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Will Deepavali offer a glimmer of hope for craftspeople?

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Amid the gloom of economic slowdown, traditional craftspeople and traders turn to the festival of lights for a ray of positivity

It’s nothing like the comfort of home-delivered, deep-discounted ‘deals you can’t refuse’ from online retailers. But it’s only offline, in the quintessential lure of the sights, sounds and aromas of markets bustling with people preparing to celebrate the festival of lights, that one sees the hope of better things to come.

As with all good things, it may be that anticipation is better than arrival here too. The festive season peaks around Deepavali, and traditionally holds the power to undo every wrong that may have afflicted the economy in the preceding months. It stirs up demand for everything ranging from electronics and automobiles to painting and carpentry services. The vagaries of the monsoon are usually tumultuous for India’s farmers and the informal economy, but the predictable spurt in demand at this time gives them some much-needed succour.

Spending, however, has been in fits and starts this year, whether on cars, consumer durables or apparel, and the fear is that spending will stay subdued even now, during the biggest festival of the year.

Those in the formal workforce have tightened their belts to brace themselves for the cascading effects of a slowing economy, lower bonuses, and greater job insecurity.

But for the large majority who work informally, outside the social security nets, Deepavali still remains a big source of hope, as they hand-craft colourful diyas, idols, textiles and more. But the hope flickers a little bit fainter this year, and comes without even the comfort of bubble wrap.

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