Contribution of Beedi Industry in the Economic Development of Madhya Pradesh

By Sen, Vinod; Patel, Manish Kumar | Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences, June 2014 | Go to article overview

Contribution of Beedi Industry in the Economic Development of Madhya Pradesh


Sen, Vinod, Patel, Manish Kumar, Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences


Introduction

Beedi rolling is one of the major unorganised sector activities in India, which employs a large number of women and children. The Government of India estimates that there are about 50.53 million workers in this industry and 44,49,352 identity cards have been issued to beedi workers. (GoI, 2007). Of these, the majority are home-based female workers who live below the poverty line. Only about 10 per cent of beedies are made in regular factories. Beedi workers constitute one of the most vulnerable sections of the country's workforce. Spread over several states of India, their number has been increasing ever since the beginning of the practice of beedi smoking.

India is the third largest producer and the eighth largest exporter of tobacco and its product in the world respectively. While India's share in the world's area under tobacco crop has risen from 9 per cent to 11 per cent in the last three decades, its share in production has inched up from 8 per cent to 9 per cent in tobacco industry. China, USA and India are the three leading tobacco-producing nations in the world. Tobacco is consumed in two ways, either by smoking or chewing. While smoking the following tobacco products are consumed: cigarette, cigar, beedi (hand rolled, leaf wrapped country cigarettes). Chewable tobacco products are: raw tobacco, supari (arecanut), gutkha, etc. Beedi manufacturing is the largest tobacco industry in India. In 1998, a total of 858 billion beedies were sold in India and sales are reaching to 1031 billion beedies in 2007 (Country Case Reports: India 1998).

The main objective of this research paper is to bring out some facts about home-based beedi industry of Madhya Pradesh and its contribution to the economic development of Madhya Pradesh. This study is based on the secondary data. The data collected mainly in the form of official and un-official statistics and documents. These sources include Inquiry Reports, Various Acts, Annual Reports of Unions, Census Publications, Books, Parliamentary Proceedings, Journals, Internet, ILO Reports on beedi industry and workers and District Handbook of India.

A Brief History of Beedi Industry

There is no clear evidence as to when the beedi rolling industry began to operate in India, though, production and consumption of tobacco began in India in the 17th century, and it was probably introduced by the Europeans, either by the British or by the Portuguese. It is believed that the native land of tobacco was South America. Columbus discovered America and tobacco in November 1492. One of the peripatetic teams that visited South America and India introduced tobacco into India in the year 1508.

The beedi manufacturing industry is one of the oldest industries in India. The first account of beedi is found about in 16th century in India. The Bombay Gazette of 1897 provides the first official note about it. It mentions that the inhabitants of Kheda and Panchmahal districts of Gujarat used to consume tobacco with astra leaves in the form of beedi. M/ s Haribhai Desai is the first company registered with its brand name and trademark in 1901 in Bombay (Report, NCL, 2002). According to another estimate, the cultivation of tobacco began in Andhra Pradesh during the reign of Krishna Dev Rai (Chouhan, 2001).

Employment in Beedi Industry

Madhya Pradesh has the largest concentration of beedi workers in India. In fact, beedi industry is considered as one of the major industries of this state. Madhya Pradesh is also the major producer of tendu leaf. Today, the beedi industry has come to occupy a very important position in the overall industrial spectrum of the country by providing employment to a large number of people. The industry is employing more than six million workers in its two activities, i.e., in tendu leave collection and beedi rolling stages alone. Beedi rolling itself engages more than four million workers. Statewise estimate of beedi workers shows that the largest number of workers is concentrated in Madhya Pradesh (17. …

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