The jewellery industry in Gujarat is reeling from losses of more than R12,000 crore as the indefinite strike by jewellers entered its 38th day on Friday.
“Thirty percent of our business for the entire year is conducted in this period. Farmers from rural areas of the state have just received their income from the harvest, and they want to shop for jewellery for weddings in the family during these months. Most of the trade in the state is concentrated in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot. Shops are shut at all these places. Gujarat has more than 30,000 retailers and over two lakh workshops. With business shut, B2C trade alone is making losses of over R400 crore daily,” said Manoj Soni, an Ahmedabad-based jewellery retailer.
Ahmedabad Jewellers Association’s Jigar Soni estimated that jewellers in the state have made losses amounting to more than R10,000 crore in one month alone.
Craftsmen and workers of the jewellery industry, who hail from different parts of India, are being taken care of in Ahmedabad. “Individual donors from within the association are making sure our craftsmen are being taken care of. We do not even take money from people who do not belong to our association”, Soni asserted.
It is a different scene in Surat, however. “Craftsmen who had come here from West Bengal are returning home as the strike continues. Nearly 80% of the workers have already left”, said Pravin Nanavati of Gujarat Hira Bourse.
All stakeholders in the jewellery industry have been affected by the strike. “The government is also losing revenue worth crores of rupees due to the strike. The income tax department and the VAT department are making losses. Workers and businessmen alike are losing money. Even though we are on strike, we still have to pay our staff their salary as well as pay off our bank loans”, added Soni.
According to Dinesh Navadia, president of the Surat Diamond Association, trade within the diamond industry continues. “The total diamond industry is worth more than R2 lakh crore. However, only about 8% of that includes value addition in jewellery, for consumption within the country. Trade is continuing for those working on diamonds in factories and elsewhere, because exports are the major portion of their business, and those commitments must be met.”
When asked if penalty is being imposed on jewellers who have opened their stores despite the strike, Soni said, “There are 85 jewellers’ associations operating in different areas in Ahmedabad. The penalty has been imposed in about six areas, on people who have broken the rules or have not committed to the strike.”
Soni was quick to add, “Many people have opened their stores because they were not aware of the strike, or to check on their stock. These people have not been asked to pay the penalty, since it is perfectly natural for businessmen to check on their shops even when trade is shut.”