US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Irani military chief Qasem Soleimani. Could this cause instability in the Middle East?”
“What will come out of US-China trade war, eventually?”
These are not from discussions with a strategic affairs expert at a think tank in New Delhi. These are from conversations we had with owners of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Moradabad, in western UP. The fortune of this handicraft capital of India, which produces 40% of the country’s annual handicraft exports, generating Rs.60 billion in revenue, fluctuates with global events. “When the US forced India to downgrade trade ties with Iran one year ago, this city lost business to the tune of Rs.5 billion,” says Sanjay Gupta, president, Parkland Exports.
Moradabad, named after Shah Jahan’s son Murad, has always been closely integrated with the world economy. Known as ‘pital nagri’, it is known world over for its brass industry, which was set up by the British. Ever since the 19th Century, the British had begun shipping pieces moulded and carved by local artisans to Europe. The exports market flourished even post-independence but, over time, global demand began to fall. Brassware was found to be chemically reactive to food, was expensive to make and looked old-fashioned. By 2000s, brass started giving way to aluminum first and then stainless steel, iron, wood and glass.
Today, this industry is made up largely of small and micro units, about 5,000 of them. The larger units are about ten in number. While the businesses here are still focused on exports, they are not insulated from domestic upheaval. The handicraft industry’s revenue has fallen from Rs.80 billion a year ago to Rs.60 billion. This is largely due to the “lousy” implementation of GST, according to Shailendra Aggarwal, Secretary, Indian Industries Association (IIA), Moradabad Chapter.
Aggarwal speaks passionately when he talks about the future of M