Textiles are a key part of modern life, and in many countries, they are being increasingly used in fashion.
However, the textile industry is experiencing a serious crisis.
A global survey of textile workers released in February 2016 found that more than a third of workers in India have experienced serious health and safety concerns, including death, in the textile sector.
While there is no definitive cause for the epidemic, researchers are calling for urgent action to prevent it from spreading and stop the textile crisis from worsening.
Read more: The survey found that almost half of textile labourers, 45 per cent, were working in non-traditional or non-sustainable areas, such as wood, paper, or synthetic fibres.
Many of these workers are not properly paid, are unable to access adequate health care, and suffer from physical and mental disabilities.
Many have even resorted to self-harm to alleviate their stress.
“The textile crisis is a global one and India is no exception,” said Dr Gopal Sengupta, an associate professor of health sciences at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the report.
“In the United States, for example, textile mills employ an estimated 50 million people and employ over half a million people, according to a study conducted by the University College London.
In India, there are more than 1.4 million textile workers and over a billion tonnes of cotton are woven every year.
The textile crisis cannot be solved through ‘soft’ solutions such as more education, better training and greater transparency in the industry,” Sengupton said.
“Our survey shows that the textile problem in India is far from being resolved and the industry is suffering from a major public health crisis.”
A national textile crisis: India textile workers ‘need help’ India’s textile crisis has been on the national agenda for the past decade, and there are signs that things have finally begun to move.
In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the end of the ‘labor’ period, which had been in place since the late 1990s.
The closure of textile factories has seen factories that were once home to more than 100,000 workers begin to shut down, as manufacturers have realised that their production capacity has fallen due to the shortage of skilled labour.
This has been followed by a shift to ‘agro-process’ textile production, in which machines and equipment are used to manufacture garments instead of the traditional cotton-woven fabrics that the industry has used for centuries.
“With the end, a lot of pressure has been placed on the industry to make some structural changes,” said M. Suresh Rao, the head of the India Textile Industry Council.
“We have seen a shift in the way factories are run and there has been a shift towards more sustainable methods of production,” Rao said.
The new shift is being led by India’s state-run textile production companies, which are taking a hard line on the issue.
The government has made a commitment to introduce a national strategy to tackle the textile issue, which has so far resulted in some changes.
But there has yet to be any concrete results, as factories have not yet been able to meet their targets.
“There are still a lot to be done, particularly for the production of textiles that have traditionally been made in a traditional way,” said Rao.
“For example, the new factory in Haryana that was recently completed will produce garments for the clothing industry, but there is a problem in terms of the number of workers that are working there.”
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“They have to increase the number and the quality of workers, and that is the biggest challenge,” he added.
“But we have to work towards that and we have made some progress, and we are in the process of making a statement that we are committed to this.”
In 2017, the government introduced a new textile policy to tackle what it called the ‘dysfunctional’ textile sector, which includes non-wool production, non-standard processing, and non-synthetic textiles.
The policy includes a three-pronged approach, which is aimed at creating an ‘environment for sustainable textile production’ and ‘the capacity of all textile production workers’.
The government also has plans to address the health and welfare issues faced by textile workers.
“Some of the challenges that we face in the garment industry are related to health, especially those related to mental and physical conditions,” said Anirban Bhattacharya, co-founder of the Institute for Global Labour Studies (IGLS).
“We are seeing the need for a national policy to address this,” he said.
For instance, the Indian government has recently launched a National Health Policy for Textiles, which aims to tackle many of the problems faced by workers in the sector.
But the new textile strategy does not address all the issues that the government is