Bangle Industry in India: The Cruel Darkness Behind The Vibrant Hues

Posted on April 8, 2012 in Society

By Abdul Wahid Khan:

A Bangle is a type of ornament worn mostly by South Asian women and men in different style. It is most famous in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and is worn in Bangladesh too. The ornament is nothing new, it has a long history. A statue of a dancing girl wearing bangle on the left arm was found in Mohenjo-Daro civilization’s site which belongs to around 2500 BC; this was followed by several other statues from Indian cities which show the spread of bangles across India.

In India, Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh is said to be the world’s largest producer of bangles. Different communities have come up to work together and present a beautiful example of communal harmony in diverse India.

On the other hand, Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of glass bangles in the world. The Sadar Bazar of Firozabad is most famous for bangle shops. For production of bangles, the latest innovations are tried in the technology for production. Locally developed machinery is employed which is maintained locally as well. This machinery uses natural gas instead of coal which was conventionally used up till now. Use of natural gas is more eco-friendly and reduces pollution. It is also more effective in heating glass. Each machine costs around Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 70,000 which is affordable even by small industries.

The Lad Bazar in Hyderabad is one of the most famous and largest markets of bangles in India. It is situated in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh and houses a total of around 350 bangle shops. The price of bangles here can range from Rs. 100 to Rs. 5,000 per pair. Generally, the total daily business is of around Rs. 30 lacs plus the exports. There are around 150 workshops in which there are 4,000 artisans who work and of which 60% of are women. Women handle mostly the stonework decoration on bangles. In Lad bazar, the number of people working in bangle shops has increased from around 200 to 15,000 in last 10 years. Demand for bangles is increasing in this market. The market is so lucrative that even those who hold professional qualifications are getting involved in home businesses in Lad Bazar. I will give the example of Mohammad Gouse who holds an M.C.A. degree and now sells bangles in Lad Bazar.

The most common bangles are lac bangles and glass bangles. Lac is a type of clay and these bangles are very brittle. Brass and Silver framed bangles are also famous for wedding purposes and have a good market in Lad Bazar. Different materials can be used to make bangles. The price of the lac bangles are around Rs. 120 per pair while glass bangles are cheaper and cost around Rs. 20 to Rs. 30 a dozen. The price of the bangles can depend highly upon the decoration done on them and the type of material used to make them.

There is also a black side of the bangle industry. Child labour is still used extensively in Sadar Bazar market of Firozabad. Vikrant who is a child labourer there says, “I work in bangle factory for 8 hours and manage to earn 30 to 35 rupees a day. I have no time for studies and I do not have any option”.

Assistant Labour Commissioner rejects these facts. There have been some raids on some factories before and it has reduced to some extent but it’s still quite widespread.

The bangle industry is growing a lot in India and it supplies extensively to whole country as well as exports to the whole world. There are various art exhibitions and Indian merchants have good market there from foreign shoppers. These bangles are also sold online nowadays with the boom in online shopping in India. This industry is on its way to further growth and has a bright future.