By Ishita Misra
India’s textile sector is one of the biggest industries in the country and a significant contributor to India’s economic development. This sector contributes almost 4 percent to India’s GDP and is responsible for approximately 15 percent of total exports. It is also one of the largest employers. The sector employs 51 million people directly and 68 million indirectly. However, the textile sector has not yet reached its potential and is expected to grow from the current figure of 120 billion USD to 230 billion USD by 2020.
In an attempt to tap into the potential of the sector, an international trade event in the textile sector — Textiles India 2017 — was held in Gandhinagar. After the major success of the event, the government has set up a task force, inter-ministerial synergy group and steering committee as institutional mechanisms to support the growth of the textile sector.
The success of Textile India 2017
Textile India 2017 turned out to be one of the biggest international trade event related the textile sector of the country and was extremely successful. The event hosted numerous roundtable and international conferences which saw the participation of eminent personalities from the business front, academia and policy makers.
The participants deliberated on the potential of the sector and its opportunities for growth. It also gave the government recommendations on how to boost the textile sector. In accordance with the recommendations, the Ministry of Textiles has set up institutional mechanisms that involve the textile industry partners, state governments, and relevant ministries in an effort to synergise their efforts.
The institutional mechanisms in place
The textile sector is extremely varied with the spectrum ranging from small scale hand-woven textiles to mills producing textiles on a large scale. The textile sector is also closely linked to the agriculture sector due to the raw materials it provides. To ensure smooth functioning of such a varied sector, the Knowledge Network Management System (KNMS) has been proposed to facilitate the exchange of knowledge amongst the industries, farming community and academia on the productivity of natural fibres and the diversification of their by-products. The products that would be covered by the KMNS include jute, silk, wool, and cotton. A Steering Committee, under the chairmanship of the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, will be responsible to oversee implementation of the KMNS.
To enhance growth and competitiveness of the Man-Made Fibre (MMF) industry, an Inter-Ministerial Synergy Group on Man-Made Fibre has been set up. The Group, under the chairmanship of the Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, will be responsible for formulating policy interventions. Lastly, a Task Force on Textiles India has been set up and is chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Textiles. The Task Force will manage the follow- up action on the different outcomes of Textile India 2017 to ensure the growth of the sector.
Textile India 2017: The tale of the local weavers
The handloom industry of India has been suffering due to the poverty faced by the local weavers that result in weavers abandoning their craft for a more rewarding livelihood. The poverty is a result of high competition from power looms and lack of avenues which the local weavers can use to sell their products. Textile India 2017 was one such avenue that gave local weavers the opportunity to enhance their visibility to interested manufacturers. With 40 lakh local weavers as a part of the textile industry, policies promoting these local weavers could also lead to significant growth of the sector.
One way to promote the local weavers is through the Indian Handloom Brand (IHB). The weavers just need to register under the India Handloom Brand to get an IBH tag. The tag is a hallmark of quality and contains details of their background, contacts, and creations in a completely transparent exchange.
However, the local textile exports are facing increasing competition from Bangladesh and Vietnam. This is mainly due to the robust government policies in support of the local textile industries in these countries. In order to further support the local weavers, the government needs to revise its policies and take actions to increase domestic and international demand.
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