Surat Diamond Artisans Seek Financial Support from G7 Countries for Ban on Russian Diamonds
According to DWUG, approximately 28 diamond workers have tragically taken their own lives in the last four months due to unemployment and financial stress. They fear that a blanket ban on Russian diamonds could lead to even more suicides among the struggling workforce.
Surat : The world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing center, Surat, is abuzz with calls for financial support to its over 10 lakh (1 million) diamond artisans as the G7 countries deliberate imposing a blanket ban on Russian diamonds. The Diamond Workers Union Gujarat (DWUG) has urged G7 delegation members to consider the dire consequences such a ban might have on the livelihoods of thousands of workers in Surat and Gujarat.
The DWUG’s plea comes in response to the partial ban on Russian diamonds, which has already left thousands of workers jobless. According to DWUG, approximately 28 diamond workers have tragically taken their own lives in the last four months due to unemployment and financial stress. They fear that a blanket ban on Russian diamonds could lead to even more suicides among the struggling workforce.
Why are Russian Diamonds Essential for Surat?
Russian diamonds, primarily mined by Alrosa, a state-owned diamond mining company, hold a unique significance for Surat’s artisans. These diamonds are renowned for their smaller sizes, sturdiness, unique fire, and higher cost, making them ideal for the city’s skilled artisans to transform into exquisite jewelry pieces. Moreover, the G7 countries constitute a significant market for imported diamonds that are polished in Surat and Gujarat. Surprisingly, despite the G7’s partial restrictions on Russian diamonds, India’s import of these precious stones surged by 35 percent in the first six months of 2023, reaching a staggering $616 million this year.
Surat plays a pivotal role in the global diamond supply chain, with nearly 90 percent of the world’s diamonds being cut and polished in India. Approximately 30 percent of diamonds imported into Gujarat are believed to be of Russian origin.
The Appeal for G7 Support
Bhavesh Tank, Vice-President of DWUG, emphasized, “If G7 countries want to ban Russian diamonds due to concerns about funds being used to support the Ukraine war, they should also consider the human rights violations occurring in Surat, where thousands of diamond artisans are jobless, and many have tragically committed suicide. We stand with the G7 countries in their call to ban Russian diamonds, provided they assure financial support to the unemployed workers in Surat and Gujarat.”
Members of the G7 delegation recently visited diamond factories in Surat, engaging with factory owners and discussing the potential impact of the ban on diamonds of Russian origin on the Indian diamond industry. They gathered valuable information from these companies on how and where they source their raw materials, particularly rough diamonds.
Dinesh Navadia, a leader in the diamond industry, stated, “The G7 delegation met with industry stakeholders as part of their study tour ahead of the proposed ban on diamonds originating from Russia in the wake of the Ukraine war. The delegation will prepare a comprehensive report on the feasibility of such a ban and its potential impact on Surat. Subsequently, they will draft a policy that takes into account the concerns of our industry and workforce.”