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The Growing Indian Leather IndustryBy Expert Author: Aldan Shelette
The growth of Indian leather companies in particular and the leather industry in general over the last decade has resulted in the exponential growth of leather exports from blue hide to finished leather and leather products. A product wise breakup of leather exports shows us that finished products are preferred to raw materials, unlike other products like textiles and diamonds. The export figures for the period April 2013- Jan 2014 are footwear (42% of net leather exports), followed closely by leather goods and crafts (23%) and saddle& harness (22%). Lather garments (11%) make up the rest of the exports while finished leather contributes a mere 2 % to the overall exports. This growth can be directly attributed to the vision and efforts of the state and central governments as well as the Council of Leather Exports (CLE).
Welfare Schemes for Workers
There has been a focus on not just the industry in general but also on the workers as well as the leather companies in India. Many schemes have been implemented for the welfare and development of the industry in general and their worker in particular. The last decade has seen not only the establishment and growth of many leather factories but also the revival of traditional handicrafts including leather products. Handicrafts are in high demand both in India and abroad. The dynamic increase in exports can be directly linked to the resurgence of traditional crafts which are unique as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Promoting Cottage Industries
The large scale productions from factories and leather companies in India can in no way be compared to the exquisite beauty of a hand tooled bag or shoe. Each region of India has a distinct method of working on leather and the crafts are easily distinguished. In Karnataka, you will find paintings from epics and well as mythological characters on the leather products. Gold and silver are the colours primarily used for these paintings. Andhra Pradesh is famous for its leather toys and puppets. The decorative saddles, shoes, lamps and lampshades of Rajasthan, Bengali leather products like bags traditionally decorated with geometric designs and patterns, ornamental Kashmiri leather products, embroidered bags and shoes from Madhya Pradesh are all distinct and distinguishable from each other.
Skilled labour in Leather Industry
Cottage industries promote the traditional crafts while the bigger factories are primarily into large scale production of leather and leather products. Most Indian leather companies specialize in a particular product with some preferring to limit themselves to tanning and curing, while others manufacture only a particular good like shoes or bags. The companies who deal with a cross section of products are limited mainly due to the lack of skilled labour. In an attempt to address this issue, the CLE has launched many certificate courses in specialized areas of leather manufacturing process which cater to the needs of the industry.
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