How textile and apparel industry can contribute to India’s US $ 5 trillion economy

by Dheeraj Tagra

23-November-2019  |  8 mins read

Driving India towards US $ 5 trillion economy is a humongous target and to achieve this, a commendable growth of the textile and apparel industry is a must.

Being well aware about this fact, various stalwarts of the industry, including leading manufacturers, recently had a deliberation on this at Texcon’19, the one-and-a-half day-long thought-provoking conference organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at Delhi.

Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani, Textile Secretary Ravi Capoor and many stalwarts of the textile and apparel industry were part of this thought-provoking discussion. The beauty of the event was that it covered all aspects of the textile and apparel industry and the discussions were quite meaningful.

The Minister claimed that in the last 3 years, the Government has done a lot for the industry and now it’s the industry’s turn to come forward to avail the benefits of the Government’s initiatives and work with a broad vision. She and a few other participants of the conference also insisted that the industry has a lot of scope to improve its overall working and it is high time ‘to act, to improve ourselves’.

Texcon’19
Texcon’19 had a full house and an active audience sharing their observations and suggestions about the growth of the textile and apparel industry

The industry stalwarts insisted upon focussing on export, sustainability, efficiency improvement, more use of MMF to promote brand India, etc., so as to help the apparel and textile industry grow.

Gautam Nair, Past Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles & MD, Matrix Clothing put forth all pending demands of the industry be it pending TUF subsidy, pending notification of RoSCTL, fibre neutral policy, etc., at the conference. “Our industry has tremendous potential, and with Government support, we can achieve our targets,” he shared and added that the Government has supported trade but needs to address the above-mentioned issues too.

He also said “We must have ‘improving market access’ for India by focusing on bilateral agreements with the EU and US. To address the issue of disperse value chain, there is a need to promote the clusters of textile and apparel value chain which are located close to the port so that one can achieve speed to market.”

Highlighting Government initiatives and future plans, Ravi Capoor, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles insisted that without focusing on export, no country can grow well and become a really big economy. “We have to become an export-driven economy. Every country has its own strengths and competitiveness and we should also focus on our strengths.” According to him, the industry should work towards reducing dependency on machinery and technology import. Government is also working seriously on this.

As per him, Government is moving ahead to set up mega parks near ports to attract FDI as well as promote the competitiveness of Indian textile and apparel manufacturers. “Brandix, Vizag and Kakatiya, Telangana are the only two mega parks in India having the entire ecosystem. We need to bring the entire supply chain at one place and mega textile parks will be helpful in this direction,” he added.

JD Giri
JD Giri, Director, Shahi Exports shared an interesting point regarding funding for research and development, which can also be connected to activities like efficiency improvement, etc.

It is pertinent to mention here that just 10 Indian companies are having an export of more than Rs. 1,000 crore. It is a clear signal that Indian companies need to focus on the scale of manufacturing.

Moreover, without achieving higher efficiency and using maximum automation, textile and apparel industry can’t be competitive and grow as per the potential. Some of the factories across India are leading this innovation and creating a benchmark for others. Raymond Ltd. is one of them. Harish Chatterjee, VPManufacturing of the company highlighted how their Vapi-based plant is among India’s best manufacturing units using state-of-the-art infrastructure and having maximum output.

Industry experts also insisted that a lot has been said and heard about sustainability, but it has to be made sure that sustainability should not become just a department like HR as most of the companies’ HR departments today are present only for namesake and do not actually  contribute to their long-term growth. No one should ignore sustainability at all.

Looking beyond core competitors and whatever benefits they are getting at the international level, India should take examples from others as well. Just focusing on cotton, India is trying to compete with the poorest or low-cost countries having minimum costs. Ajit Ranade, President & Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group shared, “Apart from the aforementioned factors, we have to see and follow a country like Turkey as this country, in spite of having a volatile economy, has focused on many aspects including turnaround time, quality and technology.”

Raymond Ltd.
Harish Chatterjee, VP-Manufacturing, Raymond Ltd., shared how their Vapi’s state-of-the-art unit is being appreciated by Italian experts

The stalwarts also insisted that if the industry has to achieve its desired growth, it has to work on its own conditions, rather than being at the mercy of the buyers. The apparel export industry at present seems to have the vision to become another Bangladesh but the question that arises is why India can’t become India rather than following any other country.

Smriti Irani, Union Textile Minister insisted that industry should improve through a holistic approach and suggested that Indian apparel exporters should sell their sustainability story in the international market. She even assured that the national textile policy will be finalised soon.

 “Indian textile industry is doing reasonably well compared to other industries, but it needs to work on overall competitiveness and needs to focus more on value-added products in the entire supply chain. Industry needs to focus on supply chain management too and improve at its own level, beyond looking at Government incentives,” RD Udeshi, President – Polyester Chain, Reliance Industries Ltd. 

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