Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 in Tamil Nadu have now begun to affect the domestic garment industry, particularly in the hosiery town of Tiruppur.
According to a garment manufacturer in Tiruppur, the industry has begun to see an unusual trend in the last couple of weeks. Buyers, who are supporting the anti-CAA protests, are not availing of supplies, pointing out to anti-CAA protests.
The effect of this trend could be felt in another week or 10 days’ time.
In Tiruppur, knitted garments for the domestic sector are bought by a group of traders in the town, who then sell them across the country, particularly northern India. These knitted garments also include the surplus that producers make for the export market.
“The problem is that a majority of these traders are Muslims, who have stopped buying knitted garments, especially innerwear, from the producers, who are mostly Hindus. They are pointing to the anti-CAA protests to slow down their orders,” said the garment producer from the town, on the condition of anonymity.
These traders, who take supplies of the knitted garments from the producers and distribute them across the country, make up for nearly 75 per cent of the volume produced for the domestic market.
According to a Tiruppur Exporters Association official, the association has not heard anything on the problems faced by the producers. “We have not come across such a development. No one has reported any such problem till now,” the official said.
The garment manufacturer said: “these traders have a long-standing relationship with their buyers in other parts of the country. This is because they know Hindi or have people speaking Hindi with their staff. Most of us manufacturers are handicapped by the lack of Hindi knowledge.”
As a result, these traders have slowed down the business. They are buying only from a select few, while many others are now left with their unlifted stocks. The domestic knitted garment industry is worth over Rs 2,000 crore.
“It is not just lifting supplies. They have not settled our dues. They say since the business is dull, they will clear them later,” the producer said.
Knitwear producers in Tiruppur see this as a new trend to stifle their business, especially after “Shaheen Bagh” type protests were launched in Tamil Nadu last month.
Such protests are being held at quite a few cities in the state. Indications are that elements who were behind earlier violent protests in Tamil Nadu such as Marina Beach (for reviving jallikattu or bullfight) and Thoothukudi, demanding the closure of the Sterlite Copper Plant, are active in these agitations.
There are two objectives to this slowdown resorted to by these traders.
One, to show how anti-CAA protests have led to a slowdown in business and economy. This will also affect buyers in the north.
Two, this will force people who have remained neutral or supported CAA to turn against the government and blame it for the problem.
“The traders are doing limited business only with people of their community or those who sympathise with them,” said the producer.
Tiruppur, India’s knitwear hub, contributes nearly 90 per cent of cotton knitwear products in the country.
The district provides direct employment to at least 3 lakh people and indirect employment to an equal number of people.
Currently, the garment manufacturing units are getting employees from as far as the North East with some reports alleging that some workers hail from Bangladesh too.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.