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BW Businessworld

Textiles: Desi Weaves

Textile Conclave 2017 held at Gandhinagar recently offers a slew of promises to the sector

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For Dilip, a small-time fabric seller in the cosmopolitan town of Rourkela, visiting Gujarat is an annual affair. Being a Gujarati, he gets to spend time with his family. But more importantly he and his wife scour Surat’s wholesale markets to buy stock of new designs for customers in Rourkela. Rajesh Meher in Sonepur, Odisha, is always on the move, trying to market and sell the new designs his weavers come up with. Meher’s father too was in the same profession and, for Rajesh, this was a natural path to follow. In India, after agriculture, textile is the second largest employment generating sector and Dilip and Meher are part of this growing ecosystem.

Even as the traders and business houses, including in the textile sector, are coming to terms with the GST changes (5 per cent slab), true to his mission ‘Make in India’ and to trigger India’s economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone all out in reforming and promoting India’s indigenous markets and putting it on a global pedestal. This was evident at the Textiles India 2017 trade fair held in Gandhinagar from 30 June-2 July. Textile ‘bridges the gap between agriculture and industry’ and the sector ‘offers significant employment opportunities’, said Modi inaugurating the exhibition and sourcing event. “Such trade fairs will help familiarise global and Indian leaders with India’s enabling policy environment, strengths and vast opportunities,” he said.

MoUs Galore
India’s textile industry employs about 40 million workers and 60 million indirectly. Industry reports point out that India is the world’s second largest exporters of textiles, next only to China, and commands a global share of around 5 per cent. India’s overall textile exports during FY15-16 stood at $40 billion, says the sectoral report by Commerce Ministry’s IBEF.

The domestic market for apparel and lifestyle products, currently estimated at $85 billion, is expected to reach $160 billion by 2025, according to government estimates, and according to Modi, this growth will be driven by the ‘rising middle class’.

At the textile-trade fair, at least 65 MoUs were signed. The MoUs, related to exchange of information and documentation, commercialisation of handloom and silk products, skill development, supply of cotton and trade promotion with international partners, and R&D were signed between various international and domestic organisations. Union Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani even went as far as calling it “the golden era for development of textile industry.”

With a plethora of investment opportunities across sectors, there is a clear motive to boost employment. At least 65 per cent of India’s population is below the age of 35, and with the textile sector promising expansion, such a move is bound to create millions of jobs. The Centre aims to create one crore new jobs in three years. To execute this plan, the Centre had approved a Rs 6,006-crore special package for textiles and apparel sector, attracting investments of $11 billion and generating $30 billion in exports.

Irani said, “The government’s commitment to ensure that technology enhances productivity has resulted in approval of a fund of Rs 17,822 crore for technology upgradation in textiles from 2015-2022.”

Several company heads and exporters present were determined to take textile trade to the next level. “The domestic industry is growing. The country’s per capita income is growing and hence a four-fold growth is expected in the apparel sector,” said Rakesh Biyani, Joint MD, Future Retail. Gautam Singhania, Chairman and MD of Raymond; Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group; David Cummings, President of US Polo Association; Kihak Sung, Chairman of Korea Federation of Textile Industries, were among the noted faces at the event.

Describing India as a bright spot in the global economy, Modi said that India has emerged as one of the most attractive global investment destinations. “This has been made possible by a series of sustained policy initiatives,” the PM said.

Quality Control
Still troubles persist. For starters, India faces stiff competition from Vietnam and Bangladesh, which enjoy an edge over India. And despite producing the finest quality of cotton in the world, India has to sell cotton at discounted prices due to contaminations. Only about 2.5 per cent of cotton is tested in India as compared to other countries. However, slowly but surely, quality issues are being addressed. Such initiatives definitely will help bring the required attention to the textile industry.

The three-day event was attended by participants from 106 countries. Around 15,000 Indian buyers and sellers, 2,500 international buyers, international delegates and representatives, artisans and weavers came together for the event.