Return of gold artisans to Bengal casts shadow over craft’s future

KOLKATA: Nearly 350,000 Bengali gold jewelry karigars or artisans are coming back from the jewelry hubs of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka to West Bengal, elevating concern over whether or not they are going to return to their workplaces when the commerce resumes after the restrictions triggered by Covid-19 are eased.
Bengali gold artisans are recognized the world over for his or her craftsmanship and the items they churn out are fashionable in West Asia, the United States and Europe.

In the jewelry parlance, these items are referred to as Kolkatti or Calcutta jewelry.

“The workers want to reunite with their families in this hour of crisis. So they are returning to their home towns in Bengal,” stated Surendra Mehta, nationwide secretary, India Bullion and Jewellers Association.

“If this pandemic continues for long, then they might not come back. They might get some other work in their own state. Also, it is not yet clear when normalcy will come back”

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had in March introduced free foodgrains and ration below the general public distribution system for the following six months. The state additionally requested the Centre to increase the quantity of man-days allotted to it this 12 months below MGNREGA.

These measures will give some reduction to the artisans and their households for a minimum of six months and subsequently they may not return to the jewelry manufacturing hubs, stated commerce executives. “We will face shortage of labour once our trade opens up,” stated Mehta.

Ashok Bengani, president of Calcutta Gem & Jewellers’ Welfare Association, stated the artisans are skilled over a interval of six-seven years.

“An artisan, when totally skilled, can earn Rs 18,000-20,000 monthly or extra. So it’s troublesome for them to neglect the ability. They will return to their workplaces after a sure interval of time. Now they’re all anxious to return dwelling. Gold jewellery exports from India will undergo if they don’t return to work.”

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