High GST hits 4th largest employer

Representational pic - A sreengrab from an ILO video

High GST hits 4th largest employer

Beedi industry cries for help

Beedi industry shut down can lead to spike up in Naxal violence, warns ex top cop

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (The CONNECT) - India’s 4th largest employer in the organized sector, the beedi industry, is today facing some extremely challenging times. Responsible for the livelihoods of over 4.5 crore people, the beedi industry is fighting for its survival, the All-India Beedi Industry Federation says.

The Federation today hosted a round table discussion to debate the effect of high rate of GST being levied and its direct effect on employment in the industry. 

A panel comprising B. Surendran, All India Organising Secretary - Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Khallilur Rahaman, Member of Parliament (TMC), Laxminarayan Yadav, Former Member of Parliament (BJP), A.M. Prasad, Director General of Police, Karnataka (Rtd.), and M.M. Rehman, Former Senior Fellow, V.V. Giri National Institute of Labour and shared their perspectives on the subject.

“The efforts of the Indian government and other organizations to devise alternative job opportunities have not yielded any results,” said B. Surendran, All India Organizing Secretary, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

 The thinking behind this to find a solution needs to be more rational in its approach. It is important for the government to reduce the current 28% rate of GST by making it mandatory for all beedi companies to register their entities under EPF and DSI and pay a reduced rate of GST. The Textile and Finance Ministry recently lowered the rate of GST on the textile industry and given the same parameters, the same must be instituted for the beedi industry,” Surendran said.

“Beedi is associated with a myth that portrays it as a cause behind Cancer, hence in many opinions this industry should no longer survive,” said Laxmi Narayan Yadav, Ex- Member of Parliament. 

The alternative to not consuming beedi should the industry get shut down as a result of high rates of GDP can be the consumption of gutkha, he said. 

The level of employment that can be generated for the gutkha industry, however, is far lower than needed by the Beedi industryWhile the consumption of beedi has not resulted in any adverse health issues, including personal. On the other hand, people consuming gutkha are often seen to contract mouth cancer and other serious health issues. Production of beedi is a source of livelihood for underprivileged women workers, and ultimately leads to women empowerment, explained Yadav.

“Banning or shutting down the beedi industry, will force many people to lose their livelihoods. With most of these people living in Naxal areas, there is a high possibility of an increase in Naxal related activities in these areas. This was clearly visible when the sudden shut down of the Kudremukh mines led to an immediate rise in anti-social or Naxal related activities.,” said A.M. Prasad, Ex-DGP (Karnataka).

Another very real threat is that of cheap Chinese tobacco entering the Indian market. In the coastal area of Karnataka alone, there are ten Beedi brands that not just provide an income for the family of workers but allows them to improve their standard of living, “  Prasad said

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