India is one of the world’s biggest leather producers, but the country’s tanneries are struggling due to a lack of hides. A government-led crackdown on the slaughter of cows, which are considered sacred in some parts of the country, has caused the industry hardship.
According to people on the ground, India has never seen a shortage like this, not since the tanneries were built over 100 years ago. With the tanneries in Kanpur still shut, machinery worth hundreds of thousands of pounds is lying dormant and even rotting, in the case of the huge wooden drums used in the tanning process.
The shut tanneries mean the industry has lost major customers in both Japan and the US. Workers laid off from the shut tanneries believe the failure to reopen them is political, stating that the industry is largely Muslim run and the Hindu nationalist government is holding them back.