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14 october 2019

anantha_padmanaban_xx.pngN Anantha Padmanaban took charge as the Chairman of the All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) in January 2019. He has immense hopes and confidence in the Indian jewellery sector. His motto is to ‘ensure that after the day’s business, a retailer should go home with a smile on his face. Because, if the retailer is happy, then wholesaler and manufacturer are also happy… thus also keeping artisans happy and strengthening the entire value chain.’

A founder member of GJC, Padmanaban is the current Chairman of All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC), which was formerly known as All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF). Padmanaban has decades of experience in the Indian Jewellery sector. His retail Brand NAC Jewellers is well-known in India.

Here, in an interview with Rough & Polished, Anantha Padmanaban is optimistic on the jewellery sector of India and confident of its further growth and contribution to the country’s GDP.

Some excerpts:

As Chairman and even earlier as a member of the GJC, what steps have been taken to initiate representations to the central government to find solutions for the issues faced by the jewellery industry. For the benefit of our readers, can you take us through the efforts put forth by GJC?

I am the founder member of GJC right from 2004. We have solved excise duty issues of 2005, 2012 & GST in 2015. Again, we solved PMLA in 2017. Other than this, we have had serious discussions with BIS on hallmarking issues and we are in touch with GST Council on various difficulties faced by G & J sector

As a jeweller, I have found many changes over 30 years. Initially, we used to have limited stocks and show them designs, but now they need everything readymade and in huge numbers. Today a large number of unorganised sector is moving towards the organised sector and GJC through its LABHAM & MANTHAN are educating the jewellers to become more compliant. Today, 30 to 40% are organised sector holding 60% of the overall business.

Being an established jeweller yourself, what transformations have you seen in the Indian jewellery sector over the years … in terms of doing business by jewellers; jewellery demand in general; of diamond/colour stone content, gold content, design, etc.?

I have seen a huge transformation in the jewellery sector like being a single store, whereas today people have 150 plus stores. We never had exhibitions, today every month we have exhibitions and we can go around and buy from across the country different varieties from one exhibition.

Diamonds are used everywhere, designs are playing a major role in diamonds and colour stones. There is a shift in the taste of the customers from plain gold jewellery to studded jewellery.

What percentage of the once unorganized domestic jewellery sector do you think is well organised now? GJC had taken many steps to educate domestic jewellers on issues connected with GST, to help jewellers become compliant and organised. Do you think the industry members are using the knowledge in their businesses?

Yes, of course, they are utilising to the maximum from our much-appreciated LABHAM programmes conducted across the country.

How has the government responded to the jewellery sector’s issues around Central Excise Duties, Hallmarking, production of Pan Card and others? What issues should the government focus on to eradicate or rectify, on a priority basis?

The Government has been responding very well for all the issues we raise with them, but we expect them to call us and discuss before forming the rules, whether it’s in finance or commerce or consumer affairs. That will bring in a lot of relief to the industry.

Do you feel that reports of synthetics and CZs being used in the place of real diamonds will badly hit demand for diamond-studded jewellery in India? What steps do you suggest bringing back consumer confidence in the country?

Fraud happens everywhere but jewellers shouldn’t encourage such things. We need to install the detective machines to get the customer confidence back.

High gold prices have resulted in jewellery demand in the country declining in recent times. With Diwali round the corner, what do you anticipate? Your take.

Prices have gone up by 25% within 45 days so at present people are avoiding, but once the season starts people will get adjusted to new rates and will come back to buy. How long they can resist, marriages have to happen and gifting has to take place.

The Union Budget for 2019-20 was a disappointment for the jewellery sector. Has GJC’s representations to the government yielded any good results till today?

It’s a big disappointment, but we have met FM twice in 39 days and we have represented on behalf of the industry and we are confident that, they will roll back at the earliest.

What is your opinion on the current situation in the gem and jewellery industry in the country? Demand for jewellery per se has been reported to be dismal, even during the festival seasons. Your thoughts?

I have already answered this question, but still, I would like to say demand will pick up once the season starts.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished