After biriyani and pearls, there is one thing Hyderabad is famous for- the glittering glass bangles. However the shimmer of the laad bazaar blurs the tough lives of the bangle makers, especially women.
Many of the bangle makers have been into this field of making bangles for the past 15 years. They are constantly pulled by the “poverty hole” that their life still remains in zilch. Jagdish colony, beyond Charminar is the hub of the bangle makers, where there belongs a bangle maker in almost every family.
Mostly women are being employed in the bangle making industries as it requires more patience and craft. For all the hard work that they do they are usually paid Rs 10 to Rs 20 for two dozen bangles-such a meagre amount for all the pain they undertake to do the crafting. At the same time these bangles in market fetch the price ranging from Rs 30 to Rs 12,000. See the irony. Don’t you? On one hand the retailers harvest money from the sets of bangles that these poor women make toiling themselves for days. The artisans and business owners are however under the constant pressure to innovate and improve the finish and pattern to keep up in the cut throat competition that they conveniently look through the hitches of the craftswomen. Home- based workers use mostly their own households as the workrooms and they themselves pay for electricity, gas and water and all other necessities required for the production. Still they don’t receive any proper wages.
The women working in this industry were exposed to grave health problems because of the handling of the chemicals. Most of them even suffer from lose of sight after spending a lifetime in the industry.The business has been ‘growing phenomenally over the years owing to exports with an expanding work force from 200 to 15,000’ comments Mohammad Shah, a shop owner.
These workers also in one way or the other contributes for the growing national economy. But the government and the owners of the glass bangle industry are turning a deaf ear to their needs and amenities. The government should at least fix minimum wages for them like the other labourers of the formal sectors. Otherwise the lives that breathe life into every choodiya would continue to live in the murky shades sans the glitters of life.