Uttar Pradesh capital is considered the heartland of Zardozi work, which is facing tough competition from Chinese machine-made embroidery. The protesters said that the government’s decision to slap 5% GST on Zardozi products had worsened their situation.
Zardozi artisans and wholesalers on Monday gathered at the Clock Tower at Chowk and marched till the Rumi Gate, protesting against the newly-introduced goods and services tax (GST).
The state capital is considered the heartland of Zardozi work, which is facing tough competition from Chinese machine-made embroidery. The protesters said that the government’s decision to slap 5% GST on Zardozi products had worsened their situation.
“Around 3 lakh Zardozi workers in and around Chowk, Thakurganj, Kursi road, Kakori, Malihabad, Barabanki and Bangarmau will be adversely affected if the centre doesn’t roll back 5% GST on the craft,” said Pitambar Punjabi, president of Aari Zardozi Kamgar Samiti, and general secretary Divjyot Singh Chawla. They are wholesale suppliers of Zardozi work. The protest was organised under the aegis of the Samiti.
Chawla added, “The tax will increase the problems of artisans who are already struggling to make ends meet because of the invasion of machine embroidery and cheaper fabrics. We met home minister Rajnath Singh to request rollback of GST on Zardozi. He asked us to accept the tax, but assured that the process will be made simpler.”
Mohammed Nazim, an artisan present at the protest, said, “We barely earn Rs 150 a day. If the government places this tax burden on us, our income will be reduced further. Post-GST procedural complexities will also make daily business difficult.”
Zahoor Hasan, another artisan, agreed with Nazim. “Taxation will make some of us quit our jobs as Zardozi labourers. The wholesalers are threatening to subtract 5% money from our payments because of GST. This is not acceptable,” he said.
Zardozi / ‘Kalabatun’ mentioned in Vedic literature
Zardozi work has been mentioned in the Vedic literature, and the epics ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. The process has been referred to as ‘Kalabatun’.
It is described as use of silk threads wrapped in real gold and silver wires for decorating satin and velvet fabrics. Other embellishments, such as, sequins, beads, precious stones and pearls were also sewn on.
However, there’s also a belief that Zardozi embroidery came to India from Iran. The Persian word ‘Zar’ means Gold, while ‘dozi’ means embroidery. This heavy and intricate style of embroidery flourished in India during the Mughal rule.
In Lucknow, generations of artisans have worked on this craft.