Moradabad, situated on banks of the Ramganga river, is known for its brass handicraft across the world. The city, was established in 1625 A.D. by Rustam Khan and named after Prince Murad Baksh- the son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Brass industry is believed to have originated from here only to be spread across the country later. Brass objects are made either by sand casting, moulding or sheet metal forming process and various levels of production are handled by specialized craftsmen.
Architect of Moradabad brass handcraft still earn their bread and butter through creative crafting on brass. The intricate carving showcase the creative design, pattern and shape made up of brass.
Acclaimed as India’s brass city, Moradabad is biggest producer of country’s brass product. Art of brassware traces its roots of origin to Mughals. Some evidence suggests that it could be 3000 B.C. when India developed art of metallurgy. Later, in early 19th century, metal art spreads across Uttar Pradesh and made it hub of brassware products.
City’s beautiful brass products are exported across the globe such as the UK, Canada, the US, Germany, gulf countries and the Middle East.
But now, Moradabad’ craft beauty is gradually losing its shine. The industry is witnessing closure of workshops. The artisans are being left unemployed.
Earlier, every street in the city was decorated with brass products. But now, artisans are shifting towards other means to earn their bread like pulling rickshaws and selling Chinese items etc.
The main reason behind down fall of industry is sudden price rise of raw material like brass etc. Hike of around 40 to 60 per cent in brass scrap and increasing price of petro-products are hampering the margins of the manufacturers and exporters.
Second, people prefer steel products than brass now a days, which is available at much cheaper price compared to brass.
Third, the artisans are leaving this industry because of extremely low wages. They still get only Rs. 200-300 per day.
Upsurge of Chinese items is also playing a role.
Industry has seen downfall of 50 % in last some years. The total export turnover from this city was Rs. 3,200 crore in 2006-07, which came down drastically to Rs. 1,800 crore in 2011-12 and now it has come to 1500 crore. There are about 50 export houses operating in Moradabad which together register an annual turnover of more than Rs. 5 crore. The local unorganized sector includes more than 80,000 micro units operating at smaller level, working from home.
There are lots of challenges but there is no one who can seek innovative ideas and new ways for this industry. Administration is running away from its accountability. Industry needs basic frameworks to maintain the sectors growth. Industry insider says, “Artisans have shown their ability at national and international level. They can build this sector again if government focuses their problems and make some rehabilitation programme to revive this sector.”