The strike by Indian jewellers against the planned imposition of a one percent excise duty has now stretched to 32 days, and has now had an appreciable impact on the diamond industry as well. While there are no official figures, sources in the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) told GEMKonnect that with the domestic jewellery industry on strike all this while, by a conservative estimate, at least 500,000 carats of diamonds, which would in the normal course have been sold to the small and medium jewellers alone, have remained unsold.
There are no signs of resolution yet, with the government remaining adamant on the imposition of the tax and jewellers determined to continue their strike until it is rolled back.
Many daily-wage artisans involved in goldsmithing and jewellery fabrication have been forced to return to their villages to seek family support and look at sustaining themselves with agriculture-related work.
Meanwhile, jewellers have been racking up the pressure on the ruling BJP party to get the government to withdraw the proposed imposition. According to some media reports, at least 2,000 BJP party workers associated with the jewellery industry, from the town of Rajkot in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, resigned their party membership.
In Mumbai, the capital of the state of Maharashtra, which is ruled by a coalition led by the BJP, the Shiv Sena party, one of the ruling coalition partners, has come out in support of the jewellers. The move has made things awkward for the ruling party and has added to the political pressure being brought to bear on the central government to withdraw the proposed tax.
A meeting between jewellers and the central government has reportedly been organised on Monday, though there was no official confirmation of this.