Thursday, May 26, 2005

Capital, it fails us now

From "Chessboard artisans struggle to survive" on
Artisans in Amritsar make their livelihood by chiseling wood pieces into fine chess pieces, as they provide the world market with premium chessboards.

However, the artisans say it is the exporters who manipulate and run the Industry....

With the emergence of cheap plastic pieces and chessboards as well as increase in the cost of living, the artisans bear the brunt of rising prices with no economic aid from the government.

"We need to get at-least Rs 400 for our work. The electricity and raw material is so expensive. With VAT the input costs have shot up. The middlemen know we have no backup and they exploit us," said Harbhajan Singh Jabbal, a small manufacturer.
I certainly don't know much of anything about the chess set manufacturing industry in India. However, it strikes me that this article smacks of the typical plea: "we little guys are being harmed by the big evil capitalists; government please step in and help us." In this age of the internet, it seems to me that these artisans have the means to circumvent the middlemen and set up their own distribution channels -- websites, eBay, etc. The artisans are being squeezed because they have accepted the status-quo structure of their industry. Instead of appealing to the government for help, they need to step out of the comfortable and familiar and take the initiative to change the rules.

P.S. No prizes, but a nice round of applause, for identifying the reference in this post's title.

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