Bangalore Gunny Merchants Association History Essay

When we foremost started fixing for this term paper, we had no thought of what we were acquiring into. None of us had any experience with commerce-based associations – in our treatments since we were given the subject for the term paper, we realized that, for some ground, market-based entities and constructions were a really distant field in the existence of developmental issues as we had come to believe of it. Market economic systems, market constructions, and other market related constructs were long seen as sole of ‘social action ‘ by many people ; and it is merely late that we have started looking into how societal and cultural forms form trade and commercialism, and how they, in return, profoundly influence societal and cultural constellations. Sing this relationship between the ‘economic ‘ and the ‘social ‘ at work was something we experienced at first hand during this exercising and was the biggest acquisition for us from this experience. What was antecedently a distant construct of market related constructs became a batch sharper, more distinguishable, and more mainstream with respect to the thought of effectual ‘social action ‘ .

As we made our manner to interview the Bangalore Gunny Merchants Association, negociating the crowds and narrow, weaving waies of Old Bangalore that were taking us deeper into Chikpete market where the Association office was located, we could n’t assist but believe of the societal facets of this market community – how did the bargainers and tradesmans interact with each other ; did they worry about doing terminals run into when they went place ; did they vie with each other for inexpensive and easy labour ; what did the names of their stores denote ; what feelings did the bargainers have for this market in which they had spent their full lives ; in short, what were their narratives? When we reached the Association, our response at first was tepid – the Working Committee members had come together for their monthly meeting and, non recognizing that our group members understood Tamil, were discoursing amongst each other in Tamil, stating that they should merely feed us any information in order to acquire rid of us rapidly. From this unpromising start, we managed to acquire them to open up to us and speak to us candidly about what they thought were the issues disturbing them.

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Through the interview, they painted us a image of progressively profitless concern in a dying field. In this scenario, we feel that the Association has, wittingly or unwittingly, progressively come to stand for the rich and powerful section of the bargainers who are utilizing this construction to keep a just grade of control over the trade. The non-Association attached bargainers we interviewed in the market topographic point were clear that the Association does non assist them in any manner, and some of them did non cognize about the Association at all. This tendency may non be a witting scheme, but could easy be seen as a merchandise of traditionally patterned theoretical accounts seeking to accommodate to an sharply changing, dynamic market order. The narrative that emerged showed a state of affairs where an externally democratic or ‘rational ‘ theoretical account of disposal has been adapted to include traditionally patterned exclusionary policies in pattern. Below, we lay out the high spots we have engaged with in our analysis.

A small spot about the merchandise

Gunny merchandises, as the name connotes, are made of gunny, a type of thickly woven cloth by and large made up of natural, non-toxic, biodegradable fibres like jute. The term burlap is believed to be originated from Sanskrit word Goni which means ‘bag ‘ or ‘sack ‘ – during colonial times, the word was absorbed in the English linguistic communication. The gunny stuff is breathable and therefore resists condensation and associated spoilage of the contents. It is besides lasting plenty to defy unsmooth handling in theodolite, and so, in the signifier of bags or pokes, was chiefly used for transit of agro merchandises like wheat, rice, tea, java, millet, murphies and other veggies and harvests.

Besides being used for packaging and conveyance, burlap merchandises are used for building intents in some countries and production of trade goods such as rugs and carpets. They have besides been used in environmental redress – pokes of them are used as a inundation barrier in instance of inundation ; and are filled with sand and used as substrate to cover grasses to halt dirt of hilly and steep parts from eroding.

Historically, trading in gunny merchandises is a recent phenomenon, about a hundred to two hundred old ages old. Originally, gunny merchandises were exchanged in signifier of swap, or husbandmans sewed their ain bags, or merchandisers merely threw them in with a trade. During the colonial epoch, the coming of better engineering in this sector made trade in burlap bags possible – better run uping engineering enabled fabrication of burlap merchandises on a big graduated table – in 1855, India got its first jute factory and jute exports rapidly became one of India ‘s most of import. Mentions to well-established trade and market for jute merchandises go back every bit early as 1913 in an article in the New York Times when the US, at the clip the biggest client of the merchandise, was sing altering its tariff statute law on jute imports from India. The article states that at the clip, jute exports were the monopoly of the State of Bengal, and that “ there are 38 Millss which produce jute merchandises and their capital runs into many 1000000s of dollars. The sowing of harvests Begins in March, and the harvests come in by the terminal of Augustaˆ¦The district in Bengal that was given over to jute ( production ) last twelvemonth was 3000,000 estates. This twelvemonth the land area increased 6 percentaˆ¦The mean production last twelvemonth was 2000,000 dozenss, and the mean monetary value per ton is $ 140aˆ¦ ” ( Tariff Talk Hurt Hessians of India 1913 )[ 1 ]However, the net incomes chiefly went to the authorities and a few business communities and husbandmans, and did n’t to the full make the people who were involved in the cultivation of jute or the production of jute merchandises at the grass root degree.

At present, India supplies around 9/10 of exports to the universe ( Ramya 2012 ) and approximately 7 per centum of the industrial population finds employment in the jute industry, and it is a important portion of our economic system. Applications of high quality jute have diversified vastly, but the monetary values for jute merchandises have gone up every bit compared to man-made stuffs now available, and both international and domestic demands have been falling ( India ‘s exports of jute merchandises fell by 66 % in the twelvemonth 2008-2009 ) . Large scale domestic trading focuses chiefly on two sorts of jute – Hessian fabric and plundering fabric ( both of which slackly come under the class of gunny merchandises ) , by and large used for the intents mentioned above, since this is the biggest class consumed in domestic markets and this ingestion accounts for 60 % of entire end product. Furthermore, the jute industry itself is localized – there are presently 77 jute Millss in India, 60 of which are in West Bengal and 7 in Andhra Pradesh. ( Singh n.d. ) Trading in other topographic points, such as Bangalore, is hence chiefly focused on run intoing local demand for gunny merchandises.


We started our interview with the Bangalore Gunny Merchants Association by understanding how the trade and association began. The members shared that full graduated table trading in gunny merchandises did n’t be in Bangalore around 60-70 old ages ago, and that this is hence a comparatively immature trading community. The original burlap merchandisers, who established this trade here in its current signifier, were from Tamil Nadu who settled and opened store in Bangalore around that clip. The members recalled that at the clip, there was really high local demand for gunny merchandises, particularly gunny bags, because of addition in production and trade related to agribusiness, and about 25 % of these original bargainers managed to do large money and do concern on a big graduated table, while the others could non capitalise on it and remained little graduated table and hapless.

The Bangalore Gunny Merchant Association ( BGMA ) was founded 35 old ages ago in 1973 by Sri V.K Krishnah Shetty and 12 other friends who shared a common apprehension and had expanded into big scale trading of gunny merchandises. Although apparently the BGMA was founded to back up and advance the burlap industry and assist the bargainers with jobs they may be confronting, the existent accelerator for the formation of the BGMA was labour unrest. At the clip, there was lifting unrest in the labour force engaged in the trade with labourers demanding better status and farther benefits and susurrations of unionisation winging about. In order to control this tendency, the freshly formed BGMA accepted some of the labourer ‘s demands but made it clear that the issues and jobs of the labour force should be routed through the BGMA. Harmonizing to the official construction and guidelines of the association, rank was unfastened to all members of the trade, those who paid income revenue enhancement and those who did n’t, but in actuality, entry to the association was restricted to those who were ‘seasoned ‘ – who had concluded a certain figure of minutess of a certain turnover.

This platform enabled choice bargainers to come together, discourse the best ways to entree fundss, moneymaking stamps and other contracts, pool resources, negotiate bureaucratic ruddy tape, portion information and entree aid from other members of the association, therefore constructing more intensive partnerships. It further gave them a mechanism to air grudges and decide fiscal and other differences internally while supplying purchase as they dealt with external entities such as authorities, other establishments and service suppliers. Members portion that it is these same qualities, coupled with an built-in involuntariness to prosecute with external establishments ( which was evident in many of their replies, and will be explored subsequently ) in the trading community that helped the BGMA grow.

The members did n’t believe that there were any turning points for the BGMA as such, indicating out alternatively that ups and downs were a portion of any concern, and that they try to run into challenges as they come. One incident that stood out, nevertheless, helped crystallise and clear up the BGMA ‘s function vis-a-vis the authorities. The authorities had revoked a revenue enhancement freedom that was antecedently extended to gunny bargainers, and the bargainers were expected to pay arrears up to one hundred thousand. The BGMA appealed against the policy with local governments and were denied their petition to convey back the freedom. Following this, the BGMA appealed straight to the province Chamber of Commerce and successfully lobbied to convey back the revenue enhancement freedom. This was a large accomplishment, and changed the manner the BMGA saw itself vis-a-vis the authorities. The members shared that there have been other challenges in the past and there are some challenges even today – prospective statute law in Kolkatta sing the jute industry besides threatens to impact them as the market in Bangalore depends upon the market in Kolkatta and Bangladesh – but they feel they are efficaciously using the lessons learned during this incident in their current battle with the authorities, such as the entreaty they are presently outlining against the province ‘s new environmental and pollution ordinance guidelines that they feel are damaging to them.

The feeling of a strongly knit community with shared involvements was apparent in the members being interviewed. Although it is the individual representative establishment in the trading community, the association has non witnessed any split throughout its journey and does n’t hold any other braches ; and although every province has its ain association of burlap merchandisers, these associations are non linked to each other in a structured or traditional partnerships – instead, they connect with each other merely at the degree of the Chamber of Commerce. No peculiar caste or spiritual community dominates the trade, and members portion that the burlap trade has been unfastened to people from a mix of castes and faiths. There look to be no strong traditional relationship between burlap trade and peculiar communities here, and one of the grounds could be that it is a comparatively immature trade in the country, and that boulder clay late, burlap related work was done in most families related to agribusiness, with limited infinite for laterality of any caste or spiritual community. This was confirmed by non-BGMA attached bargainers we interviewed who besides felt that there was no evident laterality of any caste or spiritual group.[ 2 ]The members, nevertheless, did joint a categorization in concerns based on volume. They shared that although there are presently many bargainers, the burlap concern is deceasing. Merely 20 % of bargainers are good off and trade in majority, while the other 80 % are really hapless and consists largely of little graduated table concerns. When asked more about the big figure of bargainers and the obstructions they face, many members shared that they feel these 80 % are besides nescient and do non understand how concerted societies work, despite their efforts to educate them – these attempts, members feel, have non given satisfactory consequences.


From its origin in 1973, the Bangalore Gunny Merchants Association has now grown into an association of over 200 members, with an mean rate of merely five members per twelvemonth. As it has evolved, so has, unconsciously, its function in keeping the position quo of exclusion and inclusion in more intensive ways.

The first point to observe is that entry to the Association is still restricted and purely guarded. Although the Association guidelines say that rank is unfastened to all bargainers of gunny points, in pattern entry is restricted to members who are ‘experienced ‘ : experience here refers to the figure and graduated table of concern minutess that a bargainer has successfully engaged in, and this norm is quantified by the Working Committee on a instance by instance footing. The Working Committee members shared that the newest members to the association were inducted two old ages ago, and they are presently non entertaining applications. The members talked about how merely late, two bargainers were refused rank even though they were offering Rs. 15,000 each for their admittance ( the cost of using to A-class rank presently is Rs. 25 ) . The Working Committee members shared that this is because they can merely give rank to people that they can swear. First and first, since a batch of money is loaned to members on a regular basis, the trust that a member will pay back the money is critical. Second, the members told us that they take few members because the Association members have entree to a ‘rate card ‘ on which authorities stamps are based – the rate card is a list to which the citations for a stamp issued by the authorities are compared to find which 1 is the lowest. This rate card is merely shared with bargainers who are considered eligible to go members, and without a uncertainty, makes it much easier for people who have entree to it to sew their citations to the rate card and unafraid authorities stamps. Therefore, alternatively of furthering healthy and unfastened competition in the concern community, the Association presently maintains a closed and oligopoly-based competition.

Furthermore, the three primary responsibilities of the Association are to ease entree to capital in order for members to procure stamps and other contracts ; decide disputes originating between bargainers, bargainers and labour, and bargainers and service suppliers such as truck drivers ; and stand for the community in forepart of the authorities in affairs that need buttonholing or communicating. This reflects concentration of a batch of power in one organic structure, which becomes evident when we examine the manner their power is operationalized and these responsibilities carried out.

The biggest factor in their growing, by far, acknowledged the Working Committee members, is that the Association provides easy entree to capital in order for members to procure stamps and other contracts. The on the job Committee members did non hold high respect for external and authorities beginnings of funding – they felt that even the few beginnings of support that are there are untrusty, and accessing them is long, drawn out procedure. With other concerted societies, one has to lodge a certain amount of money before one can acquire it back, and this procedure was besides felt to be boring. With Bankss and other authorities beginnings that may finance their command for stamps and other contract, the members felt that by the clip they cut through the ruddy tape involved in these processs, the stamps and contracts are already gone. That external beginnings can non be trusted is apparent in the members ‘ responses – “ We do n’t swear these beginnings at all, and we do n’t necessitate any external individual ‘s aid – we arrange our ain fundss. ” The members meet on 5th of every month – in these meetings, they discuss upcoming stamps and decide who will set about it ; if the stamp is more than 50 hundred thousand, the members decide who will set about it and pool in jointly to make full the citation command. The Association besides gives loans to its members, with a one-month payment continuance clip. This easy, hassle free entree to capital when the bargainer needs it is a life line in this concern, and one of the chief avenues through which the Association has centered power within itself.

The 2nd sphere of action for the Association is settling differences between bargainers, bargainers and labour, and bargainers and other external service suppliers. The Association considers itself the last line of mediation within the community, and in world, about every difference the Association members are involved in comes to the Association for mediation, the bulk of which it helps to decide. The differences are chiefly sing non-payment of loans to the Association and association members ; difference between labourer and bargainer sing wage or maltreatment ; and bargainers and service suppliers. But to be able to spot how effectual the Association truly is in difference mediation, we focused more on instances where the Association ‘s authorization to intercede struggles is non recognized, or where it has had to safeguard itself against that possibility. When it comes to friction with bargainers in instances of non-payment or settling differences, the Association follows an exclusionary policy. In the first instance, non-payment of loans by a bargainer to the Association or association members, mediation is resorted to, and some kind of payment construction is worked out which is more compatible with both parties. In instance people ca n’t pay, and do non desire to prosecute in mediation, they are expelled from the association and their sureties are responsible. Furthermore, the Working Committee members shared that when bargainers do non esteem the authorization of the Association, which includes non-compliance or non-cooperation with the mediation procedure ( such as non coming to the Association office when 1 is called ) , a procedure of societal boycott follows which is non unlike the “ hukka paani ” system in rural India, where the individual in rebelliousness of norms is boycotted socially. Once done, labourers do non work for him and other association members avoid him.

There are other schemes to incorporate clash with labourers, although this is non as controlled by BGMA as their action with members. As we recall, the Association came together in response to the labourers uniting and demanding benefits and better working status. The association has countered this menace of a strong labour brotherhood by positioning itself as a go-between for labour issues. To some extent, it has worked – the labourers we interviewed informed us that their clip of work is a fixed 8 hours, and that the merchandiser has to assist out in instances there is a nuptials or funeral at the place of laborer – the sum the former has to give is besides fixed. In instances of struggle with members, labourers can near BGMA for mediation. If they do non desire to travel in for mediation, they are free to go forth the merchandiser ‘s employ ; nevertheless, they ca n’t work for other bargainers who are members of BGMA.

This control is most challenged in the instance of peripheral entities, such as service suppliers like teamsters. If there is a struggle between a member and a service supplier, and the latter is non captive on mediation through BGMA, there is merely a list of BGMA approved service suppliers members can entree.

Third, although the BGMA has done admirable work in stand foring certain involvements of the trading community vis-a-vis the authorities, they show no involvement in authorising the community with respect to their rights, options, and schemes available to them in these quickly altering market conditions. In response to the inquiry, ‘what does development intend to your concern community ” , the members responded that development for them would be better engineering in fabrication, higher borders of net income and increased gross revenues and creative activity of a happy concern environment. However, their efforts to make bargainers outside the BGMA, or even to construct capacities of BGMA members further, to make these aims have been unequal. Possibly pulling from the sentiment echoed by some members earlier when they said that the poorer 80 % of bargainers are nescient and have resisted BGMA ‘s efforts to ‘educate ‘ them, the latter runs no concern accomplishment development plans for members and non-members.[ 3 ]In fact, efforts to run such plans for burlap bargainers through BGMA by authorities bureaus, Bankss and other concerted societies have besides been shot down by the latter. At many times this replies were underlined by, at best, contempt, and at worst, deep misgiving, of these external bureaus. A member remarked, and was echoed by others, that “ We do n’t desire anything from the authorities! We ‘ve been asked to take guidance from authorities bureaus, Bankss and concerted societies on how we can work better, how we can be better at funding, etc. but we do n’t make it because it ‘s a waste of clip. We do n’t normally near these bureaus, reding bureaus approach us. We have even got a batch of awards from the authorities, but we do n’t hold clip to roll up them. We besides do n’t desire any media coverage or attending. ”

This is confirmed by our interviews with non-affiliated bargainers. When asked about how BGMA furthered the involvements of their concern, the common response was the BGMA was non interested in their status, and did non stand for their involvements to the authorities decently. Similarly, when we asked members about how they keep updated on developments related to concern and trade, the response was that since BGMA was the lone association in the field, bureaus normally spoke to them ; apart from that, they did non see an pressing demand to maintain updated about developments in the field, since this is a reasonably straightforward concern.

But possibly where this tendency was strongest was when we spoke about the challenges confronting the burlap trade. The members spoke articulately and passionately about how changing forms of production and ingestion have drastically lowered the demand for gunny merchandises. Harmonizing to them, the burlap bag industry has about been wiped out and wholly replaced by increasing competition from plastic[ 4 ], and will be finished wholly in the following two or three old ages. Even though plastic can non be used for heavy packaging, it is much cheaper than burlap bags. A member remarked, “ Both the market and market places have been shriveling.[ 5 ]For us, our stock has a shelf life of 4 to 5 old ages after which it gets wiped out by gnawers, so we have to maintain replacing our stock. We merely see high demand now in the rainy season. ” They explained to us how earlier, husbandmans, tradesmans and households used to sell and buy large measures of goods, for which burlap bags were needed. However, with the rise of promenades and the atomic household, companies offer smaller measures of goods packaged in plastic, because of which burlap bag usage is worsening fast. Furthermore, they stated, kids are non allowed to work in this industry now which is harming it a batch. If kids were allowed to work, costs would be less ; they would besides larn this accomplishment sooner and so take it to the following degree alternatively of traveling off from it because they see no hereafter in it. There was, intelligibly, a batch of apprehensiveness sing the gait and nature of economic reforms and its consequence on the burlap trade.

These positions are echoed by non-affiliate members, who express their trade in footings such as “ devastated ” and holding “ no hereafter. ” The lone option for growing that both member and non-members see is diversifying into the fictile trade ( most members of Working Committee we spoke to hold diversified into other packaging as good ) , and they both agree that the authorities can assist this state of affairs by educating people about the sick effects of plastic and declaring fictile free zones. This downswing is besides impacting smaller concern ( around 80 % of the community ) much harder than bigger concerns, who manage to surge over the ad times. When we asked the association, nevertheless, about their schemes of undertaking these desperate challenges confronting the trading community, they replied that “ we are non concentrating on any programs or schemes as such – we are merely here to intercede. ” Similarly, when asked about programs to spread out their concern, they replied, “ there are no programs for this. Equally long as the current ( we assume profitable ) degree of supply and demand stopping points, its mulct. ”


The BGMA is, structurally, an illustration of rational authorization. It has a democratically elected, hierarchal construction ( composed of the president, frailty president, secretary, financial officer and members of the Working Committee chosen by elections from the general organic structure of the association every two old ages ) , stated aims[ 6 ], and a set of statute Torahs and norms directing its actions. However, in world, much of this operates on traditional constellations of power in social/economic relationships. Entry to the association, although structurally wholly ‘secular ‘ ( in the sense of rational ) and unfastened to all, is governed by clearly subjective impressions of ‘experience ‘ and ‘trust ‘ , and so becomes inclusive merely to a certain type of applier.

This is besides apparent in the manner members of BGMA see themselves and their functions. Although the guidebook has a list of aims listed down for the BGMA, the members choose to concentrate merely on their function as go-betweens vis-a-vis three critical facets: easy entree to capital, a drum sander mechanism for declaration of struggles, and stand foring their involvements to the authorities. While these facets are surely critical demands of the hr, the impudent side is that this selective attending consequences in a concentration of power and influence in the custodies of the association ; a state of affairs that is exacerbated by three extra factors – the usage of coercive schemes to keep its influence ; the presence of sentiments such as ‘we ‘ve tried but the other is excessively nescient to larn ‘ ; and ( by restricting their credence of new members and concentrating their activities entirely on bing members ) the inactivity about doing their thought of development and growing inclusive of the remainder of the non-affiliate bargainers in the community. It pulls our attending to the power of narrations – how, the classs of idea and cognition shaped the possibility of our actions ; although BGMA, by all purposes and intents of its members, exists chiefly to back up the trading community and advance an ambiance of good will, it however plays a important function in continuing those divides that are keeping the community back.



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