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Indian knitwear Industry Gears up to defeat China in Apparel Export

T.R. Vijaya Kumar, the great Indian clothes maker thinks it’s time for his country to take on Bangladesh, Vietnam, and even China for leadership in the global apparel industry.

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Textile. Wikimedia

Sept 17, 2016: T.R. Vijaya Kumar, the great Indian clothes maker thinks it’s time for his country to take on Bangladesh, Vietnam, and even China for leadership in the global apparel industry.

He’s a second-generation manufacturer, who transformed his small family clothing business in southern India into an apparel exporter of 1,700 employees and his goal is to double its sales by 2020. When it comes to his hometown of Tiruppur, which is mostly referred to as the knitwear capital of India, his ambitions are bigger and  broader, tripling exports and adding 500,000 jobs in the process, reported Bloomberg.

But the problem that is occurring is that other Asian countries are more ahead than India. India’s $17 billion exports of apparel were half as much as Bangladesh’s last year and its 3.7 percent global market share were behind Vietnam’s 5.1 percent. Apparel is a labor-intensive industry, which has helped developing economies transition out of agriculture. The Indian economy needs to generate more than eighty million new jobs by 2025 to keep up with its fast-growing population.

Indian Knitwear Industry in Tiruppur

PM Narendra Modi’s biggest failure so far has been an inability to boost employment, according to a recent poll. His new government recently announced a nearly $1 billion package for textile and garment makers, including subsidies for hiring, tax refunds and relaxation of overtime rules with a goal to create 10 million jobs and boost exports by $30 billion in the next three years.  Adding to the challenge is that the textile industry suffered a reputation blow last month, August 2016, when Target Corp. terminated $90 million of business with Welspun India Ltd. for labelling cheaper bedsheets as premium Egyptian cotton.

A key weakness of the sector is worker productivity, which is almost three times lower than in China. About 78 percent of Indian companies employ less than 50 workers, compared with 15 percent in China, according to Subramanium. That also means a lot of them remain below the threshold of government taxes and regulation, known by economists as the “informal” economy. A report released this year by the World Bank showed that Bangladesh had 15 times more garment workers formally employed than in the informal sector, while India has about seven times more informal garment workers than formal.

That gap could widen as foreign garment and textile producers continue to embrace automation. “India needs to start climbing the ladder fast to take advantage of its young population,” said Russell Green, an international economics fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Texas. “Automation is making the ladder shorter and shorter over time.”

There’s more holding India back. A focus on cotton garments limitThat gap could widen as foreign garment and textile producers continue to embrace automation. “India needs to start climbing the ladder fast to take advantage of its young population,” said Russell Green, an international economics fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Texas. “Automation is making the ladder shorter and shorter over time.”s its access to the winter clothes market, while buyers perceive the country as slower and less reliable than China or Vietnam, according to the World Bank report. In neighbouring Bangladesh, where garments account for 80 percent of overseas shipments, the monthly minimum wage is about 30 percent lower than India’s $105, and exporters don’t pay duties to the European Union.

Among them is Venkatachalam Babu, a small business owner who pays workers by the piece. In a workshop attached to his home, his staff of 12, including two family members, cut and stitch children’s underwear and pants from leftover fabric he buys from exporters.

While foreign markets are out of reach, Babu can bank on a fast-expanding domestic market that smaller rivals don’t have. Once an employee himself, he started his company 20 years ago with four workers. He’ll register it, he said, when the headcount crosses 20 people.

“We want to grow big,” he said as his mother sat cross-legged on the floor sorting pieces, surrounded by bags of fabric. “A problem is labor shortage.”

Tiruppur exporters have also joined forces to lower costs by educating companies on “lean” production management techniques and training factory staff to raise output. The government is partly funding the programs.

Kumar said the push was inspired by Modi, who during a 2013 campaign stop told the manufacturers to make proposals to expand, rather than just list concerns. Now the group hopes to take its action plan to the capital, 1,500 miles north, and have Modi mobilize all ministers at once.

– prepared by Shayari Dutta of NewsGram 

  • Manthra koliyer

    Our knit wear and handicrafts have always been sought after.

  • Antara

    Indian knitwear can seriously beat other countries in uniqueness and exclusivity!

  • Arya Sharan

    Indian knitwear has always been in a great demand and with some more attention and infrastructure provided, we can surely beat other countries.

  • enakshi

    Indian knitwear can beat China, but the rate of productivity is lacking somewhere because of the employement issues!

  • Rawshan Iajdani

    This guy has only 1700 worker and talking about taking on Bangladesh and China. I have a close friend who employed 70,000 workers in his factories in Dhaka.

SHARE
  • Manthra koliyer

    Our knit wear and handicrafts have always been sought after.

  • Antara

    Indian knitwear can seriously beat other countries in uniqueness and exclusivity!

  • Arya Sharan

    Indian knitwear has always been in a great demand and with some more attention and infrastructure provided, we can surely beat other countries.

  • enakshi

    Indian knitwear can beat China, but the rate of productivity is lacking somewhere because of the employement issues!

  • Rawshan Iajdani

    This guy has only 1700 worker and talking about taking on Bangladesh and China. I have a close friend who employed 70,000 workers in his factories in Dhaka.

Next Story

Only A Strong Leader Can Control The Mobocracy

Today we need a strong leader and strong nation. But this doesn't mean that it has to be against the culture of political pluralism. Such a leader need not be against federalism, need not run an unitary government.

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Narendra Modi, modi biopic
EC bans online streaming of web series on Modi. Pixabay

BY: JAYANTA GHOSAL

I am a human being – Homo sapiens. But does that mean I am poor, brutish, nasty and small? That is what Thomas Hobbes had thought. Machiavelli’s prince had also said that if you want to control people, the masses, the electorate – then you’ve to keep a whip in your hand like the ringmaster in a circus. Only a strong leader can control the mobocracy.

The great Indian political circus has also had several Prime Ministers. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi. Each Prime Minister is unique The modus operandi is different. In 2014 when Modi entered Lutyen’s Delhi, the popular perception was that a strong man has arrived. Like the arrival of James Bond, after the World War II to dispel the darkness of the depressed British masses. Plato had preached that for a philosopher king who would also be the representative of God – that he will bring justice to mankind.

India
The Vajpayee era could easily be said as the beginning of the ‘swarna yug’ of Indian economy. It was under his leadership that India went for Pokhran 2, but was he a strong leader? The Indian mythology of strong leadership would dictate that he wasn’t. Pixabay

Today in a democracy, we chose our leader through the process of election. There is no monarch. Nor do we have a philosopher leader like S. Radhakrishnan. We have Modi and the popular perception persists that he is a ‘strong leader’. At the eve of another election, the discourse on strong leadership has started again. But we need to understand that strong leader doesn’t mean an undemocratic leader. I think that even in a coalition government one needs a strong leadership to run the coalition. A strong leader does not mean that he will be blunt to the ideas of others – that he or she will not listen to the voice of the people. Rather, if you want to frame policies, you’ve to talk to experts, bureaucrats and even other people.

After getting 282 seats, was Modi reluctant to listen any other opinion?

I think this belief is absolutely wrong. I know his style of functioning and I can say, bluntly, that each and every day he spoke to several people on different subjects. In Lutyen’s Delhi, there is a wrong perception that he takes his own decision – this isn’t correct. In Delhi, he begins his daily routine with briefing meetings. Principal Secretary Nripendra Mishra meets him first. Then P.K. Mishra and other PMO officials. He talks to his PS and APSs daily. Then, the PM conducts video conferences with his department secretaries. He would also hold such conferences with state government officials.

He also has his own unique way of taking inputs from the feedback from the ground; a team, a set-up that isn’t just restricted to social media like Twitter or Facebook. He seeks opinion from the chaupals of different villages. Before the declaration of the election, he conducted a review meeting. The PMO wanted to know the status of implementation of different Government of India schemes in the country’s 29 states and 7 union territories.

It is true that Modi didn’t encourage the Dalal Raj of the political system. In Maharashtra, what is the reason for the deteriorating relationship between Uddhav and Modi took in the past 5 years? Was it ideological? Was it the just the BJP’s single party mindset? An arrogance of big brotherhood? The informed political circle know that the actual reason is because Shiv Sena couldn’t get the malai of Delhi’s power. It started with the Mumbai corporation and ended in a cabinet birth for Shiv Sena.

When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, Balasaheb quarrelled on several issues. But the supply line for Shiv Sena was never disturbed. Vajpayee was the first NDA PM in 1998. The Vajpayee era could easily be said as the beginning of the ‘swarna yug’ of Indian economy. It was under his leadership that India went for Pokhran 2, but was he a strong leader? The Indian mythology of strong leadership would dictate that he wasn’t.

Vajpayee was, after all, a man of political consensus. How can such a leader be characterised as strong? Here lies the fallacy. Once the late Pramod Mahajan of the BJP told me: “Do you know what is our major problem in this party and government? And what is the advantage the Gandhi family of the Congress have?” He explained: “In our party it is a tyranny of democracy. Vajpayee may be the leader but there is an oligarchy. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha. And beyond these leaders there is Nagpur. Humhara yaha fayasla lenese jada chintan manthan hota haye!”

In congress there is a working committee but only one Gandhi will take the final call. Nobody can object. Sharad Pawar and Purno Sangma raised issues and they had to leave the party. Only once Vajpayee did not disclose the decision to Advani also — and that was the Pokhran blast and that event made Indian leadership strong! See, Advani pressurised Vajpayee to hold general election six months early. And Vajpayee accepted. He lost the election.

democracy
Our Constitution suggests a quasi-federal structure, and such a leader can be a symbol of that political entropy. But creating a hate campaign against Modi, projecting him as an autocrat – is that democracy? Pixabay

Can anybody dictate Modi like this today?

In the party national executive meeting held at Palampur (Himachal Pradesh), the BJP leadership led by Advani took the resolution in 1989 to start Ramjanmabhomi movement. Vajpayee objected but he was a loner and a minority voice. Now this model of Vajpayee leadership is desirable? When a General cannot issue order to his soldiers forcefully? Second, when you are a victim of political blackmail. P.V. Narasimha Rao had to manage JMM MPs to win the no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. How can he be the strong man? Manmohan Singh did not like it, but chargesheeted Lalu Prasad was in his cabinet. I recall that once, while accompanying him during a trip, he said on record that keeping Lalu in cabinet is coalition compulsion. Manmohan Singh wanted to go to Pakistan to talk. The party said no. How can he be a strong leader?

Also Read: Diabetes During Pregnancy Spikes up the Risk in Kids Later

Today we need a strong leader and strong nation. But this doesn’t mean that it has to be against the culture of political pluralism. Such a leader need not be against federalism, need not run an unitary government. Our Constitution suggests a quasi-federal structure, and such a leader can be a symbol of that political entropy. But creating a hate campaign against Modi, projecting him as an autocrat – is that democracy? Actually, till today, I have not seen one Devkant Baruah statement in the BJP saying ‘Modi is India’. (IANS)