Lok Sabha elections 2019: Automation hits business of these seasonal flag-makers
Around seven years ago, the election season brought cheer to local women who made money by preparing publicity material. But the Lok Sabha elections this time have left them a bit disappointed as their business has taken a hit amid increased automation in machinery and centralised supply of publicity material by national parties.
Women preparing flags of different political parties ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Jalandhar.
Nevertheless, these women are still trying hard to get whatever business they can.
Asha, 35, and her four neighbours — Rani, 65, Kavita, 38, Parveen, 52, and Dilmohini, 65, — who reside on the Nakodar road in Jalandhar, have been making publicity material for the past two decades during the polls. They used to work 10 hours a day to complete their supply orders.
Asha said around 250 to 300 women, who tied up with private firms, used to stitch publicity material in Jalandhar till 2012.
“Now just a few women are left in the business as the earnings are not commensurate with the time invested and input costs. Automation has also put a major dent to the business as printing press owners prefer to get the flags and other publicity material stitched from machines. They find it cheaper that way,” she said.
She also pointed out that national parties have started giving centralised contracts for publicity material in New Delhi and their candidates also prefer to buy various items from those contractors.
“Local printers are now getting less business and that affects us too as we rely on them for work. We earned around ₹2 lakh to ₹3 lakh each in 2012 assembly elections. Even during the 2017 state polls, we did good business as the local candidates directly approached us for supplies. But this time, we have got very few orders,” she added
Parveen said, “Contractors are not ready to pay us adequately for the hard work and the time we invest in preparing publicity material. They prefer to buy it from big firms on cheaper rates.”
She added, “Earlier, we used to get engaged in the work at least a month before the elections. Now, we have very less work, but we are still proud of doing it as we think we are contributing to the electoral process of the country.”
Yogesh Kohli, owner of a printing press who is into the business for more than 50 years, said, “Several women approached us for getting job work this time, but our own hands are empty. We didn’t get any contract from political parties due to centralisation of supplies. Whatever little work we get, we will produce the material on machines to save time and labour cost.”