Demonetisation: Lucknow’s chikankari weavers say business hit


The famous chikankari and zardozi business in this city has taken a beating following demonetisation, weavers complain. The usually over-crowded markets like Ameenabad and Chowk are witnessing much less footfall for past one and a half month. Ameenabad and Chowk are the hub of chikan clothes while Hazratganj has many grand showrooms. Zardozi workers are mainly found in the area between Akbari gate and Gol darwaja in the walled city.

While chikankari is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow believed to have been introduced by Noor Jahan, the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir, weavers use gold and silver threads in zardozi work.

Lucknow zardozi products are manufactured in areas in Lucknow and six surrounding districts of Barabanki, Unnao, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Hardoi and Amethi.

B K Rastogi, owner of the over six-decades-old ‘Bhagwat and Sons’ shop at Chowk area, says sales have dropped by 40 per cent due to demonetisation.

“Seventy per cent of contractual workers are struggling and there are difficulties in circulation. The worst affected are kaarigars (weavers) who are not getting enough work. We supply to cities like Mumbai and Delhi but there is around 40 per cent drop in sales,” Rastogi told PTI.

“The process of chikankari includes designing, engraving, block printing, embroidery, washing and finishing and for every step we hire kaarigars who are paid in cash. It is difficult for businessmen as there is a withdrawal limit post demonetisation. We can’t pay them through Paytm or cards,” he adds.

Zafar Ali, who has been handling his ancestral zardozi business at Shahi Shafakhana Chowk, says the note ban has made their lives very difficult.

“There are 12-13 kaarigars working on daily wages here. We purchase raw material in cash and it is difficult now due to lack of cash. Normally we get orders from big showrooms but there are not enough orders these days. Forget about profit, it is getting harder even to retrieve the cost,” he adds.

Ali says now nobody in his family is willing to take up this business.

“Zardozi is an art but we don’t have many artisans nowadays. Not many kaarigars are left in the city now and my family is not unwilling to take this business forward,” he rues.

The owner of Kailash Chikans at Bhootnath Market in Indirapuram is only hoping that business gets back on track soon.

“Though this (demonetisation) decision was taken in the interest of country’s economy, it has affected our business adversely. We are now praying that things become normal,” he says.

Another attraction of Lucknow which no one likes to miss when on a visit to the city is Tunday Kababi at Ameenabad.

The over-a-century-old outlet which serves mouth-watering galawati kebabs is also witnessing reduced footfall since 8 November, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation decision.

“We don’t use Paytm and since out shop is situated at the basement, there is problem with the mobile network. We deal in cash only and the biggest issue is change. On normal days, our outlet remains crowded but now there has been a drastic drop in footfall,” says Mohammad Usman, the owner of the outlet.

(With inputs from PTI)