BJP government’s crackdown on Muslim-run leather units dents India’s exports

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Amidst rapid decline in economy following questionable economic measures taken by the Centre’s Narendra Modi government, it has now emerged that India’s exports of leather shoes have also gone down by 13 percent. This is largely due to the BJP government’s crackdown on Muslim-run abattoirs and the trade of cattle.

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A report by Reuters said that leading leading global brands such as H&M, Inditex-owned Zara and Clarks had now cut back their orders to India and turned to China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan to secure supplies. The report further said that the sharp drop in exports of shoes and leather garments comes as a setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has sought to create millions of jobs by more than doubling the leather industry’s revenues to $27 billion by 2020.

Nazir Ahmed, CEO of shoemaker Park Exports, told Reuters by phone from Agra, a shoe-making hub and home to the Taj Mahal, “The writing was already on the wall.. We have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.”

Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, had ordered brutal crackdown on Muslim-run ‘illegal’ slaughterhouses after being sworn in as the state’s chief minister in March this year. However, people associated with the leather industry say that much of India’s meat and leather trade depend on informal sector as licences are hard to get.

The Centre’s Modi government in May had ordered a ban on sale of cattle for slaughters, though the Supreme Court had reversed that order. However, the leather and meat industry are not feeling any respite.

“The supreme court has allowed the resumption of trade for cattle, but the ground reality is that cow vigilante groups continue to be active and no one wants to risk his life by transporting cattle,” Ahmed told the news agency.

India, the world’s second-biggest supplier of shoes and leather garments, exports nearly half its leather goods, with overseas sales estimated at $5.7 billion in the 2016/17 fiscal year to March, down 3.2 percent from a year earlier. Footwear exports fell more than 4 percent in April-June, to $674 million.

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