the district. The classification of household units and the number of persons employed therein as per 1961 and 1971 Censuses is given in Tables Nos. 10 and 11.

The important cottage industries in the district are as under:—

Hand-loom weaving, tanning, leather working, fibre working, bamboo working, oil-pressing, carpentry, smithy, dyeing and printing, silk processing, pottery, brick making and lime burning, bidi making, metal working, soap making and miscellaneous industries like kunku making, agarbatti making, and cap manufacturing.

Most of the cottage industries are hereditary in character followed by persons belonging to certain castes only. Mobility of labour in these industries is not conspicuous.

Industrial co-operatives: With a view to improving the lot of artisans and expanding production of consumer goods, considerable emphasis is laid by the Government for creating a sound structure of industrial co-operatives. The cottage industries are generally faced with many difficulties in connection with raw materials, finance and marketing. These industries often require materials produced by large-scale industries. The artisans have often to pay unduly high price for their raw material because of middlemen. The Bombay Industrial and Economic Enquiry Committee Report recommended the organisation of cottage workers into associations, to secure them the benefits of large-scale organisation. The work of encouraging the co-operatives of craftsmen and providing financial as well as other assistance to them is entrusted by the Government to the Zilla Parishad authorities.

During 1968-69, there were 166 hand-loom weavers' co-operatives, eighteen powerloom weavers' co-operatives, ten wool weavers' cooperatives and two khadi weavers' co-operatives in the district. Besides these weavers' societies, many other industrial societies based on cooperation have been registered in the district.

The following statement shows the number of such co-operatives existing in 1968 and 1969:—

Types of industrial co-operatives


Newly registered




(1) Industrial Banks





(2) Combined Co-operatives





(3) Labourers' Societies





(4) Oil-producers' Societies





(5) Rope-making Societies





(6) Leather Workers' Societies





(7) Tanners' Societies





(8) Carpenters' and Blacksmiths' Societies.





(9) Metal Producers' Societies





(10) Potters' Societies





(11) Neera and Palm Societies





(12) Women's Co-operative Societies..





(13) Tailoring Societies





(14) Industrial Housing Societies





(15) Light Engineering Societies





(16) Printing Societies





(17) Other Societies










Table No. 12 gives the position of industrial co-operative societies in the district (excluding weavers' co-operatives).

There were six types of industrial co-operatives in the district for the welfare of backward classes in June 1969. They included co-operatives of tanners (5), leather and footwear makers (8), rope makers (29), village industrialists (3), manufacturers of fertilisers (2), and labour contract societies (66).

The Government has undertaken several schemes for training the workers engaged in the wool and cotton weaving, coir, tanning and leather work, carpentry and smithy. These training schools help to enrich the technical knowledge of craftsmen. A wool weaving peripatetic school and a training and production centre in wool and wool weaving are working at Balawadi and Mahud, respectively, both in Sangola taluka. There is a Government Production Centre in chrome and upper picking bands at Sholapur.

The Maharashtra State Village Industries Board in collaboration with the All-India Khadi and Village Industries Commission has undertaken the development of khadi industries, hand-made paper industry, village industries workshop, leather industry, etc.

The Village Industries Committee had undertaken various schemes in the then Bombay State for the development of village industries. The Village Industries Committee (1951) reports that it had undertaken six schemes in Sholapur district as given below:—

(i) General Khadi Self-Sufficient Scheme (katai mandal): Under this scheme three centres are working in the district..

(ii) Oil-Ghani Industry Scheme: Under this scheme three centres are working in the district.

(iii) General Khadi Self-Sufficiency Scheme: Under this scheme two centres are working in the district.

(iv) Yarn Scarcity Relief Scheme: Under this scheme three centres are working in the district.

(v) Manufacture of Chalk Scheme: Under this scheme only one centre is working in the district.

(vi) Saranjam Karyalaya: Under this scheme one centre is working in the district. During the year 1949-50, the value of the implements manufactured by this Karyalaya was Rs. 17,732 and the subsidy paid was Rs. 1,772.

Handloom weaving industry [A Socio-Ecvnomic Survey of Weaving Communities in Sholapur. by R. G. Kakade.]: The development of handloom weaving industry in Sholapur seems to have commenced in the regime of the Peshwas. The settlement of Madhavrao Peth (the present Mangalwar Peth) in Sholapur some time in the last quarter of the eighteenth century proved an attraction to many trading and artisan families from the Nizam's territory. They included some families of caste weavers such as Khetri, Momin etc. Padmashalis maintain that they came to Sholapur at the invitation of the Peshwas. They were followed by some Togati families. But owing to the unsettled political and civil conditions prevailing in the district during that period the industry was not concentrated in Sholapur to any significant extent. In 1818, when Sholapur fort was about to be besieged by the British army, some weavers resorted to the fort for protection, while some others fled to villages round about Sholapur as far as Vairag near Barshi. After some years of British management, peace and order was restored in Sholapur and it again became a resort of traders and artisans. As a result, Sholapur began to grow steadily in importance as a trade centre. The improvement and extension of roads and the increasing availability of better and cheaper means of communications also helped the handloom weaving industry in the district to thrive. The extension of the railway line upto Sholapur in 1860 accelerated the expansion of the industry and by 1872 there were reported to be 6,425 looms for cotton cloth, 4,250 weavers, 310 dyers and 840 spinners of thread in Sholapur. But it seems that either the number of looms must be incorrect or the number of weavers is wrongly calculated. Slowly, the trade in handloom products of Sholapur extended beyond the Deccan districts to the districts of the Central Provinces, Berar and Hyderabad (Deccan). As a result of this thriving trade, the number of handlooms in Sholapur gradually increased. Relief to weavers in their own craft during the famines of 1896-97 and 1900-1901 enabled the industry to regain its pre-famine position. By 1903 the number of looms in Sholapur again rose to about 7,850. During the Great War of 1914-1918 the competition of mills with the handlooms was almost absent as the mills were pre-occupied with war necessities and a portion of the civil demands. So there were no significant fluctuations in the number of working looms during the same period. The post-war period, however, witnessed a further development of the industry till about 1925. From that period onwards, the industry began to decline as a result of the increasing competition of mills and power-looms.

The rise of the modern factory in India in the seventies of the last century altered the organisation of the local hand-loom weaving industry. There were numerous small independent artisan weavers in the industry. Each artisan-house had one or two looms which were generally handled by the head of the family. The family was the unit of work and the women and the children helped the weaver in preparatory processes and in some cases in dyeing also.

In brisk seasons, these families also employed outside labour. Each individual bought, in small instalments, his raw materials from the local yarn dealer on credit, made the fabrics in his house and sold them in the market on bazar days and had to invest his little capital in looms. The finished articles were generally sold to local cloth dealers. Steadily but surely there was rising a class of workers who worked in their own houses but for some export dealers. With the expansion of trade and industry export dealers began to get articles produced by wveavers to order. The karkhana, as a unit of work, began to make its appearance in the industry during the period. Whatever the size of the unit of the work, the processes were primitive, the throw-shuttle being almost exclusively used. Small invisible changes were occurring in the organisation of industry with the passage of time. A family remained a unit of work, but the karkhana system began to be increasingly adopted. The changes were also occurring in technical branch as the fly-shuttle began steadily to displace the old throw-shuttle and a gradual specialisation of the preliminary processes of sizing and warping by a different group of workers also developed. The export dealer became a permanent and indispensable feature of the industry. The dependence of the weaver on yarn dealer-cum-cloth dealer was increasing due to lack of finance. Alongwith other changes, styles of production also underwent changes. Till the sixties of the nineteenth century, when the competition of mill-made cloth began to be felt, Sholapur used to produce cloth of various styles. The production of most of the units was of coarse counts as it was produced for local consumption. As the local industry could not satisfy the increasing demand in Sholapur for different kinds of goods they had to be imported from outside. By 1839, Sholapur was a depot for coarse cotton cloth, saris, etc., from the surrounding districts. In 1860, English yarn which was finer and cleaner than local hand-made yarn was available within the reach of the weavers due to extension of railway line upto Sholapur during the same year. The English yarn was generally used by Momins. Their products were in great demand especially during the marriage season from January to June.

Since the time of Peshwas, the proportion of weavers belonging to different castes to the total number of weavers has also been changing. Sholapur being in the hands of Muhammedan rulers for the greater part of its history, there were a large number of Momin weavers in Sholapur, who were probably local converts of the Koshti or Sali class. Since 1940, the industry is mostly in the hands of Padmashali weavers. During the same period, some non-weaving communities seemed to have made their appearance in the industry mostly in the preparatory processes. Table No. 13 gives the findings of the survey of the weaving communities in Sholapur conducted in 1939. Barring unavoidable fluctuations such as migratory movements, the census of weaving communities gave a fairly correct picture of weavers' population in Sholapur.

As per the Census Report of 1941, 17,250 weavers were engaged in hand-loom weaving industry. The Census also states that 14,000 looms were at work in Sholapur while about 5,000 looms were at work in the different villages of the district.

Besides Sholapur, the other prominent centres of this industry in the district are Sangola, Karkamb, Valsang, Jawale, Wagdari, Tolnur and Karjagi.

As per 1961 Census, 1,224 persons were engaged in cotton weaving in power-looms. Of these, 118 persons worked in household weaving industry. The Census recorded that 29,852 persons were engaged in cotton weaving in hand-looms. Out of these, 25,304 were working in the household and the remaining in the non-household industry. At the end of May 1961, there were 24,578 cotton handlooms in the district which were next in number to Nagpur district which had the highest number (36,700) in the State. Side by side, the power-loom industry has also developed and on 31st March 1959, there was one art silk weaving unit and about 130 cotton power-looms in the district. Table No. 14 gives the statistics relating to handlooms and power-looms in the district during 1964-65 and 1965-66.

Table No. 14 reveals that North Sholapur has the largest number of hand-looms followed by Akkalkot; while Karmala taluka does not possess either hand-loom or power-loom units. In 1958-59, out of the 23,680 handlooms existing in the district, 8,842 hand-looms or 33 per cent were managed by the co-operative societies. In rural areas, about 90 per cent were brought under the co-operative fold, whereas in Sholapur city, not more than 20 per cent were under the co-operative fold. During the year 1961-62, of the total of 27,378 hand-looms, 9,013 or about 32 per cent were under co-operative fold. During 1963-64 the number of hand-looms registered increased to 30,228, and so also the number of hand-looms under co-operative fold. The number of hand-looms registered further increased to 30,566 during 1964-65 and to 33,369 during 1965-66 and decreased to 25,900 in 1974-75.

Out of 25,900 hand-looms in the district (in 1974-75), 16,101 were under the co-operative fold, while 9,799 were privately owned providing employment to 1.54 lakh persons. The details about hand-looms and power-looms in the co-operative sector are as under:—


Name of town/village

Number of

Number of persons employed





Sholapur City















Maindargi, Karjagi, Wagdari



































The co-operative movement sought to help weavers in three ways: firstly by providing easy credit facilities to them and relieving them from the clutches of money-lenders, secondly by purchasing raw materials required for the industry at reasonable prices, and selling their manufactures as their agents, thus eliminating the profits of middlemen, and lastly by organising producers' societies.

As per the 1961 Census, there were 51 hand-loom weavers' cooperative societies. The number rose to 73 in 1963-64, to 166 in 1968-69, and to 287 in 1974-75. There are in all 19 powerloom weavers' co-operatives in the district at present.

Table No. 15 shows the progress achieved by the hand-loom weavers' co-operatives from 1966-67 to 1968-69.

The Sholapur District Weavers' Central Co-operative Association Ltd., Sholapur, came into existence in 1930. It was formed by amalgamating two different co-operative societies, one of which was Weavers' Urban Co-operative Credit Society and another a Central Co-operative Union.

At Sholapur, a considerable number of artisans work on a system known as asami. The asamis work on contract basis for the karkhandars who are capitalist dealers among the weavers. They are given cash advances. The system of business at Sholapur proper differs from that followed in the villages. The weavers in the villages prepare coarse varieties of sarees and pasodies. They sell their goods directly in the neighbouring markets.

The financiers detail the type of products to the asamis and the skill ot the asamis lies in adjusting supply with the demand. Asami enters into price contract with a merchant or a karkhandar from whom he gets his supply of yarn and to whom he is bound to return cloth turned out. The artisan gets a mere subsistence wage. The asami in turn employs weavers on contract basis. These workers stay in the premises of the asamis.

In 1940, the number of asamis was 900. The asamis however were very indifferent to their difficulties and grievances ever since the asami system came into vogue in Sholapur. The asamis as a class were very poor, illiterate and miserably lacking in organising capacity. The initiative to start the Asamis Sangh was taken up by some karkhandars in 1939. It was started as a weapon to combat the application of the Factories Act to the local hand-loom industry.

Some of the objects of the Hand-loom Asamis Sangh in Sholapur were: (i) to safeguard the interests of the asamis, (ii) to see that asamis as well as wage-workers made a living on the industry, and (iii) to strive for the addition of the system of price contract. No information about the activities of the Asamis Sangh at present is available.

At present there are two associations of hand-loom weavers in the district, viz., (i) Sholapur District Weavers' Co-operative Federation Ltd. and (ii) Western Maharashtra Weavers' Co-operative Mandal Ltd.

The Sholapur District Weavers' Co-operative Federation Ltd., Sholapur was founded in 1950 as a co-operative federation. All the primary weavers' co-operatives in the district are connected with this federation. This society mainly aims at providing raw material at reasonable rates to all the primary weavers' co-operatives connected with the federation. The federation also helps in marketing the products of weavers' co-operatives as also in opening shops, for the disposal of their products. The federation has four branches to look after its work, relating to purchase of raw-material, marketing, bleaching, finishing, and sizing.

The following statement gives details about the working of !he federation in 1967-68 and 1968-69:—









Reserve and other funds






Net profit



The Western Maharashtra Weavers' Central Co-operative Mandal Ltd., Sholapur, was registered in 1961 with the object of supplying raw material to its members and assisting in the sale of their final products. During 1968-69, the Mandal purchased final products worth Rs. 3,55,649, while value realised from their sales amounted to Rs. 3,65,652 during the same period.

The following statement shows the financial position of the Mandal during the years 1967-68 and 1968-69:—

(i) Number of members








(ii) Share-capital—

(a) of the Mandal



(b) of Government



(iii) Reserve and other funds



(iv) Net profit



Raw materials: The organisation for the supply of raw materials in the district comprises three modes of dealings. Firstly, raw materials are purchased directly by a weaving karkhandar either on payment of cash or on credit. Secondly, raw materials upto a certain amount are advanced to small karkhandars by either big karkhandars or stockist-merchants under a price or wage contract. Lastly, raw materials are supplied by some producers' co-operative societies.

Yarn and dyeing materials are the main raw materials. The increasing dependence of the small karkhandars on yarn dealers constitutes a major weakness on their part. The artisan often gets yarn of counts actually inferior to what is claimed to be by the seller. Similarly, the weaver is also deceived in the case of dyed yarn and gets supplies of yarn dyed with loose colours with the effect that the colouring fades quickly and leaves a bad reputation for the hand-loom weavers' products.

Tools and equipment: Pit fly-shuttle looms are commonly used as tools and equipment. The looms and accessories are available from Sholapur and repairing work is done in villages. An automatic loom costs about Rs. 300 which is much more than the cost of a fly-shuttle loom. Old type looms are mostly in use in the villages. A small proportion of looms make use of iron reels which give better quality of cloth.

Production: Nearly 19 types of sarees are produced in Sholapur. The weavers in the villages prepare sarees etc. and sell them in the weekly bazars of the neighbouring villages. Sometime they also sell to local dealers. The weavers at Sholapur work for asamis (master weavers) who sell them to capitalist dealers who come from the weavers' community. The merchants then sell them to the outside merchants through the commission agents at Sholapur city only. The sales are on credit basis and about 6 per cent commission is charged by the commission agents. If the merchant wishes to sell on cash basis the commission agent will pay cash but charge a commission of 7 per cent to 9 per cent. The workers are paid daily wages ranging from Rs. 3 to Rs. 5.

Financial assistance: Inspite of financial and other assistance provided to the hand-loom industry, the present state of the industry is distressing. This condition of the industry cannot entirely be attributed to the unequal competition between the hand-loom and the power-loom industries. At least a part of the responsibility for such a state of affairs has to be attributed to the productive and the distributive organisation of the hand-loom weaving industry as it stands today. One oi the great defects of hand-loom products is the total want of standardisation of either the quality or prices.

The hand-loom weavers, even at present, are adopting the traditional method of weaving and the traditional designs and patterns as a result of which large stock remains unsold. In order to raise the sales by increasing demand for goods produced, it would be necessary for weavers to produce only such goods which are in fashion. It is, therefore, proposed to establish one Design Centre at Sholapur, for which provision of Rs. 4.10 lakhs has been proposed in the Fifth Five-Year Plan. A provision of another Rs. 5.00 lakhs has been made during the Fifth Five-Year Plan for financial assistance to hand-loom societies for block printing on hand-loom and power-loom cloth, and Rs. 5.00 lakhs for cloth mercerising plant.

As the hand-loom industry suffers from standardisation of quality, it should produce the superior quality of hand-loom cloth, which can compete with other textiles. The superior quality of cloth depends upon the quality of tools and equipment used. During the Fifth Five-Year Plan, it is proposed to supply improved tools and equipment, to 15 weavers' societies and a provision of Rs. 25,000 has been made in the District Plan for giving financial assistance to the hand-loom societies for this purpose. During 1974-1979, it is also proposed to provide financial assistance to co-operative societies for establishment of doubling factory for which a provision of Rs. 2.50 lakhs has been made.

It would be advantageous if the device of Jacquard is adopted for getting intricate designs. The cotton chaddars (known as Jacquard chaddars) manufactured in the hand-loom industry are known for their design and durability. These chaddars are popularly known as Sholapur chaddars, and have a demand all over the country. The main centres of manufacture of these chaddars are: (i) Tikekar Textile Mills, (ii) Chippa Weaving Mills, (iii) Marda Weaving Mills, (iv) Gangji Weaving Mills, (v) Kshirsagar Weaving Mills and (vi) Rapeli Weaving Mills.

There is a weavers' training school at Wagdari in Akkalkot taluka which is managed by the Zilla Parishad. It imparts training mainly to the children of hereditary artisans. It conducts a one-year course and gives a certificate to the successful students.

Tanning industry: This is one of the well-known cottage industries in the district. In almost all large villages, hides are tanned generally by Dhors, Mahars and Mangs. As per the Census Report of 1941, 504 workers were engaged in the tanning industry in the district. However, after the merger of the Akkalkot, Maindargi, Mangalwedha and Modnimb States in Sholapur district, the number engaged was reported to be more than 1,500. The 1961 Census reported the number of workers in tanning industry (household basis) as 325. Of these, a large proportion, viz., 262 (including 34 women) were working in rural area of the district. The main centres of the industry are Sholapur, Malshiras, Akluj, Nagaj, Barshi, Mohol, Akkalkot, Upalai and Javla. Tanning units in the areas excluding those under co-operative fold are managed by the heads of the families.

The process of tanning adopted by artisans in the district is very crude and traditional. It hardly enables their products to compete with the leather tanned at the tanning factories which is of a softer variety and more durable. Raw hides are steeped in water for two or three days, washed, and the hair scrapped off with knives. Lime is applied to the hide and after washing, it is steeped for twenty days in the solution of tarvad (Cassia auriculata) bark. It is again washed and laid in clean water for a fortnight and then dried in the shade. The hair is then scrapped off and the skin carefully cleaned. It is covered for one day with Indian millet dough and then dyed by being soaked in a solution of the gum of pipal (Ficus religiosa) together with a small quantity of carbonate of soda and the bark of the Rodh (Symplocos racemosa)

The raw materials required are hides and tanning material. Generally the hides of cows, buffaloes and bullocks and skins of sheep and goat are available in rural areas. Middlemen from Sholapur city and other towns export raw hides to tanneries at Bombay probably for getting higher prices. The other raw materials required by the industry are hirda, babul and tarwad bark and lime. Hirda is imported from Belgaum, Junnar and Nasik whereas babul and tarwad bark and lime are available locally.

The old tools and equipment are still in usage without least improvement. Each artisan family has got its separate set of tools and equipment consisting of big earthen pots, kachcha built pits, and many other tools like ari, rapi, scudding knives, wooden beams and frames. The set of equipment costs about Rs. 250.

Tanners undertake tanning of raw hides while some of them prepare mots also. On an average, one family of tanners can tan about twenty pieces of buffalo-hides per month. The selling price of the tanned material includes cost of raw material and labour charges.

The labourers are paid on piece-rate basis which comes to about Rs. 3 per day.

Most of the tanned hides are purchased by local Chambhars. In some cases, they are exported to Bombay individually as well as through co-operative societies.

The principle of division of labour is followed and as such the members of the family are engaged in different processes of tanning. The rural artisans are reported to have been under debt of local money-lenders and dalals and their economic condition is found to be very poor. Many of the artisans supplement their earnings by working as labourers in agriculture as their incomes are not sufficient to meet their expenditure.

The working capital required by the artisan is mainly for purchase of raw hides. An artisan generally requires about Rs. 600 as his working capital. In many cases tanners are required to sell their goods on credit and in some cases, advances are received on pledge of goods from the dealers.

Co-operative societies of tanners were organised in the district under the Maharashtra Khadi and Village Industries Board scheme to overcome the obstacles suffered by the tanners by extending assistance to them.

In 1969, there were five tanners' co-operative societies. However, lack of good management, financial help, technical guidance and many other difficulties have come in the way of the progress of these societies. The societies help the tanners in availing of financial help, raw materials and marketing of their produce.

Leather working: Leather working is one of the old cottage industries in the district. It is a hereditary occupation followed by Chambhars who purchase finished leather and prepare footwear like chappals and shoes. The 1941 Census Report enumerated 3,000 persons following this occupation while the 1961 Census reported the figure at 3,245. In 1961, of the total of 3,245 persons engaged m this industry 2,712 worked in household industry and the remaining in non-household industry.

The main centres of tanning are Sholapur, Barshi, Sangola and Javale.

The raw materials required by the industry are tanned leather and chrome leather, thread, wax, nails, heels and rivets. Finished leather from local tanners is also used, while the best finished leather is obtained from Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Kanpur.

The tools of a leather worker consist of sewing machine, wooden pieces, pakad, ambur, iron rods, stitching ari and leather knives (rapi), the whole set costing about Rs. 700.

Generally one man prepares two pairs of chappals or one pair of shoes during about eight hours. All the leather goods produced in the district are sold in the local market. Most of the Chambhars carry their business independently, sell their goods to the merchants mostly on cash basis, while sometimes advances are also received from merchants.

In 1968-69, there were thirteen tanners and leather workers' societies with a total membership of 244. Of the thirteen societies, ten societies were defunct during 1968-69. Of the remaining three societies, one at Akkalkot was well-established and made remarkable progress. In 1968-69, the share-capital of these thirteen societies was Rs. 51,187, while the reserve and other funds amounted to Rs. 16,029. The societies received loans worth Rs. 70,486 and the value of production amounted to Rs. 1,00,134 in the same year. The value of sale of these products and the total management expenditure of these societies amounted to Rs. 1,14,675 and Rs. 10,713, respectively. The total loss suffered was worth Rs. 3,532 and the total gains were worth Rs. 3,345.  [Annual Report of Co-operative Societies, Sholapur District, 1968-69.]

Wool weaving: Wool weaving is carried on at Balawadi, Sangola, Javale, Mahud Bk., Natepute, Nagaj and Chikalthan on a large scale and in several other villages on a small scale. As per the 1961 Census, 699 persons were engaged in wool weaving (hand-loom), of whom 688 worked in household industries.

The raw material required is woollen yarn which is purchased by the weavers mostly for weaving. Spinning is done by women belonging to Chambhar, Dhangar and Sanagar castes. Weaving is undertaken by Sanagars and Dhangars. Tamarind seeds are used for sizing purposes.

The types of looms used in many cases are of old type. Fly-shuttle looms are common. A fly-shuttle loom costs about Rs. 50. A weaver can weave about 25 kambals of small size over a period of one month.

The small weaver sells his produce to the local merchants who sell them out especially in the Konkan area. The merchants sell them on credit and charge high prices a piece. The weavers carry on business independently in their own homes and a family as a unit undertakes weaving.

The weavers require finance for purchase of yarn on a cash basis. The yarn prepared by the spinners is sold in the weekly bazars. A weaver requires a minimum amount of about Rs. 400 for running his business.

Co-operative societies of wool weavers have been organised in all the important centres in the district, and loans and subsidies are sanctioned by Government to these societies. They undertake purchase of raw materials and also help in the process of carding. A wool spinners' society has also been recently organised which intends to work in co-ordination with the wool weavers' societies. In the year 1968-69, there were ten wool weavers' societies in the district with a total membership of 401. They had fifty looms under production. The total share-capital of all the societies was Rs. 19,220; reserve and other funds, Rs. 11,674; loans, Rs. 48,351 and the working capital, Rs. 82,868. The societies purchased raw materials worth Rs. 19,080 during the same period. The total wage bill of the societies amounted to Rs. 17,912 and the value of production and the value of sales amounted to Rs. 43,702 and Rs. 45,392, respectively. The societies suffered a total loss of Rs. 3,203 during the same year. Out of the ten wool weavers' societies only six are working while the rest of them are defunct.

Rope-making: It is a hereditary occupation followed by the people of the Mang community. Ropes of different types for the agricultural operations are prepared from kekat fibre. The industry is carried on at Sholapur, Barshi, Pandharpur, Karmala, Mahud, Mohol, Akluj, Akkalkot, Mangalwedha and Nazare. As per the 1961 Census, 4,296 persons were engaged in the manufacture of products like ropes, cordage from jute and similar fibres such as hemp, ghaypat, etc.

The raw material required by the industry is kekat fibre which is grown largely along the banks of irrigation canals in the Malshiras, Pandharpur, Sangola and Barshi talukas. In other talukas kekat is grown along the borders of private fields as well as in Government waste lands. The present practice is that the kekat is purchased in auction sales by merchants who in turn get the fibre processed by the Mangs on payment of wages and sell it to the rope-makers. Generally about one third of the fibre required for the district is imported from the neighbouring districts of Ahmadnagar and Satara.

New types of tools and equipment are not used by any of the rope-makers. The tools and equipment used comprise mover, cutter, phiraki, dagadi shila, lokhandi akade, wooden log with seven wheels, etc.

A family of rope-makers can generally prepare 300 ropes per month. The wasted fibre is not turned into any other article for sale. The ropes are generally sold in market places on bazar days.

Generally, the persons engaged in the business carry on their business independently. The agriculturists allow the rope-makers to obtain the kekat grown in their fields on condition that they should supply ropes for them in return for some wages. The workers in the industry obtain temporary loans against the finished goods at high rates of interest but it was observed that the money obtained is not properly utilised by the rope-makers.

The rope-makers borrow loans from money-lenders who charge high rates of interest. Sometimes merchants advance money on fibre on the condition that ropes prepared by the workers should be sold to them only. During 1966-67, there were 34 rope-makers' societies in the district with a total membership of 1,026. During 1968-69, the number of societies decreased to 29, which had a total membership of 976. The share-capital, the reserve and other funds and the loans obtained by these societies during 1968-69 amounted to Rs. 25,399, Rs. 11,624 and Rs. 36,452, respectively. The societies sold the products worth Rs. 48,220 during the same period and gained profit amounting to Rs. 537. However, the loss suffered by the societies was quite large and amounted to Rs. 11,341. [ Annual Report of Co-operative Societies, Sholapur District, 1968-69.]

As the rope industry is entirely dependent upon the availability of raw material, viz., kekat which is produced mainly under canal irrigation facilities, the societies could not stock the raw material required tor the whole year. Due to shortage of raw material the working of the societies is restricted to four to six months during a year.

Oil-pressing: Oil-ghanis are concentrated mainly at Sholapur, Pandharpur, Barshi, Karmala, Akluj, Mohol and Vairag. However, they are found in every town and big village. Besides ghanis, oil extraction is done on a considerable scale in oil-mills in the district. In 1941, there were 782 persons engaged in oil-presses in the district. As per the 1961 Census, there were 1,504 persons engaged in oil crushing and pressing in the district.

Oil is extracted from edible oil-seeds like ground-nut, sesamum and safflower as well as from non-edible oil-seeds like karanji and castor seed. However, extraction of oil from ground-nut and safflower is done on a larger scale. Besides the local produce in the district, oil-seeds are imported from Bijapur and Gadag.

The equipment for oil-pressing consists of the traditional oil-ghanis run by bullocks. A few dagadi (stone) ghanis are still in use though generally kolu ghanis worked by one bullock are more prevalent.

A single ghani produces about fifteen seers of oil and 24 seers of oil-cake per day. Very often the oil-man takes the help of family-members for operations like cleaning and threshing the oil-seeds and marketing the oil. Some oil-men hire outside labour also. The average daily net earnings of an oil-man amount to Rs. 5. whereas a person employed by him is paid Rs. 1.50 per day. Oil-cake is the main bye-product which is an excellent cattle-feed. The poor use the oil-cake of sesamum and coconut in the preparation of vegetables. Oil-men in cities and towns have their own selling shops. In villages they prepare oil for agriculturists who supply oil-seeds and receive oil-cake as wages.

During monsoon the work is very slack, and hence, some of the artisans have to take to field labour. Due to competition from mill-made oil the business is not very profitable for the oil-men.

For running the industry the artisan needs a large capital to keep the stock of oil-seeds which he has to purchase during harvest-time. Provision of raw materials for three months generally requires about Rs. 3,000 for one ghani. In the absence of capital the oil-man purchases the oil-seeds from the merchants and sells back the oil to them with the result that the oil-man gets only the wages in return. Besides the lack of adequate capital for stocking oil-seeds, the artisans are handicapped by the traditional and out-moded equipment, and difficulties of marketing of oil in the face of competition from oil-mills.

During 1968-69, there were 23 oil-pressers' co-operatives with a membership of 779 in the district. Inspite of financial and other kind of help from Government and the Khadi and Village Industries Board, as many as eight co-operative societies were closed in the subsequent year.

Of the 1,500 oil-ghanis in the district, information is available for only 225 ghanis. During 1968-69, the 225 ghanis produced 15,353 quintals of oil worth Rs. 55,83,400 and 9,018 quintals of oilcake worth Rs. 13,61,135. The Khadi and Village Industries Board has invested Rs. 1,48,721 in the oil-pressing industry in the district. There is a District Central Co-operative Union of the oil-pressers in the district to which seventeen oil-pressers are affiliated. This union lenders financial and marketing assistance to the member-societies and individual members.

Bamboo working: The industry is found in each of the taluka places and big villages. It is the hereditary occupation of the Buruds and Mangs. Among the artisans, the proportion of female workers is higher than that of males, presumably because the male workers fkid a better remunerative employment in mills at Sholapur and Barshi.

Some well-to-do among the Buruds arrange to bring bamboos from Anavar and Dandeli as well as from the merchants at Hubli, and sell them to the workers.

Chisels, cutters, sickles and knives are used as tools by the artisans and the articles produced are baskets, winnowing fans and other things required for domestic purposes. Bamboo strips are taken out with a koyta and baskets are made with the help of a knife. The main product of the industry, however, consists of baskets of various sizes. Generally a woman-worker can make six baskets in a day. The prepared baskets are disposed of directly by the artisans mostly locally. Only some of the articles produced are taken to the nearest bazars for sale.

The business is carried on throughout the year to meet the local demand. The artisans in the district are not found to make furniture or articles of deceration.

The producers purchase the bamboos from the local merchants. Sometimes the bamboos are purchased on credit for which some extra charges are required to be paid.

So far no co-operative society has been organised in the district for bamboo workers.

Carpentry: Carpenters are found all over the district. The village carpenters known as Sutars prepare and repair agricultural implements. The Karmala carpenters manufacture excellent carts which are used throughout the district. In addition to this, a good number of carpenters are engaged in the manufacture of furniture and building construction works at Sholapur, Barshi and Pandharpur. Carpenter was an important member of the baluta system which formed an integral part of the rural economy for centuries. The baluta system under which the artisans were paid in kind has now almost disappeared and the artisans are paid in cash.

As per the 1941 Census Report, there were 2,623 persons engaged in carpentry in the district. The 1961 Census enumerated the number of persons engaged in wood and wooden products undertaken on household scale as 5,040, of which 1,055 were females.

The raw material required is timber which is obtained from Alanwar and Dandeli in Dharwar district, Ballarshah in Chandrapur district as well as from Nasik. Teak-wood is mostly used, the other varieties being used to a small extent. Teak-wood from Alanwar and Dandeli is superior and hence costlier. Nails, screws and polishing material are available in the local market.

Generally the carpenters have their own tools and equipment which cost them about Rs. 100. The tool-box of a carpenter contains chisels, hammer, hand-drill machine, pakkad, screw-driver, etc. Bigger tools are owned only by the big manufacturers.

Though a majority of the artisans work single-handed at the residence under the roof of a master carpenter, a few in Sholapur city are found to work for an employer who is a wholesale manufacturer.

Nearly all carpenters in cities are wage-earners and are always in small debts. As the village carpenters do not find full-time occupation, they generally migrate to cities.

In 1969, there were four co-operatives of carpenters and blacksmiths with a total membership of 93 and share-capital worth Rs. 4,855. The co-operatives were in debts to the tune of Rs. 18,700. Their total gains amounted to Rs. 3,559, while the losses amounted to Rs. 640. [Annual Report of Co-operative Societies, Sholapur District, 1968-69.]

Blacksmithy: Blacksmiths are scattered throughout the villages in the district where they carry on the work of repairs of agricultural implements. There are also a few itinerary blacksmiths in the district. Blacksmithy was formerly a hereditary occupation, but now-a-days persons who have obtained the necessary skill have entered this occupation. The products are buckets and iron pots for storing water, frying pans (tavas), chalnis, etc. As per the Census of 1941, there were 1,055 persons engaged in blacksmithy. The 1961 Census [Census of India, 1961, Volume X, Maharashtra, Occupational Classification.] enumerates the number as 1,965 including blacksmiths, hammersmiths and forgemen. Of these, 342 carried on business in urban areas and the remaining in rural areas of the district.

The raw materials required by a blacksmith are plain or galvanised iron sheets, wire mesh, round bars, and flats. A worker generally uses about 6 cwt. (hundredweights) of sheets costing about Rs. 300 per month.

In villages, the Lohars possess their own tools and equipment but in cities these are supplied to them by their employers. Most of the Lohars use old types of tools such as hammers, blowers and cutters, the whole set costing about Rs. 50.

The merchants arrange for the sale of these articles and send them to outside districts. The workers work on job work basis. They, however, do not get sufficient work during the rainy season.

A school for imparting training in improved methods of carpentry and smithy has been established at Sholapur.

Pottery industry: The pottery industry, like other cottage industries, is scattered throughout the district. The old District Gazetteer of Sholapur recorded 3,852 potters in the district The number of persons engaged in the industry as per the Census Report of 1941 was 1,718. The 1961 Census figures show a decrease in the number to 1,634 which includes potters and related clay farmers in the district. Of these, 395 persons were in the urban areas. It is found that the clay available in the district is not suitable for preparing pots of good quality. Hence, such pots are imported from Bijapur district.

Potters are mainly concentrated in areas near the river-bank mainly because of the availability of clay and water-supply. Their tools and equipment comprise a wooden wheel (known as a potter's wheel), kiln, furnace built with bricks and wooden tools of the old type for baking earthen pots, wooden moulds of various shapes and sizes, pick-axes, ghamelas, a bat-shaped piece of wood called phala and a round stone.

Though their appliances are simple, they turn out good wares comprising small and large vessels and jars, pots and pans, children's toys, smoking pipes or chilims. Some are found to make bricks and tiles also.

The goods produced locally are sold mostly in the neighbouring markets and partly they are sent to Sholapur, Barshi and Pandharpur.

The potters at Sholapur find it difficult to secure clay required by them. Attempts are being made to organise them into co-operative societies. In 1959, there were five co-operative societies of brick-makers and potters in the district. The total membership of the societies was 94, and the share-capital amounted to Rs. 12,884. The societies were in debts to the tune of Rs. 17,057. The production of earthenware in the co-operative sector was valued at Rs. 11,203, while the proceeds from sales amounted to Rs. 11,881.

Metal working: Articles from brass and copper sheets are prepared by workers employed on wage basis by the merchants who deal in such articles. Sholapur, Barshi, Pandharpur and Karmala are the prominent places where this cottage industry is centred. About 300 people were engaged in metal working in 1941. As per the 1961 Census, 2,132 persons were engaged in "basic metals and their products except machinery and transport equipment" who carried on the occupation on household scale. Of them, only 596 persons carried metal working (on household scale) in urban areas of the district.

Copper and brass sheets, charcoal and chemicals are the raw materials required by the artisans. The copper and brass sheets are purchased in Bombay. Sheets of 4 by 4 and circular disks of 14" are generally available.

The workers who prepare the articles possess their own tools and equipment such as iron rods, blower, etc., a whole set costing about Rs. 200. The prepared articles are handed over to the merchants who arrange for their sale. Usually, the merchants give the copper or brass sheets to the workers who receive wages for their work. The workers manufacture cooking and drinking pots, mugs, lamp-stands and other such articles of daily use.

The artisans work in their own places with the help of some assistance from their own family-members. Their women help in blowing the bellows.

In 1969, there were six co-operatives of metal workers in the district with a total membership of 144. The societies incurred a total loss of Rs. 31,756 during the same year.

Bidi making: Bidi making is one of the most important cottage industries in the district. It provides a subsidiary source of income to a considerable number of persons. As per the 1941 Census Report, there were 11,000 workers employed in this industry, of whom about 9,000 were engaged in Sholapur town only. As per 1961 Census, the number of persons engaged in bidi-making was 7,465. Of these, 2,145 carried bidi-making on a household scale. The Census figures further show that bidi-makmg is mostly followed in urban areas rather than in rural areas of the district. Besides Sholapur, the other centres of production are Barshi, Pandharpur, Madha, etc.

Tobacco and leaves are the main raw materials required by the industry. Different qualities of tobacco are obtained from Nipani, Sangli, Kolhapur and Gujarat. Tobacco leaves are purchased from Chandrapur and Bhandara districts as also from Madhya Pradesh. The tools and equipment required for bidi-making consist of a furnace, metal trays and pairs of scissors.

The owners of factories manufacturing bidis having patents get better prices. Bidis are mostly sent to various places in the States of Gujarat, Mysore, Andhra Pradesh as also to many of the districts of the State of Maharashtra. In some cases, bidi-making is undertaken by all the working members of family at the place of residence. The industry is generally brisk after the harvest, and continues to be so till the onset of monsoon.

This industry gives full-time employment to women and children. The factory-owners have their godowns and warehouses for keeping the tobacco and the bidis prepared as well as sheds for the workers. The leaves are given to the workers who cut them into required sizes for preparing bidis. Wages are paid on a weekly basis, the amount depending upon the individual turn-over. The rate of payment comes to about Rs. 1.50 per one thousand bidis.

A small concern engaging thirty workers requires about Rs. 5,000 by way of capital investment.

There is only one bidi-makers, co-operative society in the district which received Rs. 3,000 by way of financial assistance from the Government.

Kunkum making: The industry is carried on at Pandharpur and Kem and is mainly in the hands of a few persons who engage workers for making kunkum powder. The grinding of turmeric (halad) is done by women and cleaning and other operations are done by males. The industry is concentrated at Pandharpur probably because of the religious importance of this place of pilgrimage.

Halad (turmeric), sulphuric acid, alum and borax are the main raw materials required. Chalk is mixed with halad which is obtained from Sangli. The mixture is in proportion of 3: 1.

The equipment required for this industry consists of grinding wheels and water tanks. Grinding wheels are operated with the help of bullocks.

The men-workers are paid higher wages than women-workers, the former being paid from Re. 1 to Rs. 1.50 while the latter about Re. 1 per day. The wages are paid weekly. During the harvesting season the industry remains practically closed because the workers take to agricultural operations.

A small establishment requires about Rs. 250 for a grinding machine driven by bullocks, Rs. 400 for a pair of bullocks, Rs. 200 for other tools and about Rs. 2,000 for working capital, the total investment coming to about Rs. 3,000.

Fisheries: Fishing activities in the district are restricted to inland water sources such as rivers, tanks and ponds. The total length of the perennial rivers in the district is about 740 kilometres. Besides this, there are also twenty tanks and ponds which provide about 20,000 acres of water-spread area, which is not quite adequate for. large-scale development of pisciculture.

The commercially important varieties of fish found in the district are: Kirkit or Shinghala, Murrel, Shivda (Pahadi or Daku), Chamar or Chalat, Pal or Dandaonya, Khavlya, Khaval, Kolshi, Zinga, Boi, Kalundar, Kharadi and Muri. These varieties are, however, not of a fast-growing type. Under the Five-Year Plan schemes, quick-growing " Bengal Carps " are stocked annually in the perennial water tanks for propagation of pisciculture. The varieties stocked are " Catta Catla ", Rohu and Mrigal. During the Second Five-Year Plan period about 4.72 lakhs of carp fry was stocked, while during the first two years of the Third Plan, the quantity stocked amounted to 4.22 lakhs.

As per the 1881 Census, 456 persons were engaged in fishing and hunting as principal workers. The 1911 Census gives the number of workers engaged in this occupation as 407. Of these, 191 were engaged in fishing. The employment in this occupation declined to 201 in 1961. Some of the fishermen resort to seasonal agriculture as a subsidiary means of livelihood due to the very limited scope for fishing industry in the district. Fishermen in the district belong to the Bhoi community.

On June 1969, there were five registered co-operative societies of fishermen with a total membership of 202. The total share-capital of these societies amounted to Rs. 19,925 and the Government share-capital contribution to Rs. 13,000. The total working capital of these societies was Rs. 21,177. The total sale of fish by these societies was valued at Rs. 55,424. These co-operative societies of fishermen have helped to improve the financial position of the poor fishermen. The co-operative societies are given financial assistance in the form of loans and subsidy by the Government. They are also helped to secure tanks and ponds for developing pisciculture.