Neglected for decades, the textile ministry has over the last two years seen a spike in fund allocation by the Union government and now has an ambitious target of attracting investments of $11 billion, while generating $30 billion in exports, while simultaneously boosting jobs.
There’s no doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who represents Varanasi, a handloom hub – has kept focus on the textile industry, a promise he made to his constituency during the Lok Sabha election campaign.
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In April 2014, a month before sweeping to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi told an election rally in Varanasi that weavers were an integral part of the city’s history and have been neglected by consecutive governments both – in the state and Centre. “I believe that our weavers can compete with China,” he had said.
A Rs 200-crore Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum project – that seeks to benefit weavers and other handicraft workers of Varanasi and adjoining districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh – is also underway.
Besides Varanasi, the Modi government has also decided to focus on the Northeast. During his visit to Nagaland in December 2014, the Prime Minister announced the setting up of a modern garment manufacturing centre in each of the Northeast states beginning with Nagaland, Assam and Sikkim under the North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme. The Nagaland and Tripura centres were inaugurated by former MoS Santosh Kumar Gangwar in April this year and the government claims the other centres are ready.
NERTPS, an umbrella scheme for the development of various segments of textiles – silk, handlooms, handicrafts and apparels & garments – has a total outlay of Rs. 1038.10 crore in the 12th Five Year Plan.
The government allocated Rs. 18.18 crore for each state and estimated job creation for about 1,200 people in each of the centres.
In June this year, the Union Cabinet announced a grant of Rs 6,000 crore to the textile industry, hoping to surpass textile production countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh within the next three years.
Interestingly, India’s share in the global garment industry is just 3.1 per cent. China’s is around 35 per cent and Bangladesh’s share is 60 per cent more than that of India’s. The Union government also introduced a scheme to help weavers upgrade existing technology.
The Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme provides those eligible with a one-time capital subsidy for a seven-year period ending 2021-22. The scheme has a budgetary provision of Rs 17,822 crore for the next seven years. The scheme hopes to generate an investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore and generate employment of 30.5 lakh people.
In the last two years, Rs 3,277 crore has been released as subsidy to those who have availed of it.
In its ‘Achievements of Two Years’ release, the Ministry of Textiles has claimed to have spent over Rs 6500 crore on various schemes for the promotion and development of the sector.
From the promotion of handicrafts, to exports, to setting up branches and new National Institutes of Fashion Technology, it has claimed to have created an additional five lakh jobs in the last two years.
In terms of growth, apparel and handicrafts have recorded 22 per cent growth each, and the textile industry – on the whole – has seen an eight per cent growth, pushing its share in the country’s total exports up two points – from 13 per cent to 15 per cent.
So, the Textile Ministry might not really be a rung below as some believe. There is no doubt that the minister has enough to keep herself busy with the new portfolio.