Thursday , April 2 2020
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None compensates the BD poor for the rawhide market collapse

None compensates the BD poor for the rawhide market collapse

The rawhide and skin merchants have started selling their merchandise – hide collected during the Eid-ul-Adha festival – after mediation by the apex business chamber FBCCI. Before the meeting with the FBCCI and the tanners, organised by the Ministry of Commerce, the merchants said they were prepared to export rawhide but did not have the papers like licences to do so. Tanners vehemently opposed the idea of exporting wet blue leader on the plea that this would hamper the country’s fledging leader industry which is one of the leading foreign exchange earning sectors of Bangladesh.
The friction between the two groups was due to non-payment arrear dues by the tanners who complained of running short of cash and were also not purchasing rawhide from merchants on the Eid Day. The merchants also remained unmoved on their bargain. The result was the collapse of the rawhide market on the Eid day.
Poor seasonal traders who purchased rawhide on the basis of the rate fixed by the ministry a week ahead of the Eid found themselves at the losing end and stopped purchasing hides and skins in the middle of the day. Devotees who bargained for a higher price of the hides and skins in the morning found themselves caught in an awkward situation as there was none to purchase the hides later in the day. Madrasahs and orphanages which rely for a significant portion of their annual income on rawhide donations or partial share on their sale proceeds also stopped collecting those as they came to know that none was purchasing rawhide because they did not have an arrangement for preserving rawhide by applying salt in adequate quantities.
More than half of the cattle slaughtered in Bangladesh every year is sacrificed during Eid-ul-Adha. During this Eid an estimated 125 million cattle have been sacrificed, says a government estimate. The scandalous unforeseen development at the hides and skin market left people with no alternative but either to reach hides to nearby madrasahs which were also unwilling to take those. Some others dumped hides and skins under the ground to protect from foul-smell of rotten hides and skin. But the heart-rending info behind all these twist and turns was deprivation of the poor, orphans or madrasah students or members of poor families who always got shares of the sale proceeds of the hides and skins as gifts. Those who sacrificed animals have the agony that they failed to make this gift to the poor.
Muslims who sacrifice animals are bound by their religious rules to donate one-third of the meat to the poor, share another one-third with their relatives and have the right to retain the remaining one third for consumption. The poor are considered to have full right on the sale proceeds of rawhides and skins.
The market collapse caused by manipulations of merchants or friction between rawhide merchants and tanners has served a strong blow to the poor, the madrasahs and orphanages as they have been deprived of a regular annual income. But they cannot make a hue and cry because there is no instrument to enforce their right on the income mentioned above. And the distribution of the hides and skins sale proceeds is also dependent on the choices of their owners. So the deprived poor people can sue neither those who sacrificed animals nor the market manipulators who shrunk their share of the annual gift from rich people.
The dumped rawhides were no personal losses to the devotees because they would have either way donated those to the poor. The net loser is, apart from the poor people, the nation. Because more hides and skin would have to be imported to feed the leader industry which has in recent years emerged as a competitor to traditional leader goods exporters and is accounting for about 13 percent of Bangladesh’s export earnings.
A reported tweet from Microsoft owner Bill Gates @BillGates relevant here is as follows:
‘I don’t want any tweet hating on the Muslims for slaughtering animals, about one million animals killed each day by KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King etc too feed the rich & making hella money out of it. During Eid, Muslims sacrifice them to feed the poor for free, and y’all lose ur mind.’
The veracity of the tweet has not been checked but it has reflected an unambiguous truth about Muslim societies. On Eid Day, one would find beef cooked at every Muslim household in Bangladesh. In cities, poor people who get a lot of meat as a gift, sell a part of it in makeshift markets, because they do not have facilities to preserve those for consumption over a long period of time.
The hides and skins market collapse in Bangladesh reminds one of the share market collapses in the last quarter of 2010. After the share market scam, the matter came for gossip at an Indian Republic Day reception held at a posh hotel in Dhaka City. At one corner of the reception, a man identifying himself as an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was told with an air of contentment that this time the money had not been siphoned abroad. ‘All the money remains within Bangladesh’, he said. The man, however, was unlucky. Among the listeners was none else a man than Mujahidul Islam Selim, President of the Communist Party of Bangladesh. Mujahidul Islam Selim asked, ‘How you explain the poor men’s money that has moved into the pocket of the rich men.’ The SEC man was taken aback. However, in no time there emerged the owner of a big group of industries having large stakes on the share market. He joined the gossip to assert that people with no knowledge of the share market invested money blindly and suffered as a result. The transactions were made on the basis of demand and supply. How one can blame those who have profited from the transactions, he asked. Mujahidul Islam Selim became a bit louder this time and repeated, ‘How you explain the gain of the rich shareholders at the expense of the poor ones? Who will compensate for the money they have lost and become paupers?’
The gossip ended there. In the case of the hides and skins market collapse, the losers are not organized to make a claim for the loss they have been subjected to. This is a once in a year transaction, and they are on their own as usual. They are back to work to earn and feed them, instead of waiting for shares of embezzled money, bank loan scams, or booties of shady deals. But the confidence deficit a section of the rich people has created in their minds will be difficult to erase in the foreseeable future.
– Mostafa Kamal Majumder