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Remove the high customs duties on analog camera, films and equipment

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Respected Finance Minister,
Analog Photography has become a relic in India over the past decade. Analog films and cameras have dramatically decreased as opposed to their digital counterparts. Notwithstanding in India there is still a good number of devoted photographers and artists who practice Analog photography and there is a close-knit community of photographers, merchants, galleries, institutions and darkrooms who quietly practice the art of analog photography and keep it alive. It is these committed artists who continue to further the history, tradition and craft of analog photography in India.

Globally, Analog Photography is seeing a revival with enthusiasts coming together to save this declining art form. From creating beautiful pictures on this pure medium, to developing and printing them, Analog Photography is a highly specialized and intense effort for the proponents of this form of photography. The community is very closely bound and is doing everything it can to avoid letting this amazing art form from sliding into obscurity.

While there are many who would love to join hands and save Analog Photography, it is availability of cameras, films and materials needed to convert the films to real pictures is what hampers its development and indeed is furthering its decline. While there is no real production of Films, Chemicals or Analog Cameras and Equipment in India, the only way for this art to stay alive is by importing what the proponents need from countries in European Union and USA. But Customs Duty, even though it is admittedly the same as other classes, increases the cost and pushes people away from Analog to Digital. At the last count, we know of the duties to be as under:

1. 10% Basic Duty
2. 10% Countervailing Duty
3. 3% Central Excise
4. 3% Customs Education Cess
5. 4% Special CVD

All this together, adds upto around 27.12% of the CIF Value of Import for individual importer. Further, there are issues that some of the artists have faced with the following:

1. That 2nd Hand Cameras and Equipment is not allowed to be imported is given as a reason for stoppage of shipment
2. Valuation of 2nd Hand cameras and equipment gets taken at original value or its comparable to Digital Cameras and Equipment
3. Film Quantities of even as low as 200 Film Rolls (usually enough for 2 months of project work for a serious art photographer) gets stopped as commercial quantity

Considering the relatively small size of this community, the percentage of revenue that the Government would lose by removing these Customs Duties on analog films and camera equipment would be negligible. At the same time it would result in an immeasurable gain of goodwill, not only of the Indian Analog Art community, enthusiasts and art educators, but also of the artists’ families, friends, students and associates.

This petition is therefore about formally requesting the Minister of Finance, Government of India to consider removal or significant reduction in the Customs Duties on a wide range of analog films and camera equipment used to create indigenous Indian Art works. This small step in the favour of analog photography practicing artists will enable them to import their art and equipment supplies in good prices and time and will profoundly benefit the beleaguered photography art community. In addition this shall make a significant statement in favour of the present Government who supports the creation and preservation of nation's art and culture.

We humbly request the Honorable Minister to take this into consideration and remove the high customs duties on analog films and camera equipment.

On behalf of the entire art community we thank you in anticipation for considering and supporting our request.

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