UP: Vinegar binds Shuklas & Yadavs of Harraiya constituency of Basti, bridges caste divide | Lucknow News

BASTI: On the way to eastern Uttar Pradesh, shortly after crossing the Saryu, you come across a chain of shops on the Basti-Gorakhpur trunk road. What had started as a barter system between distant relatives (called pattidars) changed the contours of the Harraiya assembly constituency in the Basti district.
50 to 60 shops over 10 km long sell sirka (vinegar). A Shukla family had begun fermenting surplus sugar cane juice from their pattidars into sirka. The difference was in how Sabha Pati Shukla and his wife Shakuntala prepared their version. After fermenting cane juice for six months, they tempered it with mustard oil, garlic, cumin seeds, red chillies, coriander seeds and some secret spices and prepared masaledar sirka (spicy vinegar). Demand for their vinegar started growing locally, after which they decided to make a business out of it. From a single store set up by the couple in their village of Macha in the late 1990s, the region has gradually transformed into a sirka-making hub.
Apart from sirka, the people of Macha, Keshawpur and Khatam Sarai villages branched out and started making pickles, jaggery, ghee and other cottage industry products.
Over the years, more and more family members and relatives joined them and opened their own stores.
“Even the Upadhyay, Tripathi and Mishra families joined the business, but everyone called their shop Shukla Ji Sirka when our brand was established,” said Shree Prakash Shukla, 23, the couple’s youngest son who runs now the business with his four brothers.
The Shuklas registered their brand last year to stand out among the clutter and started accepting digital payments after travelers on the highway that connects Lucknow to Gopalganj via Ayodhya, Basti, Gorakhpur, often failed to cash and insisted on paying digitally. “We got GST registration under Samadhan Yojana,” added elder brother Ve d Prakash Shukla. Under Samadhan Yo jana, businessmen with an annual turnover of less than Rs 1.5 crore can pay fixed rate taxes.
The business kept growing and other villagers also joined. EvenYadavs has branched out into the cottage industry and offers dairy products in addition to vinegar.
Ram Lal Yadav and his brother Manoj recently opened a shop after buying a crusher and launched their products at competitive prices. A liter of spicy sirka is priced at Rs 100. “We all respect the Shukla family because they are the ones who have empowered people in 15 to 20 villages,” Yadav said.
Asked about political trends in the region, he replied: “It doesn’t matter who comes to power. We want government support to grow the business and expand its reach to other states. Our samples are regularly subjected to quality checks by local authorities and pass the test. According to the MSME department, 2.5% of the population of the Basti district is associated with the vinegar trade.
The Harraiya assembly constituency will go to the polls in the sixth phase on March 3. Shree Prakash Shukla and Ram Yadav, who are in their early twenties, said they only want better prospects for their business. “Unlike in general elections, in assembly elections, we also give weight to candidates, because we want the support of our local representative. We demand inclusion in the national organic program and quality certificates,” Yadav said. Both Yadav and Shukla have the same piques and complain about the high prices of mustard oil, a key ingredient, diesel and the raw material they source from farmers.
Incumbent BJP MP for Harraiya Ajay Kumar Singh said, “Woodcrafts and vinegar made in Basti district have been included in the ODOP list. We will provide all the support and establish a vision plan for them. “In the 2017 polls, Ajay Kumar Singh had beaten Rajkishor Singh of the Samajwadi Party by 30,106 votes. The two parties have not yet announced their candidates for the next contest.

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