The Kimberly Process Intersessional Meet in Mumbai organized a special forum for its delegates on the topic of Artisanal Mining- Small Steps to Larger Outcomes. The forum was moderated by Pranay Narvekar, an independent consultant who focuses on demand and supply, strategic, financial and structural problems of the diamond industry. The panel included Feriel Zerouki, Senior VP at DeBeers GemFair Project, Ullhas Shantaram Muke, President of Mumbai Dabbawalla Association, Mahendra Patel, President of All India Anagdia Association and Rupa Dutta, Economic Advisor at Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The objective of the meet was to discuss ideas to promote best practices for artisanal mining. It aims to create processes that will help convert the currently unorganized sector into a more formal and organized sector. Talking about their pilot initiative, GemFair Project, Senior Vice President, De Beers, Feriel Zerouki shared, “The purpose of the GemFair Project is to generate a secure route to market ethically sourced artisanal and small scale mined diamonds and change the narrative and perception on artisanal mining. The Project works closely with miners in the Sierra Leone region and has created various tools and processes for the miners to track the journey from mines to market.”
Mumbai’s iconic dabbawallas have been in business since the past 128 years and have managed to create an unprecedented logistical supply chain for delivering lunch boxes from employee homes to their place of work at lunch time and collecting these boxes and delivering them back to their respective homes all within the same day. Ullhas Shantaram Muke, President, Mumbai Dabbawalla Association said, “The Association employees over 5000 dabbawallas and manages to deliver over 200,000 lunch boxes per day. We cover a distance of 60 to 70 kilometers per day and are the only service that uses no fuel, paper, plastic or any form of technology during our operations. Our error free record stands at 1 error per 6 million transactions. We are 100% eco friendly and we believe that our work is worship. For our services, we charge a nominal fee of $7-$15 per month.”
The lifeline of the gem and jewellery industry, All India Angadia Association prides itself on the one factor that sets it apart from any other service- trust. Elaborating on this, President of the All India Angadia Association Mahendra Patel shares, “In order to promote safety and security of these valuable goods, the angadia is one of the leading logistics services in India. We have been delivering goods from Surat to Mumbai since the British rule and even use public transport such as trains for this purpose. We are extremely grateful for the trust the entire gems and jewellery industry have placed in us. Just as we would not have flourished without the help of the diamond industry, even the angadia service has played a pivotal role in propelling the gems and jewellery industry forward.”
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoC&I) has devised an initiative to create Common Facility Centres (CFC) for the diamond industry in order to promote SME’s of the gems and jewellery industry. Throwing light on this project, Rupa Dutta, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Commerce and Industry shares, “In 2013, GJEPC along with MoC&I conducted a survey of 13 different locations in Gujarat which found that there is severe shortage of skilled manpower which directly affects the quality of output in the diamond industry. The labourers have little to no exposure to various machines and technology and entire sector is highly unorganized. The CFC’s aim to bridge this gap and allow workers to hone their skills through identification of cutting and polishing hubs in the state. This initiative is entirely government funded aims to gradually become self sustaining units. We have already launched four Common Facilities Centres in Gujarat and are working on launching for more in the state. We hope to expand into the other states as well.”
Executive Director, GJEPC, Sabyasachi Ray gave inputs on the efforts started by GJEPC for upliftment of workers and labourers. “We have introduced Swasthya Ratna Policy which is a one of a kind health insurance policy for Gems and Jewellery work force and their family. We have managed to rope in leading insurance players for this and the scheme is applicable to all parts of India. As of 2019, the policy has managed to cover 500,000 lives since its inception in 2015. The premium rates have been lowered and GJEPC contributes 25% of the premium amount.” Apart from this, the GJEPC has also introduced the Parichay Card specially for contracted workers. “The objective of this initiative is to create a verified and well crafted database which features proper authentication and social security and also provide workers with better job opportunities and support from banks and financial institutions through a specially designed smart card.”