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Why Assam’s women weavers worried about GST act?

As the nation of India is gradually trying to understand how the implementation of GST has affected their lives, many business houses in the country are contemplating how this new unified tax system is likely to impact their monthly and annual turnovers. One of the states that are likely to get most affected by this newly launched GST is Assam. Assam has a long history of handloom and handicraft industry that serves as a means for income for plenty of families. A large percentage of the weavers who work for the Assam handloom industry are women. These women often serve as one of the most famous bread earners for their families, even though they only have very little school education, to begin with, the only thing that they can rely on is their skills as handloom weavers. However, with the implementation of GST, it is going to be difficult for these women to early the livelihood that they once used to.

Assam is an area that is known for its production of Muga, Eri and Pat silk garments. These clothes are known for their creamy texture and look, and women widely wear the sarees that are made from them both in India and abroad. However, most of the families and the women who are responsible for their production live below the poverty line. While it is true that the handloom products produced in Assam contribute in a major way to the GDP of the country, the female workers who toil day and night to provide such handloom fabrics get to see very little of the profits that they deserve. In most of their houses which are in rural areas, there is hardly any electricity or other hints of modern development. Their low income leaves them with very little buying power that would allow them to have surplus money after they have invested in raw materials for the production of the handloom goods.

Women weavers of Assam worried about GST
Women weavers of Assam worried about GST

Before the implementation of GST, there were no taxes associated with the manufacture of the silk fabrics such as Muga and Eri that are so popular in Assam. However, according to the new rules of GST, the producers of such handlooms will have to pay a GST of 5%. GST will naturally increase the prices of the finished goods along with reduced margins for production. GST will not be acceptable by the customers who used to get these products at lower prices before the implementation of GST. Most affected by GST are the poor rural women who produce these handlooms for the national and global markets. The larger brands and corporations will find it easy to adjust to the changes brought by GST. They can even offer their products at reduced rates while still making a profit out of them. However, this will naturally make it a lot difficult for the rural producers of handloom products as they won’t find it easy to secure profits for themselves without increasing the prices of the finished goods.

Currently, there is an increased need for the government to exempt the handloom industry in Assam from paying the GST as it will help to protect the lives and livelihood of the women and families in this part of India who is involved in the production of such handlooms. Many politicians and reformers here strongly feel that the exemption of GST should be active as soon as possible as that would offer some hope for these people who are already living below the poverty line.