India- Behined the Gloss and Glitter

Date: 26 January 2007
Source: Hindu and communication with a glass manufacturer in Firozabad
Glassware manufacturing is the only household occupation of every citizen in Firozabad. The art, which once used to be the genetic quality of upcoming generation, is now the only source of income of the city.

The glass manufacturing units, it can be said, are embedded in every nook and corner of the city.

Glass bangles is one of the main product of city.RED, green, blue, yellow, gold-lined, silver-edged, bright and beautiful... you name it and you will find it. They are all there, in the loveliest of colours and design — work of art crafted by labouring hands in hazardous conditions. Not many realise the sweat and blood that goes into crafting the colourful glass bangles which line the shelves of shops across the country. Each of these bangles passes through the hands of about 60 workers before it reaches the shops.

Firozabad, a dusty small town in Uttar Pradesh, about 40 kilometres from the city of the Taj, is synonymous with glass and bangles. On a sweltering humid day, I decided to sample the city for a first-hand experience. 

To give the shape to their imagination, artisans of glassware start working very early in the morning, round about 4 o'clock, and continue with it till 4 of the evening. Work is very tiring and need lot of concentration. Artisans have to work with very little light. As the glass takes shape in the molten state only, so any ventilation or air is a curb to work.

Workers involved in the manufacturing of glass bangles are also facing lot of problems. The wages of the job are very less. For joining a set of around 300 bangles, locally called as ‘Toda’, an artisan gets only 2 INR. Thus, working non-stop from 4 o’clock from the morning to 4 of the evening, an artisan earns not more than 25 to 30 INR per day. The main problem of the work is that the workers get the raw material through contractor, who gets the bangles direct from manufacturer. This mediator decides the wages by maintaining his percent of profit. Manufacturers, to give the bangles for joining, ask for the security deposit, which ranges from tens of thousands, poor artisans are not able to give this amount hence, they have to work for the contractor.

The Glass industry of Firozabad although, a shining example of craftsmanship on glass, is also not able to fulfill the desires of the craftsmen of art.

600450 India- Behined the Gloss and Glitter

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