From the time in 2009 when diamond barons had to cut short the Diwali vacations of the workers to recover from the global recession and restart units early to meet the Christmas demand, to last year when Savji Dholakia, owner of Hare Krishna Diamonds decided to gift cars to his employees, the glitter seems to be coming back to Surat’s diamond industry.
Surat which is said to polish 90 per cent of the world’s diamonds, has nearly 4000 polishing units employing over five lakh workers mainly from Saurashtra, north Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Last year in December, Dholakia had given Chevrolet Beat cars to 72 of 100 employees who had met targets, just before Christmas, while the rest were given cash above Rs three lakh to pay up their home loans. Many of those who got cars, did not even know how to drive. The beneficiaries were short listed from 2000 artisans.
This year, of the 6000 Dholakia employs, he found 1200 such deserving ones for this performance incentive. Fiat Punto cars were given to 496 of them, two bedroom flats to 207 workers, and diamond studded gold jewellery to 570 workers, on Sunday.
Sources said that a diamond worker earns between Rs. 25000 to Rs. 3 lakh per month.
Dholakia plans to raise the bar and give an option of a foreign trip for his employees next year.
Talking to the Indian Express Dholakia who is fondly called ‘kaka’ in his firm, said, “We don’t treat diamond polishers as employees but as family members as they hail from the same area from where we belong. We have given them gift as per their performance in the company. This will help to build competition among the diamond workers in our company and many workers will be motivated by this and they will also fix a target and will achieve it in next year. By such competition the quality of the work in our company will be improved.”
Surat Diamond Association president Dinesh Navadia said, “The diamond industry is in unorganized way as there is no uniform policy in the industry interms. Once in an year, during Diwali festival the diamond factory owners gives incentives to the diamond artisans. The incentive varies in different means like cash, house, jewellery, cars, bikes, etc. With this attempt the diamond merchants makes their workers happy so that they could come back to work after Diwali vacations and resume early.”
Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) past chairman of Gujarat Region Chandrakant Sanghvi says , “The total business of the diamond industry is worth 20,000 million US dollars. The exact figure of how much sale happens during Christmas, cannot be ascertained.”
Mahesh Mangukia a diamond polisher working with Hare Krishna exports said, “Seeing our performance the company manager had put three options like car, house, or diamond studded gold jewellery (secured investment). I am staying here in a rented house shared with other diamond polishers. My wife and children stays at my native place. I showed interest in the flat so that I can call my wife and children from my native place and we would stay here happily. The car or jewellery would mean nothing to me.”
Another diamond polisher Dinesh Patel said, “Last year the company had given cars to 72 diamond merchants. One of my friend and co-worker also got it and this year he had taken diamond jewellery. I was jealous and set my target for a car. I learnt to perfect my work from this friend, worked hard and this year I have got it. This type of competitions helps to improves work quality.”
The Christmas sale in world market gives boost to the diamond industry. After Diwali vacations the polishing business usually faces a shortage of skilled workmanship and this affects production for the Christmas demand.
To overcome such issues, some diamond merchants give half the Diwali bonus to the diamond polishers and assure them of the other half when they get back to work after the vacation. “This helps ensure that the diamond polisher does not quit”, said a diamond merchant Suresh Patel who runs a factory in Varachha area.
Sanghvi said, “The rough diamonds generally comes from the mines in Belgium, Canada, Russia, Dubai, African countries. After polishing work the major share goes to US, China, UAE, Dubai, etc. The diamonds are exported through different diamond firms which has offices in foreign countries or through wholesaler exporters. The polished diamonds are also sold in the local domestic market in India.”