At the Bombay jewelry bazaar, Kavita Jogani carefully places her wedding bracelets on the seller’s scales, as thousands of Indians must sell their most precious commodity: gold.
It was not an easy decision. Jogani was desperate after her clothing business collapsed in the past year and a half due to coronavirus closures, which made it difficult for her to pay store bills and the salaries of her 15 employees.
The numbers suggest that Asia’s third-largest economy is recovering from the pandemic crisis, but financial hardships persist for many Indians.
“I have no choice but to sell the gold,” Jogani admitted as he nervously awaited the offer from the owner of the establishment.
“I bought these bracelets before my wedding 23 years ago,” the 45-year-old woman told AFP.
Business closures and job losses pushed more than 230 million Indians into poverty in the past year, according to a study by Azim Premji University, leaving many struggling to pay rent and cover their health and education expenses.
Everything was aggravated in recent weeks with increases in electricity, fuel and other goods.
Desperate for money, many families and small businesses have offered their gold as collateral for short-term loans.
The banks granted “loans against gold jewelry” for the equivalent of 64,000 million dollars in the first eight months of 2021, 74% more than the same period of the previous year, according to the Central Bank.
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