Leather & Footwear

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The biggest asset of a country is its people. A country depends on the culture, tradition and belief of the people of the country. It gives the country and identity and a superior status to be among all other countries. However, it is not so simple for a country like India which is diverse in every aspect. Broken into different states, the people of each state have their own set of customs, traditions and beliefs. There is a subtle difference in the culture of any two chosen states. The only common thing among all Indians is the will to uplift and protect their tradition and culture.

The Kolhapur Chappal

In the state of Maharashtra, the Kolhapur Chappals go long back in history. They are a part of the people’s tradition of that place. These shoes get their name from the leather used, which comes from a place called Kolhapur. These are purely made out of leather and no chemicals are used in processing it. The Kolhapur Chappal industry has been flourishing because of the quality they produce. These footwear not only attract locals, but also people from all over the country. As a matter of fact, even the foreigners and Bollywood stars have an attraction towards these shoes.

The reason for its decline

After BJP coming to power, there have been a lot of changes that took place in the country. Particularly in Maharashtra, and some other BJP majority states, beef ban was implemented. There has been an amendment in the Animal Protection Act of 1995, which added that killing of Ox, Cows, Bulls, and Bullocks are illegal and would be treated as a crime. Though the idea behind it was to uphold their tradition and culture as Cows are sacred animals to the Hindus, it negatively impacted the Kolhapur Chappal industry. The source of leather was primary from the slaughtered bulls and cows which were totally banned. Hence, there was a dearth of raw material for manufacturing of the shoes. The tanners were not being able to get sufficient leather to produce the shoes.

The after effect

Initially the tanners of the industry thought of importing the leather from other states. Places like Kanpur and Kolkata has enough supply of leather, but were far away. Not only the transportation cost would increase but also the leather would get spoilt while transporting from such a long distance. They then started importing from Chennai since it was close to Maharashtra. The leather was as good as the leather available in Maharashtra but they had insufficient quantity. Also, logistic costs would add up to the production cost. Therefore, it was not a feasible option. As a result of the only the big organisations were able to keep up with the production, while the small-scale industries had to shift to some other small-scale jobs with meagre daily wage.

Conclusion- Kolhapur chappal has been a part of Maharashtra’s tradition for ages. However, to uphold one part of the tradition, that is saving cows, the Kolhapur chappal industry declined due to lack of supply. The finest craftsmen and tanners had to switch to other jobs to afford their bread and butter.