Chessboard artisans struggle to survive

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:52 IST

Artisans in Amritsar make their livelihood by chiseling wood pieces into fine chess pieces, as they provide the world market with premium chessboards.

Chessboard artisans struggle to survive
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Amritsar:

Artisans in Amritsar make their livelihood by chiseling wood pieces into fine chess pieces, as they provide the world market with premium chessboards. However, the artisans say it is the exporters who manipulate and run the Industry. "The artisans pass on the skills to their children and entire families work on chess boards. But the exporters run the industry on their terms and make maximum profits," said Rajesh Sharma, a manufacturer. "The skilled artisans, who do all the hard work, end up being where they are," he added. Mounting troubles With the emergence of cheap plastic pieces and chessboards as well as increase in the cost of living, the artisans bear the brunt of rising prices with no economic aid from the government. "We need to get at-least get Rs 400 for our work. The electricity and raw material is so expensive. With VAT the input costs have shot up. The middlemen know we have no backup and they exploit us," said Harbhajan Singh Jabbal, a small manufacturer. Once a thriving lot, the manufacturing units in northern Amritsar are now close to a checkmate situation, and the artisans have been reduced to mere pawns.

Topics : Chess
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