West Bengal, with this
word comes gushing the
sound of 'Ullu', 'Dhak' the
tune of 'Rabindra sangeet' the
cacophony of bus tram and
cycle rickshaw. A state that has
a vibrant historical and cultural
background has always attracted
people with its Literature,
Food and politics.
Pre Independent era marked West Bengal as the 'Intellectual Hub' of the country with writers, poets artists and till date the state has survived the competition and maintained that strata, a state that touches your heart with the simplicity of life, a community that still believes in taking break and sitting by the shore of 'Gages' and sing 'Tomar khola hawa lagiye pale' is known worldwide for its exquisite handloom, Silk and hadicraft. Bengal’s Taant, Resham, Dhonekhali, Jamdani, Tangail, Battick, needs no introduction to those who wear sarees and the connoisseur of hand woven art.
The partition of Bengal struck the first blow to the region’s economy, killing the massively profitable jute industry,Bengal accounted for half of the global jute production at the time. Suddenly, manufacturers in western Bengal and growers in eastern Bengal found themselves in two separate, sovereign ‾ and hostile ‾ states. In West Bengal, another spell of degeneration came after the Communists stormed to power in 1977. In 1981, West Bengal accounted for 9.8% of the industrial output of India. In less than two decades, that figure fell by half, to 5.1%. In 1986, the Kolkata airport was handling about 10% of India’s import‾ export volume. In 1999, this had dropped to 4%, strikes, gheraos and lock-outs encouraged by the Communist Party of India has a great role to play in the downfall of the state’s economy.
West Bengal remained in the ’No’ list of investors for a long 34 years, industries grew slow, unemployment, labour issues casted a dark spell around the city till people felt the need to bring 'Change'
The 8th chief minister of the state determined the strength of the state that can bring myriad changes in the infrastructure. The new Government started promoting agriculture and handloom of the state that happens to be the niche skill of the rural Bengal and has tremendous potential to add up to the economy if nurtured wisely. In 2014‾15 the West Bengal economy grew at 10% year on year growth than the national average, as also did its industrial sector, the per capita income has got a boost of 12.8% since 2011, Tax revenue in West Bengal has gone upto 42.9%, doubling in the past five years and all these have put Bengal in the leading row once again.
Government’s constant efforts to regain the glory of best craftsmanship in the world, as a part of economic strategy, has been designed keeping in textile industry in the centre.
Bengal handloom has history, longer than we can evaluate, Shantipur and Phulia are synonymous with Bengal’s Handloom, Shantipur saw gradual inflow of techniques like the Barrel Dobby facilitating the conversion from Throw Shuttle to Fly Shuttle (1920s), the Jacquard Machine (1930s), and sectional warping and sizing that allowed production of warp yarns 350 yards long (1930s) and today handloom industry is the largest cottage industry of the state providing employment to 6,65,005 people according to the census conducted in 2010 and the 4th handloom census 2016-17 will only add up to that number.
In Bengal 4,06,761 household units are engaged in handloom activities which includes job roles like, dyeing, weaving, washing, ironing and many more essential activities and produces 715million Sq. Meter of hand woven fabric. An ongoing list of 19 developments scheme/ Project such as Mega Handloom cluster development project, Tanti Saathi, West Bengal Handloom Circuit Development scheme, Weavers Credit cards, Intergerating tourism with handloom, handcraft, state participation in share capital support to the state controlled spinning mills, incentives with special emphasis to handloom sector through west Bengal incentive scheme, 10% price subsidy on hank yarn under Mill Gate Price Schemeand many more along with the welfare schemes make West Bengal a hot spot for the textile investors.
Skill upgradation training, technology upgradation computerization of PWCS, yarn depot, design development and product development, computer aided textile design systems are the key areas these schemes are following. The new governemt has not only understood the need of marketing to sustain in global market but has embraced it with open arms, so promotion and marketing of handloom products has enlisted it self in the government’s project list and 'BISWA BANGLA ' and trade fairs occurring every now and then in the state, is the result . Biswa bangla, provides the handloom and handcraft culture of Bengal, a platform that promote them in the marketing channels in the domestic market as well as in the export market, this brings about a linkage between the two in a holistic and integrated manner. Biswa Bangla reaches out to hundreds of craftsmen and weavers in the state to develop handicraft products that stand out in terms of quality and uniqueness.
State government has decided to spend Rs. 12,180 crore for infrastructure development in the state in addition to Rs 20,155 cr allocated in this year’s budget for the purpose that will add up to the infrastructure of the state and make it more attractive to the investors. Government plans to set up 20 integrated textile/ apparel/hosiery parks in public private partnership at suitable locations in the State, facilitate, establishment of world –class common infrastructure.
50,000 educated unemployed youth of the State will be trained in textile related activities during the next 5 years in active handholding with Government of India, ITIs, Textile colleges, private sector players, universities and colleges and other related outfits. In this regard, the State Government shall facilitate setting up of an Institute of Apparel Management by the Apparel Export Promotion Council in or around Kolkata.
Apart from the handloom and textile sector the government has taken up agenda’s to promote hosiery industry too, West Bengal happens to be the birth place of Hosiery Industry with the first factory set up in khidderpure.The industry mainly stretched out in Kolkata, south 24 pargana’s today has an employee base of 1.1 lakh people in 17900 working unit and producing 176 million Kg of hosiery cloth.
The Kolkata based Hosiery brand Lux Industries, which has a strong foothold in export markets including Africa, Middle East and some countries of South East Asia, is also looking at expanding its footprint in developed countries, through exports of premium innerwear along with 14-15 new stores by next year, which testify the lucrative hosiery market in the state.
Government aided organisations are providing per day work to many workers in the washing, dyieng, stitching sector with minimum wages for 100days which has proved to be a boon for the state with regular worker and employment. West Bengal, being a substantial chemical and local dye producer, is a natural river port that has cheap power and labour at its dispose and a great market not only in India but to Bangladesh, south and east Asia a part of trade agreement, has many advantages tagged along with the investment relationship.
Texpro Bengal is an
effort to establish West
Bengal as a leading
destination of globally
competitive value-added textile like
readymade garments, processed
power loom and knitted fabric,
technical textile and apparel
products for both domestic and
Under this around 13 textile parks are being launched together creating 22.7 million sq. ft. for industrial use in textile sector. However, the success and fast execution of all these projects depend a lot on the industry as they have to come forward to assist the government to achieve the desired goal. Also, there is a need for institutionalisation of every plan and program so that the process is not disturbed in future too.
West Bengal urgently needs promotion, branding, and marketing for the products more vigorously. At the same time minimising the cost of production while taking advantage of low cost labour is also required at a major level. Now is the time for the manufactures to look at deficiencies, if any, on their part instead of criticizing and blaming others. Rahul Mehta, President, CMAI during one of the conferences in West Bengal said even though the state has many manufacturers, but there is no major brand excepting a few. This is because of fear of being a large one to avoid any complication. He said future of any industry depends on brand at the same time, retail sector has to be standardised through an effective policy. Mehta said Kolkata is home of kids wear, which has a great potential. But, he regretted there is no such development in the sector as most of them are in unorganised area. The government as well as the industry should look into it more seriously. He said since garment is a cost-oriented industry, special emphasis should be given to minimize the cost with an aim to compete the international market for higher export volume.
West Bengal has
held its position
as number one
in undergarments and in kids
wear for many years. It is the
birthplace of hosiery industry in
India. Additionally it is the only
center for work wear. The
garment sector is mainly
concentrated in the clusters of
Metiabruz, Maheshtala, etc. who
sells all the garments in the
domestic market. In fact, approx.
15000 manufacturing units
around Metiabruz, 3000 units
around Maheshtala and around 5
lakh job workers spread across
the Metiabruz, Maheshatala and
nearby villages. The production is
around 10 to 15 cr. pieces
annually, with average unit value
of Rs 300 -350 per piece, though
products worth Rs 1000 or above
are also sold.
AEPC has also come to the forefront and is aggressively working on making West Bengal complete in all ways and make it an organised garment manufacturing hub. In fact, they have adopted Matiabruz which is more than 200 years old and was mainly churning out low cost garments for kids. After the adoption by AEPC, the cluster has seen a lot of investments as they target it to become a major export hub for apparels in the coming times. At this cluster, average machine size was 15 -20 machines, though there are some units with over 100 machines also. The turnover of Metiabruz cluster is approximately Rs 5000 cr per year. However, the estimates can be higher, if indirect transactions are also considered. The nature of production of garments of Metiabruz cluster consist of manufacturers cut, pack and sell the garment while jobbers stich the garment. The cluster has witnessed nearly 25% growth in the last 5 years.
More than 90% of the manufacturers does not have inhouse cut to finish of garment process. So, they are majorly dependent on jobbers for stitching of the garments. Manufacturers specializing in different types of products prefer to outsource the processes to jobbers located in different places. Nandigram, Chatta, mannipur, ulberia, basheer haat, barasat, diamond harbour etc. Seconly, Matiabruz cluster manufacturers does not have its own designers and product development team. Design and Sampling has been done through catalogue and retail products. Manufacturers visit Mumbai monthly, buys catalogue and products from retailers/ wholesalers. They modify a little in the products and manufacture them in their units for selling. Some of the manufacturers also travel overseas yearly for collecting retail garments to develop the products. All the manufacturers have the in house cutting facility. They cut the fabrics on lay table, floor from hand fabric cutting machine. So the level of technology is not much.
The Metiabruz cluster will be
given support via information
through e-mails with a view to
bring the entrepreneur in exports
environment. In this phase the
basic requirement for exports
namely benefits to exporters,
direction of exports, 18 major
markets, procedures to export
and import, compliance
requirement, garment package
details and other information be
“The same cluster is now doing turnover of more than Rs 15000 crore annually, and AEPC is trying its level best to make it a qualitative cluster. An exhibition for promoting products made in this cluster was also organized and received a good response. Our main motto is to give them an exposure to international market as they are mainly making for domestic and indirectly sending it to few buyers in Middle East.. AEPC is working on improvement of cluster by providing them with a Common facility center which will have a resource center, lab center and will also organise workshops on market intelligence for benefit of workers.”
The Textile Policy of Government of West Bengal aims at
doubling the share of West. Bengal’s textiles industry from the
current 5.2% to at least 10% in next ten years. i.e. by 2022-23
in India’s textiles industry. This would mean doubling the
growth of the sector in the State from the current levels.
Assuming the proportion of output to labour employment
remains same in the State in textiles sector, then by 2023- 24
i.e. in next ten years if the State is able to increase its industry
size as targeted above, then it would provide employment to
at least 10 million people. Out of this at least 75% would be in
the unskilled and semi-skilled level if one goes by national
yardstick. The West Bengal Textile Policy-2013-2018 that come
into effect on and from the 1 September 2013 in the whole of
West Bengal will remain valid for the period ending on 31st
• From exporters point of view:
Kolkata port does not have the
Mother vessel facility and does
not go directly to main
exporting countries i.e EU and
UAE. It goes through
transshipment via Colombo &
Singapore and through
Mumbai port. Exporting
through Mumbai increases the
cost by almost 100%. This is
one of the biggest constraints for Kolkata garment exporters.
This also increases the time of
• Strikes, Political rallies and propagandas on smallest of the issues has always kept investors at the bay as they fear losses.
• Attitude of people towards work and mindset of working on traditional values and ethics is a disadvantage.
• The industry is largely unorganized and is surviving on old methods of manufacturing and techniques
• The industry is mainly catering to domestic market and in order to become export oriented compliance and quality has to be improved a lot.
• Cheap Labour and land
• Sourcing of raw material, accessories, machines is easy
• Skill set of workers is very high they are fast learners and creativity is inherited in them which makes things easier
• Government is proactive in making West Bengal a perfect destination of garment manufacturing. New apparel and textile parks coming up combined with support of associations like AEPC in changing the landscape of this city can prove very helpful in the long run.
• Historical experience of garment.
Out of the 29 states West Bengal is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse states of India. The people of India inherit their identity and aspirations from the larger Indian mosaic and from the civilizations across the shore. Different ethnicity, religion, languages and culture adds to this rich landscape and unifies the people instead of separating them. West Bengal has the brightest record of maintaining communal harmony since independence.
encompassing an extensive
railway system, domestic and
international airports, modern
ports, national highway, etc.
→A significant number of English-speaking graduates are coming out every year in the state. The government of West Bengal has set up an academic council to address the needs of the industry and bridge the gap between demand and supply of talent.
→There has also been a corresponding increase in the purchasing power of the vast majority of common people in rural areas. This has created a new market for consumption of industrial products in West Bengal. Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, is currently witnessing a boom in the retail sector.
→Considering the importance of the potential for generating employment and income all over the State by harnessing local resources and skill, a conscious policy for promotion of cottage and small-scale industries on an extensive scale was evolved.
→From being a power-deficit state in the early 1980s, West Bengal today has surplus power. Several new power projects are under implementation. Power tariffs are reasonable
→The state is witnessing a banking revival too. The percentage share of the banking & insurance sector in West Bengal’s NSDP at constant (1993-94) prices grew from 7.43% in 1996-97 to 12.23% in 2001-02.
→The IT professionals demand for ‘Better Infrastructure’ have in effect trigger the development of ‘New Kolkata’ and it would continue to do in the future also. Emergences of small towns like Gurgaon Noida are recent example of such multiplier effect accelerating the progress of the economy as a whole. The engineering industry covering Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics, Telecommunication & Instrumentation engineering, transport equipments and miscellaneous mechanical goods and precision instruments will be major recipient of multiplier effect as new IT enabled services would be put into use.
→With population in the developed/developing countries living longer and demanding more health care services at reasonable cost, WB can be the destination of such facilities with 30% cost advantage, considering the travel and allied cost.
→West Bengal is highly attractive to investors because of its fundamental business advantages. These are: one, the size and wealth of its markets; two, the quality of certain key resources, such as its agriculture, its people and its culture; three, the positive impact of a relatively low competitive intensity, and four, the government’s increasingly pro-investor stance.
→West Bengal surely will get advantage from the agreement on economic co-operation that has been recently signed by India and China. West Bengal’s locational advantage and that the opening up of the trade route to China through Nathula Pass would strengthen the State’s locational advantage as it can re-emerge as a natural transshipment point for the old silk route. With bright prospects of barrier free trade with neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan under the umbrella of the SAARC the state is destined to play a key role as the true economic hub of the sub-continent.
→West Bengal is in proximity to the coal belt, which is the biggest factor in favour of booming steel making sector. This will trigger a setting up of allied manufacturing sector. A new breed of first-generation bengali industrialists have entered into the manufacturing sector and many of the new projects are being promoted by people from Bengal, which indicates the changing mindset of Bengal people.
“Within next 5 years, the expected investment in Apparel & Textiles Sector of West Bengal will be around Rs.30,000 crore and 6 lakh direct and indirect employment will be generated”
PS:Is there any new policy or projects aiming at development of West Bengal as apparel and textile manufacturing hub?
Meghnad De:-Yes, There is Textiles Policy 2013-18 and West Bengal Incentive Scheme 2017. Drafting new Textiles Policy for next 5 years will be taken up shortly.
PS:Does West Bengal has all the ingredients to become a preferred apparel and manufacturing hub?
Meghnad De:-Yes, of course. The geographical location of West Bengal coupled with simplified rules and regulations has made the State an ideal destination in this sector. Some of the key advantages in West Bengal are:- 1) Large pool of skilled workers traditionally trained in hosiery and readymade garments
2) Significant producer of chemicals and local dyes used as key inputs in dyeing of fabrics
3) Quality power available 24X7
4) Abundant water
5) Cheap labour
6) Easy export facility due to Kolkata port and the airport
7) Huge markets in the neighbourhood, not only in India but also in Bangladesh and South and SE Asia
8) Ease of doing business through single window clearance mechanism
9) Transparent and forward looking Textile Policy 2013-2018
10) West Bengal MSME Venture Capital Fund providing equity support to investors (www.msmebengalinvest. in)
PS:Which areas in West Bengal are expected to see investments in field of apparel and textile manufacturing in form of apparel and textile parks, or dedicated apparel units and how much investment has been planned for these projects?
Meghnad De:-Howrah, Metiabruz, Garden Reach etc are some of the strategically important areas in West Bengal where a lot of investment is expected to come in next 5 to 10 years. Also to establish West Bengal as a leading producer of globally competitive value added textiles and apparel products for both domestic and international markets, the State Government has introduced a Mega project (TEXPRO BENGAL) with 12 Textiles Parks at strategically important locations in West Bengal under four major categories, viz, Apparel & Garments Park; Dyeing, Printing and Processing Park; Power loom Cluster Park; and Apparel & RMG Marketing Hub. Investors can safely invest to develop these projects into leading Textiles hubs of India. Main features of this package are:-
a.) Land free from all encumbrances;
b.) I nfrastructure being developed under the PPP mode
c.) I nfrastructure like access roads, power substations, Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) supported by the State Government.
d.) Fiscal incentives to each unit set up in these Parks, such as capital investment subsidy, interest subsidy, power tariff subsidy, exemption of stamp duty, reimbursement of VAT, reimbursement of electricity duty, Entry Tax concession, etc. as per the Textile Policy stated above.
e.) Additional fiscal incentives on export of technical textiles
f.) Exclusive single window, timebound statutory clearances in advance for each unit to be set up in these Parks Expected Project Development Cost in next 5 years is Rs. 10,000 crore
PS:What is the vision of West Bengal in terms of growing its apparel and textile sector?
Meghnad De:-Within next 5 years, the expected investment in Apparel & Textiles Sector of West Bengal will be around Rs.30,000 crore and 6 lakh direct and indirect employment will be generated.
PS:Is West Bengal also planning to come up with next textile policy like neighboring states have done in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. If yes can you share some areas?
Meghnad De:-If any new incentive/ facility is to be offered, that will be included in next Textiles Policy after expiry of the current one.
PS:Currently what is the size of West Bengal textile and apparel sector and how much growth is expected in the next few years?
Meghnad De:-Indian Textile and Apparel industry has an estimated size of USD 131 billion (in 2016), i.e. INR 8.5 lakh crore whereas size of West Bengal T&A industry is INR 42 Thousand crore ( i.e., around 5 % of national turnover). It has potential to grow CAGR 11% in next 5 years.