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Integrated industry is the answer to the growth path for textiles and apparel

by Deepak Mohindra

01-June-2019  |  4 mins read

Integrated industry
Image Courtesy: https://www.thenational.ae

Well, now that we are assured of policy continuity and political stability, the industry has no fear of any further ‘surprises’ from the Government.

In fact, the mood is quite positive as there is hope that the many things which were promised just before the elections will now be fulfilled.

So, we can assume that all the investments that were put on hold, due to the uncertainties that elections bring in, will be put back on track in the next few months… or can’t we?

If the scenario shapes up the way it should, the industry, in all probability, will be looking at growth… But one cannot discount the external factors that can rock the boat. Global markets are not what they used to be earlier and emerging markets are not yet giving the volumes that garment manufacturers are accustomed to.

It is a Catch-22 situation; if factories don’t add capacity, how will they grow and capitalise on shifting sourcing trends? On the other hand, can they optimise production with increased capacity…? This is indeed a difficult question to solve.

Most industry watchers believe that business can never move out of India, mostly because of the ‘value’ content that the country is giving, which in reality no other country, including Turkey, can offer.

The sad truth is that though India is perhaps the only sourcing destination that has every ingredient a retailer/brand of fashion needs to create designs that are truly different, manufacturers are still struggling and competing in the mass market.

The three major elements that make India unique – textile capacities,numerous techniques and small compliant factories – are underutilised and work in isolation. There is no coordination between these three streams to develop and offer products that no retailer/brand looking for eye-catching products can ignore.

The strength of an integrated supply chain is an area that not even the policy makers have dived into for growth of the textile industry.Handlooms and handcrafts are considered a separate segment, with no integration into the mainline industry.

Though all the elements of this unique textile industry come under one Ministry, but the approach has never been consolidated. Each segment is left to fend for itself.

There was talk of an integrated textile policy, even before the current Government began its first term in 2014, but the same has still to see the light of day. Is it very difficult to formulate such a policy which could help the Indian textile industry find its deserved place in the global scenario?

This is the same Government that had the conviction to implement GST to completely revolutionise the business tax system. No doubt, issues remain and it will take some time for the country to become comfortable with the system, but at least the first bold step has been taken!

Unfortunately, no one who has been in-charge of the Textile Ministry till date has been strong enough to take a decisive call on the factors that could turn around the industry 360 degrees – be it an integrated textile policy, an updated labour law that matches the needs of today, a fresh look at export promotion activities or even a way to enhance employment interest in an industry that is losing its way.Can we hope for a change this time?

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