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Silk Culture in India. Indian silk has been famous from times immemorial. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, India and more especially Bengal occupied an important place in silk production and trade. Thereafter, the industry declined considerably because of severe competition from imported silk yarn and silk goods from Japan and Italy, unsympathetic attitude of the rulers, lack of finance and proper planning.
Rich Qualities of Indian Silk. Still, silk saris of Murshidabad, Benares, Bangalore, and Kashmir have become the choice of the people throughout the world. Indian silk fabrics are well known for their hard wear, colour and motifs. Because of these qualities there has been a great demand for them from affluent countries of the West. Indian exports to these, countries include saris, scarves, blouse-pieces and stoles.
Markets for Indian Silk. The man-made fibres such as nylon, rayon, Terylene, Orlon, etc., which are exquisite in texture and design could not. oust the natural silk of India though they have been in the market for a decade or so. The demand for Indian silk in the international market has again been on the increase. Besides the traditional markets of Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Hong Kong where India's export of silk goods was mainly confined new markets have come on the horizon. Countries of south west Asia, south East Asia, Africa and Latin America would become the potential buyers of Indian silk goods. Indian silk textiles (mainly tusser) have become very popular with the people of the United States and Canada for winter suiting and ladies' housecoats, wraps and purses.
Exports to the U.S. have steadily been rising since 1951; when its share was 13 per cent of the total exports. It rose to 15 per cent in 1960 and then to 25 per cent in 1983-84. Readymade garments like bush shirts, ties, robes rugs and blankets are liked by the European people. Indian silk fabrics have made a mark in international trade. The Central Silk Board is responsible for increasing exports of Indian silk goods.
Production of all types of raw silk rose from 1.1 thousand metric tons in 1958 to 2.8 thousand metric tons in 1987-88. The production of cocoons (fresh) exceeds 20 thousand metric tons per year.
Trade in Raw Silk. The important markets for raw silk are U.S.A., France, India, West Germany. The U.S.A. takes more than 60% of the world's total exports. France and U.K. take 7% and 5% respectively.
Japan, China, Korea and Italy are the exporters of raw silk supplying 72%, 10%, 6% and 6% respectively.