Plagued by global slowdown, shrinking profit margins, and a general decline in orders, diamond merchants in Surat have been staring at a bleak world.
Not too long ago, Surat was called India’s diamond hub. It is steeped in history – the East Indian Company set up its first factory in Surat in the early 17th century. As Vibes of India reported earlier, there was a time when Surat’s diamond sector would employ about a million people across roughly 5,000 factories. Until 2022, it was a $2.43 billion global diamond market, it is poised to take a leap of $3.41 billion by 2027, according to The Business Research Company.
Now, diamond merchants have reached a breaking point as economic hardships have taken a toll.
The dire situation has resulted in a spate of suicides. The Times of India has reported that leaders of the Diamond Workers Union’s Gujarat leaders made a representation to senior Congress leader Amit Chavda, claiming that 20 artisans had ended their lives, unable to cope with the severe financial crisis.
The TOI report claimed that Chavda, the legislative party leader of Congress in the assembly, demanded a relief package for diamond artisans in Surat.
“Due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and other global reasons, the diamond industry is passing through tough times, and the working hours of artisans have been reduced. Holiday per week is two days, and Diwali vacation is to start early,” said Chavda.
“Following this, many workers are facing financial troubles, and some have even ended their lives. In such a situation, the Centre as well as the state government should come up with some relief package for artisans,” he added, saying civic bodies should not collect professional tax from diamond artisans.