Recession robs the sheen off from diamond industry in Surat

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Surat, Oct 21 : The diamond industry of Surat in Gujarat is fighting hard to survive the current recessionary trends.

Diamond exporters are feeling the heat of the US meltdown. With the demand gone down not only in the international market, but in the domestic market as well, more orders are being cancelled every day.

The Surat diamond industry is worth Rs 800,000 million and constitutes more than half of the total diamond exports from India. It employs more than 700,000 workers from across the country. Over 2,500,000 people are associated with the trade, indirectly.

The glitter is missing from the industry. The traders estimate that they have lost around 20-30 per cent of their business.

"Surat is one of the biggest polishing industries of the world. The business is being carried out here ever since 1960. Around Rs 800, 000 million worth material is exported from here but since quite some time, the recessionary trends are creating problems for us. The economy of United States is not doing well and it affects us badly since more than 60 per cent of our exports used to go to the United States. Today, it has been reduced to 30 per cent," said Praveen Nanavati, a diamond trader.

The US is one of the largest markets for diamonds and other gemstones. Also, exporters said that the diamonds processed in Surat are sent to other parts of the world including the Middle East from where manufactured jewellery is then sold across the globe.

Nanavati further added that livelihood of more than 700.000 people directly employed in the diamond trade in this town alone is at stake.

These diamond craftsmen in Surat are uncertain about their jobs.

He also clarified that though usually these workers get one month paid leave in the month of November every year ahead of Diwali, the vacation might extend owing to lack of work.

The employees might return back to work only by January.

"We were expecting that during Diwali, the domestic demand might increase. But it might not be so as the gold prices have shot up. The rate of a diamond to dollar has also gone up from 40 to 49 making the purchase of raw materials an expensive affair," said Nanavati.

Even as India's festive season is round the corner the demand seems to be fast drying up, adding to the woes.

India's diamond industry has been reeling under a spate of problems. Around 2000 factories out of 10000 have already shut down.

The worst-hit diamond cutters and polishers have not yet lost hopes on the market making a come back to add the lost sheen, luster, glitter and sparkle to their lives.

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