The temporary restriction by the government has hit the silk industry. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock Images)
With the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus outbreak a global health crisis, several restrictions have been imposed on China. Due to the deadly novel virus that originated in Wuhan city, India too has imposed restrictions on travel and import of 1500 tons of silk from China. According to ANI reports, the Banarasi saree trade is among many industries to face the brunt of the decision.
The temporary restriction by the government has hit the silk industry. According to Nishant Malhotra, founder of Weaverstory.com the shipment from China has been halted since January 20 due to the national holiday observed in the country on account of Chinese New Year. "The shipment of raw material was supposed to start by February 4 but it hasn't due to the coronavirus. This is going to affect the life of skilled workers and overall business," commented Malhotra. Without the raw material, the artisans can't continue to weave. "We have enough raw material till the end of February, but the future is unclear as the outbreak is severe in the country," he added.
According to Silk Road Association, which promotes Silk Road civil society Initiatives in Asia CIS, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and European countries, the coronavirus will impact global business and make the economy more sluggish with long-term implications. "The dupion silk, brought to India from China's Sichuan province, is the raw yarn that weavers in Banaras use to make the silk sari. Though it's produced in Bengaluru as well, there is significant difference in price and quality," an association spokesperson told indianexpress.com. The association has its regional offices located in France, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Hong Kong, SAR, PRC, Mainland China and India.
While talking to ANI, Rajan Behel, General Secretary of Banarasi Cloth Industry Association said that 20 per cent of the business has been affected already and pure silk is slowly disappearing from the market. "We are using the raw material which has already been imported, but there is a chance of hardship in future. Banaras consumes 90 per cent of silk imported from China," remarked Behel.
However, Sameer Khan owner of Banaras Silk Sarees, a wholesale store based in Harishchandra Ghat Road, Varanasi, believes the business has been low for a while now. "If the government has taken a decision over the outbreak, it must be a reasonable one," adds Khan.
Banarasi silk saris are a must-have in North Indian weddings for the bride and her relatives. "It is one piece which has seen consistent sales, especially during the wedding season," said Khan.
Bollywood, which is equally responsible for driving fashion trends in India, has showcased Banarasi silk on various occasions. Anushka Sharma wore a red Sabyasachi creation at her New Delhi reception. And if you follow Deepika Padukone, you would agree that she has always flaunted her love of silk.