With the growing negative impact of COVID-19, every stakeholder from the Indian textile and apparel industry is concerned and doing their best in whatever ways possible – be it supporting their staff, donating to Governments, NGOs, etc.
At the same time, it is good to see that someone has come forward to support expats (expatriates) and that too unconditionally. As per industry estimates, around 10,000 Indian professionals are working across the globe in various roles in the supply chain of the textile and apparel industry. Similarly, thousands of overseas professionals are also working in India’s apparel manufacturing and retail sector. So, supporting expats is the need of the hour.
GK Sood, MD, Universal Management Consultants, Gurgaon, is one of the most respected names in providing quality talent in the apparel industry. Immediately after nationwide lockdown announced in India, his company’s CSR initiative launched services for expat candidates to help their families settled in India to provide them with the essential services required. “I got an overwhelming response from the industry as many in my circle approached me to contribute to this initiative in different ways,” GK Sood told Apparel Resources.
His large and effective business circle across the globe is instrumental in this initiative, as Madhu Madhurakavi, Ex-Director – Sourcing of Benetton India who is now working as an independent consultant at Madhu M Kavi Consultants and many more came forward to support as volunteers in this cause and are ready for provide unconditional help for the expatriates at this time.
GK Sood very humbly added that “expats may or may not need any help, but we are there to help them during this global challenge without any self-interest.”
Apparel Resources approached a few expats in this regard and explored how they are managing during the current difficult phase caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them have decided to stay wherever they were working before the lockdown, as travelling would require them to quarantine themselves. Moreover, they deem it their responsibility to support their units, which also led them to take the aforementioned decision. As a matter of fact, some of them have their family circles or relatives in India, so they don’t have any major issue.
Rajan Bhatnagar, Director – Operations, Denimach Ltd, Dhaka, who is from Delhi and has been working in Dhaka for more than a decade, told Apparel Resources, “We have a group of around 350 Indian expats who are working in Dhaka’s apparel industry. All of us are safe and in touch with the office of the High Commission of India, Bangladesh.”
There are hundreds of expats (non-Indians) from many countries who are working in the Indian apparel industry and the majority of them are from Sri Lanka. They are also in India during the ongoing global pandemic.
Working for more than a decade in India, Sri Lanka’s apparel manufacturing consultant Chandrajith Wickramasinghe, Founder and CEO, Corrigo Consultancy, told, “The pandemic and lockdown happened suddenly, and there was no point going back to Sri Lanka. So the majority of Sri Lankan professionals (whom I know) are in India and they are working at responsible positions for their projects or companies. They don’t wish to leave things here and go back.”
Another Sri Lankan consultant Gayan Ruhunage, AppRail, working in Kolkata, Ludhiana and other Indian apparel manufacturing hubs, echoes a similar opinion. “I don’t see any reason for any expats to go back, as the situation is almost the same everywhere,” he told.
At the same time, Manish Bharati, Business Head, Bhartiya International Limited, expressed his views on the current situation, underlining how a number of Indians working in Italy have opted to stay there, “I feel there may be at least 100 Indians working in Italy’s textile and apparel industry and most of them are still there. So far, I have not heard any expats facing any major problem.” Manish worked in Ultima Italia (part of Bhartiya International Limited), Milan (Italy), from December 2017 to December 2019, and is now settled in Gurugram.