Succesive droughts dampen Deepavali spirit

UNLIKE IN urban centres, Deepavali this time was not at its best in rural areas of the State. Deepavali, which is considered one of the most important festivals, has lost a bit of its sparkle in the recent past.

While it is a celebration for a few, a majority seem to be observing the festival just for the sake of it.

The farmers in rural areas are not even in a position to do that.

Belgaum's economy is basically agrarian. If the rural economy is affected, it will have a direct bearing on the urban markets is what the traders here say.

The textile and garment sector, tailors, sweet stall owners, and footwear shop owners look forward to this season of the year, but unlike last year, business has been poor this time.

Even though there has been "some good" business in the past five days, it has not been on the scale that was witnessed in the preceding year when the business was good for almost a month from Dasara to Deepavali. This season, despite heavy discounts ranging between 10 per cent and 50 per cent, many shops in the busy Khadebazaar, Maruti Galli, Kirloskar Road, Tilakwadi, and College Road could not do the expected business.

People of Belgaum are known to celebrate festivals on a grand scale, but the bursting of crackers was limited this time.

People did not want to burn their hard earned money.

Three successive years of drought has hit the people hard, and this had a bearing on shopping too.

It is only for some sections of society such as the salaried class, government officials, and big businessmen that Deepavali has been a time for celebration.

"If the farmer is happy, we are happy," says a small trader and adds that that the urban economy cannot flourish if the rural economy is in distress.

By Vijaykumar Patil in Belgaum

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