The Indian government locked down the country last year to avoid an out-of-control Covid-19 outbreak that so many countries around the world had endured. The plan was largely successful, but it crippled the Indian economy in the process.
Today India is facing its own devastating Covid-19 crisis, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reluctant to subject its economy to a new wave of unrest.
India’s economy can be crushed again anyway.
This is starting to happen in the leather industry in India.
India is a major world exporter of leather and leather goods. The country is the second largest exporter of leather garments and the fourth largest exporter of leather goods in the world, according to the Indian Council for Leather Exports (a division of India’s Ministry of Trade and Industry). It is also a major producer of shoes after China, producing nearly 3 billion pairs of shoes per year.
Last year, the pandemic struck a blow for India’s leather industry. Leather exports fell 29.1% last year from the previous year, as the industry lost nearly $ 1.4 billion in exports. That’s because buyers in the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom delayed purchases during their own lockdowns, according to Aqeel Panaruna, chairman of the Council for Leather Exports.
An industry expert, who did not want to be identified and is also infected with the coronavirus, said leather producers suffered a cumulative ripple effect from an extended shutdown last year. He fears that a worsening second wave could set the industry back once again.
Much of this worry is fueled by the dynamics of the industry’s workforce.
“The majority of the workforce is between the ages of 18 and 45 and has not yet been vaccinated,” noted Sanjay Leekha, vice president of CLE.
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