India has a long tradition of manufacturing leader and leatiier goods since Vedic times. Presently India is die third largest producer of leather in die world after Italy and the United States. The industry is spread over body in organised and unorganised sectors providing employment to over 2 million people.
The small scale, cottage and artisan sector account for over 75 per cent of the total production. The industry is die fourth foreign exchange earner through its exports. Exports from the leather sector today account for six per cent of India’s exports.
India has die largest cattie population in the world. The leather is obtained from the hides and skins of the fallen cattle, and slaughtered animals. The pelts of cattle and other large animals are called’hides’and those of small ones like sheep, goats, etc.’skins’. The country produces about 133 million sq. meters of hides and skins. Kolkata, Kanpur , Chennai and Coimbatore are important markets for hides. Good quality goat skins are obtained from Darjeeling, Kolkata, Muzzafarpur, Darbhanga and Erode. The skins of the peninsular region are superior in quality.
Tanning is a process to convert hides and skins into leather . Two types of tanning processes are in use. The first process, prevalent in die country since last two centuries, utilizes the barks of avaram (Cassia auriculata), konnam, acacia, myrobalans and wattle. It is called vegetable tanning. The second process is a wet blue process which uses chemicals like dichromate’s, chromium sulphate, and ammonium with fatty materials like egg-yolk, olive oil, gluten of flour and fish oil. It is a new process.