Textiles 2017 will boost Make in India: Smriti Irani


Textiles 2017 will boost Make in India: Smriti Irani

Textiles 2017, billed as India’s first mega trade event in the sector with 15,000 participants from all over the world, will be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar on 30 June. It is aimed at significantly uplifting India’s textile industry, which employs more than 45 million people directly, contributes to 10% of manufacturing production, 2% of India’s GDP and 13% of the country’s export earnings. Union minister of textiles, Smriti Irani, spoke to Shefalee Vasudev about the opportunities for creating jobs in the sector, plans for making India a global textile hub and the challenges

With the PM’s opening address and with state chief ministers and cabinet ministers speaking, won’t Textiles 2017 get drowned under political rhetoric?

Not at all. Last year, the Prime Minister announced a special package of Rs 6,000 crores with the aim of creating one crore 11 lakh jobs in the next three years. This sector has tremendous job generation potential. What better way than the PM of a country opening this event to convey the importance given to the textile industry? Besides, chief ministers of the three partner states -Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra -are keen on textile development and tapping investor and manufacturer connects.To promote India as the top global destination for textiles, linkages with ministries of commerce, skilling and urban development are only logical.

So will Textiles 2017 become a part of the Make in India initiative?

Absolutely . Not physically by hosting it at the same venue but in linkage, collaborative synergies and promotion, this has all the facets of Make in India. It ropes in weavers, designers, manufacturers, buyers, exporters, suppliers from handloom to technical textiles and organic produce to man-made fibres, even educational institutes and live demos from national awardee craftspeople all under one roof. Twentysix round tables will be hosted by the industry and not just big names. The programme has attracted Japanese exhibitors, Korean and Chinese buyers as well as enquiries from the Fashion Institute of Technology , New York. There is one round table only with female entrepreneurs–a first of its kind industry attempt.

National awardee weavers keep getting mentioned but nothing has been done to facilitate weavers with their own signature brands. How will this event change things for the weavers themselves?

That depends on how a particular weaver or weaver group uses this trade event. There are 40 lakh-odd weavers in India, once they register under the India Handloom Brand, they get an IHB tag, which is hallmark of quality , with details of their background, contacts and creations in a completely transparent exchange. That will give them a signature and enhance their visibility for interested man ufacturers.

Yet both the fashion shows planned at Textiles 2017 showcase designers.Doesn’t that tilt the importance towards fashion rather than weavers?

Assuming that this event is tilted towards fashion is being unfair to the entire industry which sweeps from home textiles to medical fabrics; from technical textiles used by the Indian Army for parachuting gear to other performance fabrics. One of the biggest participants at this event is the Swedish home textiles giant Hemtex.So being overawed by or partial to fashion it is not the goal here.

Indian textiles are synonymous with the handmade and handloom. How will this event promote technical textiles with equal emphasis on creative business value?

Please understand that whoever is interested in craft gets that but that doesn’t sum up the story . Facilitation, opportunity and exposure will be equal for all kinds of products and fabrics. Every manufacturer or investor will find whatever interests them from India’s holistic textile value chain.

Which among the Indian states do you currently see with most potential to break into the global textiles market?

The idea is to create opportunities. We are keen to exhibit the extraordinary potential of textiles from the North Eastern states, especially Assam but, states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are also on the top. These are closely followed by Karnataka, Jharkhand and Telangana. We have left our doors open for everyone to leverage the opportunity.But let it be said that artisans from all over the country will be present here.