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Replacing Leather - Essay Example

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The Indian leather industry occupies a place of prominence in the Indian economy for its massive potential for employment, growth and exports. Since 1973, the government has transformed itself and the laws of its lands to nurture the leather industry…
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Replacing Leather

Download file to see previous pages... The Economics Indian Mirror in their article “The Indian Leather Industry” reported that the growth has been phenomenal, to say the least. From Rs.320 million in the year 1965-66 to Rs.69558 million in 1996-97. It also brings pride to the nation. The Indian leather industry today has been recognized for its quality and is now among the top seven foreign exchange earners of the country. From being a mere exporter of raw materials in the sixties, it is now a legitimate and dollar earning industry. The sector accounts for 2.5 per cent of the global leather-related trade of Rs. 387,200 crores. An estimated 15 per cent of total purchase of leading global brands in footwear, garments, leather goods & accessories, in Europe, and 10 percent of global supply is outsourced from India (Damodaran & Mansingh). The leather industry employs about 2.5 million people2 and has annual turn over of Rs. 25,000 crores (Damodaran & Mansingh). Engrained in the Culture The industry also goes beyond economics, it has become a part of Indian identity. Many who work in the industry, entrepreneurs and workers, feel that making leather is beyond making a living. It serves as the connection to their past and the only thing they have known to do. Thus, the organizational structure of leather companies are usually set up in a way that incorporates Indian family tradition as well as an attempt to a modern approach primarily due to the influence of the West who has been India’s biggest leather consumer. Environment Damage One may find over half of India's leather industry around the Ganga river basin. Through Utter Pradesh and West Bengal, treatment plants transform raw hide into materials to be used by Hollywood superstars and international socialites. It is this interest of designers and rich and famous that made this industry a major player in the country's economy. In West Bengal alone, there are 600 tanneries employing and 20,000 units manufacturing leather products. They employ 200,000 people (Brown, “Told To Clean Up”). There is the negative side though. It does more damage to the environment, one that does not compensate for what India gains financially. For one, they used different chemical processes that would preserve the leather. They soak and line the hide, remove the grease ad pickling the hide, and other processes that use salt as the primary ingredients. Brown further reported that about 3000 tonnes of salt are used to preserve 5000 tonnes of raw hide. The problem is 90% of this salt goes into the river and groundwater systems causing pollution and contamination. They also use other products like formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes—some of them cyanide-based. Most leather is chrome-tanned which has long been declared hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also reported that tanneries produce pollutants like protein, hair, salt, lime sludge, sulfides, acids, 2,000 pounds of solid waste including flesh and waste nearly 15,000 gallons of water a for every ton of hides that it processes. All these either say on the environment to damage the soil, water, and health of humans around or it goes straight to landfills together with the 800,000 tons of chrome shavings annually. In PETA’s article titled “Wool, Fur, Leather: Hazardous to the Environment” they said, “Groundwater near tanneries has been found with highly elevated levels of a variety of toxic substances. The Regis Tanning Co., Inc., operated a tanning facility from the early ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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