Moved out of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani put up a brave face Wednesday, saying her new Textiles portfolio will help her scale up Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Make in India and live up to the faith that “my party, and especially the Prime Minister” have in her “capacity to implement the roadmap”.
Speaking to reporters after taking charge as Union Minister of Textiles, Irani dismissed questions about BJP president Amit Shah being behind her shift, saying it is not an individual but the party which takes such decisions. “In the sangathan, it’s not an individual that plans, it’s the party.”
Asked if the move to shift her out was to give her more time to take a greater share of responsibility in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, she quoted a line from a song in the Hindi blockbuster Amar Prem: “Kuch toh log kahenge, Logon ka kaam hai kehna”.
Boosting textile exports and improving income of weavers, Irani said, will be the cornerstone of the government’s efforts in the sector — the second largest employment generator in the country after agriculture.
“I am grateful that I have been given an opportunity to serve in this sector. I recognise that this is one of the sectors undertaken under the Make in India campaign. I am hopeful that the emphasis with regard to better engagement with industry, in order to facilitate growth in exports, will be the cornerstone of our efforts here,” she said.
“Also, we will ensure that weavers, who are the very bedrock of this ministry, get full support in order to expand their incomes… I am also aware there are lot challenges related to skilling (in the sector).”
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Defending her earlier tenure, Irani said the HRD ministry spent as much as 35 per cent of the allocated funds in the first quarter, as compared to 14 per cent expenditure done under the UPA regime, and also framed a new education policy.
She said she hoped that the much-awaited new national textile policy “will soon see the light of day” and she would focus on implementing the Rs 6,000-crore package announced by the government on June 22 for turning around the sector.
“I am happy that I have been given an opportunity, especially when a special package has been announced for the sector. This signifies that my party, and especially the Prime Minister, has faith that I have the capacity to implement the roadmap that was projected through the Cabinet for the rest of the country.”
She said the textile sector employs women in large numbers and the government wants to facilitate more of that. “I will only say this that there is possibly not much of an understanding of a sector which has the largest potential now to employ and skill, and the potential to now scale up the Prime Minister’s dream of Make of India.”
“I am happy that I have been given a charge in a ministry that not only facilitates more and more women who can be employed, but if you look at the ministry as such today, you will find even the officers who are serving here are mostly women.”
Earlier in the day, she tweeted on her tenure in HRD: “In last 2 years, all initiatives of @HRDMinistry have been towards increasing learning outcomes for students and improving quality of education.”
“I thank officials from @HRDMinistry for the consistent support in realising PM @narendramodi’s vision of ensuring quality education for all,” she said in another tweet.
— With PTI