Goldsmiths reeling under recession

 SPECTRE OF UNEMPLOYMENT: The exponential increase in the price of gold has rendered goldsmiths jobless. A goldsmith shop in Kolar Gold Fields. DH Photo
Even as the price of gold is skyrocketing in the international market, the goldsmiths in this land of goldmines, are leading a pathetic life.

The goldmine in the town was operational for over 125 years and was closed nearly eight years ago. Thousands of mine workers lost their jobs and their living condition is no better than that of goldsmiths.

Spurt in gold price
The price of the yellow metal, which was hovering around 500 per gram at the time of closure of the mines, was ruling at Rs 1,600 per gram during March 2009. The exponential spurt in the price has rendered the precious metal out of reach of the common man. There has been a considerable decline in the number of people purchasing gold for marriage and other auspicious occasions. Concomitantly, the business of goldsmiths has also gone down.

Goldsmiths did a roaring business in Kolar Gold Fields while the mines was operational. More than 5,000 people are eking out livelihood from this occupation. However, the phenomenal increase in the price of yellow metal and the consequent decline in their business volume have made their life miserable.

The drastic decline in business has affected the goldsmiths  badly. While some reeling under financial burden have committed suicide, some are struggling to meet the ends by coolie work. Financial constraints has compelled the children of goldsmith to forsake their education and take up sundry jobs.

Lakhs of goldsmiths across the country deserve a package for their welfare. Financial assistance for self-employment, alternative employment avenues for the goldsmiths are the need of the hour. “The government should come to our rescue through Goldsmiths’ Cooperative Welfare Societies. A scheme should be formulated for the uplift of the skilled workers such as goldsmiths,” opines K M Rajachari, a member of one of such Welfare Society.

The increasing role being played by machines in manufacturing jewellery has also dealt a serious blow to the goldsmiths' profession. Machine-made ornaments are taking precedence over the man-made ones and the fad is depriving the source of income for goldsmiths.

The government should swing into action to ensure an alternative source of livelihood of goldsmiths before the problem snowballs into a crisis.

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