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Indian diamond and polishing industry requires forward integration - Dinesh Navadiya

20 july 2020

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Dinesh Navadiya is now the Regional Chairman (Gujarat Region) of The Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India for the 3rd term. He is also the Director on the Board of the Gem & Jewellery Skill Council of India (GJSCI); Director on the Board of Indian Diamond Institute (IDI) and Vice President of The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industries.

A graduate in Economics, Navadiya also holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) from Gujarat Vidhyapith, Ahmedabad. A diamantaire in his own right, Navadiya is a partner in Tiku Gems.

Navadiya has also served as the President of Surat Diamond Association for 7 years, representing industry matters to Government bodies for the welfare of MSMEs.

Here, in an interview with Rough & Polished, Dinesh Navadiya draws a positive picture of the state of the cutting and polishing centres, despite the current difficult phase. Expressing total confidence, Navadiya sees the revival of the resilient Indian diamond industry in the future.

Some excerpts:

The Indian diamond cutting & polishing sector has been severely hit in the last few years, but more so in recent times with demand from consumer markets dipping due to trade wars, riots, economy downturn, synthetic diamonds, coronavirus pandemic and what have you. Any suggestions for a way out of this situation.

Indian diamond and polishing industry requires forward integration from cutting and polishing towards manufacturing of gold and silver studded Diamond Jewellery which will, in turn, increase Indian manufacturers’ competitiveness in the global Jewellery market.

The current situation is world-wide and it will take some time for things to settle down.

As a major supplier of polished diamonds to the world markets, how do you think the slowdown in India’s manufacturing sector affects the global diamond/diamond jewellery markets? Will the LGD sector move in to fill the gap? Your comments.

India’s diamond industry has always catered to the global demand and will be the same for the future scenario. At present, the slowdown is observed worldwide and not only in India.

If there is a global demand for diamonds, the Indian manufacturing sector will meet their requirements. India’s diamond industry artisans are experts in cutting and polishing of diamonds. The charges and process of natural, synthetic and LGD diamonds are the same.

Many diamond producing countries like Africa, Russia etc have taken initiatives to establish diamond cutting & polishing hubs within their countries. How do you think this will affect India’s position, and what steps should be taken to maintain India’s position as the largest diamond manufacturing centre in the world?

Indian diamond cutting & polishing industry is a seven-decade-old industry driven by skills of artisans. It is not possible to rapidly develop this skilled manpower at an industrial scale.

In the past, countries like China tried to do the same but did not succeed. Manufacturing centres in Botswana and other African countries have developed due to laws prevailing in those countries.

But it is also necessary that Indian government accepts the recommendations given GJEPC for increasing exports in order to thrive and compete in the international market.

More recently, India’s diamond cutting centres, especially the biggest manufacturing Centre, Surat, has witnessed an exodus of diamond workers with no production for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Give us an overview of this unprecedented crisis that has affected the once buzzing Surat. Do you expect the workers to return in due course when things return to normal?

Gujarat’s current industry constitutes of workers which are majorly 75% from Gujarat and 25% are from outside Gujarat. Workers from outside Gujarat residing in Surat have migrated to their hometown due to effect of COVID-19.

Institutions like GJEPC, SDA & GJNRF has provided relief kit, financial aid & other relief measures to the workers of the industry.

The workers, especially from the region of Saurashtra & North Gujarat, have also resumed their work post uplifting of lockdown in Gujarat.

With rough diamonds importers in India been requested by trade organizations to voluntarily stop importing during June, do you think that this should be stretched for the next couple of months to bring a balance to the excess inventory of rough & polished stones in the Indian diamond industry?

The situation will be evaluated every month and a further decision will be taken accordingly.

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