Clothing Industry unheard?

The clothing industry that dresses India is at halt and it has been so for more than a week. Surat, the textile capital or more popularly the Silk City of India has come to a standstill following the Goods and Service Tax being rolled out across the country and the different sectors. The traders in textile industry all over India including those in Surat have raised multiple issues regarding the new GST regime. They have opposed the taxes being levied at multiple stages and are demanding the simplification by imposing the GST on finished product rather than the yarn. They’ve also raised opposition to the multiple returns to be filled every month saying this will not only hamper the producer confidence but also increase the overall paperwork.

It is ridiculous that the traders have been trying to talk to the government at various levels since a long time. The delegation of traders was in Delhi for a quite a number of days but the government did not heed to their requests of meeting and hearing their grievances. All of this in turn agitated the small traders in Surat who accused the local politicians and leaders of textile industry federations to have softened their stand and submitted to the whims of higher authorities in Delhi. Following this, the traders confronted Tarachand Kasat, the President of All India Textile Traders’ Association and called for an indefinite strike from July 2. Kasat who had initially submitted to the political pressure, joined the traders in their decision. The textile markets in Surat since then have been shut. CR Patil, the local MP tried to convince the traders to end the strike, but in vain. Further, he promised police protection to the traders who wanted to open their shops and this angered the traders who blamed the authorities for disturbing the unity of traders. To make the matters worse came the police’s gruesome lathi charge on the peacefully gathered traders. The Police Commissioner later expressed regret over the incident. However, the traders in states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka and others have lent their support to the Surti traders.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Indian National Congress have been trying to fuel the agitation and gain political points from this issue-based movement. Interestingly, the cute crusader of masses Rahul Gandhi has not been spotted in the city. It is usually he who is seen hopping from one place to another to ‘sympathise’ with the aggrieved. Though, this is not unbecoming of him as there wasn’t much media coverage given to the issue which makes it irrelevant and unprofitable for him to be here. This brings me to the coverage given to the issue by national media which can be classified within none to negligible. The little coverage that the movement received was also only after the lathi charge. This shows how pan India driven the media is. The helm-man of newly launched Republic TV, Arnab Goswami who accused the other media houses to be Delhi driven and called them Lutyen’s media will also have to introspect. The undermining of matter by the media has raised important questions on its priorities and biases. It is noteworthy that textile industry is the second largest employment-providing sector in India after agriculture, Surat being the largest manufacturer of clothes in the nation.

If this does not require national attention, then what does?

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