In case the talks and efforts of the jewellery associations/organisations fail to bring in relief over ongoing strike, it is a dead-end mainly for almost 2.75 crore jewellery artisans spread across the country. These are at the bottom of the entire jewellery chain and have no other source of income/skill other than jewellery making. The country has already reported 8 cases of suicides due to the ongoing strike.
Recently, the FM Arun Jaitley, one more time made it clear to the jewellers on strike that the excise duty won’t be rolled back. He said “How can a luxury item remain out of tax when essential items like cement, cloth and many others have to pay manufacturing tax. If we do not bring GST on gold, taxation on other items will have to be increased.” Jaitley said the Centre has given a benefit that excise would be similar to VAT on gold and has tried to allay fears that ‘karigars’ would be affected from the new taxation.
While jewellers are firm on their opinion that the excise duty would lead to ‘inspector raj’ and harassment, government has promised that there would not be any harassment. Also, jewellers have maintained that small time jewellers would not be comfortable maintaining records. However, excise officials say that the jewellers are already following VAT compliance so keeping records would not be a trouble for them. Giving this reason for protest is invalid.
As per reports, some section of the jewellers from Uttar Pradesh, Hyderabad and Kolkata has already resumed their businesses while jewellers from Kerala and Tamil Nadu have already pulled out of the strike. Corporates never closed anyway.
Meanwhile, jewellery associations had reportedly met the representatives of the central government and are expected to submit their recommendations to the government. Does this mean that the jewellery associations are ready for negotiations? If so, then why not call off the strike and discuss? In case, the strike is called off, will it be possible for the jewellers to get their artisans back? Industry think-tank has already predicted that it would take more than a year for the jewellers to recover their losses.