The untold crisis to befall India’s artists, artisans and weavers

  • As many as 30 million Indian textile workers have already lost their jobs
  • More than 60,000 workers are jobless in the diamond polishing sector since 2018.
  • Rains have played havoc with sculptors whose stock was washed away in the rains.

Much has written and spoken the job losses in the textile and automobile sector. Millions of blue collar employees have lost their livelihood as plants shutdowns or production cuts.

But just as many if not more artists and artisans are caught in the economic spiral with less or no spotlight. And it is not merely slowdown, but weather and other social factors are adding to the plight of the millions of India’s unorganised workers.

These artists who are hurt the most are those who make ₹10,000 per month or less. And a few desperate of them have resorted to suicides, since few artists have prospects outside their chosen area.

Rains sweep away profits from sculptors

Ideally, this month Indian idol makers should be rolling in cash as Ganapati idol sales hit a high. But, they are now lamenting over losses and pain, as heavy in Maharashtra in Sangli and Kolhapur districts have swept away their raw material, and annual earnings.

Due to rains, the stock of idols made of plaster of paris has also deteriorated. Some have developed cracks while others rotting bases and others are bare damp leaving those who have worked all around the year, penniless.

Lenders’ fury hits diamond polishers

The story of artisans who shine diamonds is even worse. As US markets have lost sheen, the Indian industry is depressed. Multiple scams in the sector right from Nirav Modi to Mehul Choksi has also resulted in shutdowns. Moreso, the banking sector which is hurt by diamond merchants is also refusing a lifeline, deepening the crisis.

As many as 60,000 workers are jobless since 2018. According to Gujarat Diamond Workers Union, as many as ten artisans have already committed suicide. More are in trouble as a large number of units in this small and medium sized industries, are working on a single shift.

Spoke in the spinning wheel

As many as 30 million Indian weavers and powerloom workers have already lost their jobs, thanks to government policies and the effect of slowdown. This constitutes to a third of all textile workers in India.

Over 600 spinning wheels have shut down leaving 200,000 unemployed. Half of these shutdown took place in the textile hub of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, which paint a grim picture of the economy.

These job losses will affect many families as a large chunk of Indian textile workers are women. Their earnings support families, which now have nothing to fall back on.

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