Awards are a tacit recognition of the
fact that winning is not only about
success, but also constant effort and
determination. In the apparel industry,
it is even greater as the industry is
usually a roller coaster ride where no
one knows what would happen next.
Over the years the apparel industry
of India has grown but not at the
pace it should have. Countries which
joined the race of apparel exporters
much later than India are enjoying a
prominent position and larger share
in apparel exports, whereas India is,
regrettably, only sliding downwards.
While on the one
disapprove the fact that the
apparel industry is the biggest
employment generator and a
good source of foreign exchange,
on the other not enough is being
done from their end to create
and implement policies which
can act as catalyst and increase
the pace of growth. A recent article in one of the
main line news journals has
recently given a fantastic
example of how apparel industry
can give wings to India’s
employment if taken seriously.
The article highlights a
comparison between India’s
biggest company Reliance India
generation capacity with that of
India’s biggest apparel exporter,
The RIL reports $110 billion in assets and 250,000 employees across its various ventures. Therefore, it employs five workers for each $2.2 million in assets. Shahi Exports, however, has assets worth $185 million and employs 106,000 workers in its apparel factories. Therefore, it employs 1,260 workers for every $2.2 million in assets. For the same investment of $2.2 million, Shahi Exports creates 252 times the jobs that RIL does. The difference is huge and the Government must pull off its blinkers, see and accept it. 30 years back, China was indisputably small in garment exports; it rose to become the behemoth of today and other sectors across the world now depend on it. The apparel industry was given constant support from the Government when it was needed the most. Similarly, Bangladesh, which was actually making garments to serve India, went on to become one of the largest suppliers of garments to the world. The size, scale, labour, or polices all are in favour of the trade in that country. Issues like strikes, compliance, wages, etc., were all resolved so that the pace of growth could be increased. Even countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar have joined the race and are heading fast towards growth and development.
Even so, things can change. In 2015, the global apparel export market was $465 billion. India exported $18 billion of it compared with China’s $175 billion. High wages are now forcing China to withdraw from this market. From $187 billion in 2014, its apparel exports have fallen to $158 billion in 2016. India must take the space China is vacating. Even though there are opportunities, the industry is not able to encash the same because of low confidence.
Infrastructure, customs clearance, import duties on fabrics and machinery, age old labour reforms, constant change in currency rates all lead to one point: slow pace of business. While there are some factors which are beyond the Government ‘s control, like productivity, what can be worked upon are labour polices to safeguard both export and worker. Other area where immediate attention should be diverted towards are new alliances or FTA ‘s with countries like the US, the UK and the other EU nations. These FTA‘s will help a lot in increasing exports to all these countries and will assist India in reviving its position in garment exports. Today, the biggest problem of the industry is that the current state of exports has discouraged not only new entrants to the trade but also the second or third generation of garment exporters. The stress, anxiety, insecurity and constant fear of losing out is pushing apparel exporters to restrain their next generations from joining the business. This is the biggest threat to the industry as these youngsters are tomorrow‘s future and if they do not take it forward, the industry will definitely lose its identity. In this issue, we bring to you success stories and strategies of exporters who, despite all odds, are going strong and defying the odds. Whether it is Shahi Exports which is creating examples and crossing milestones for many years in all areas be it quality, volumes, expertise or finance, they have made India proud. Sudhir Dhingra, CMD, Orient Craft Limited is another visionary who started his career in the industry at a very young age is an inspiration for many people. His passion and determination is a legacy for anyone or everyone who is a part of apparel trade in some manner. Given that youngsters are not overly keen to join the trade, consider the case of Shreyaskar Chaudhary, MD, Pratibha Syntex, who has changed all the rules. He has proved that age is just a number and it only needs vision and focus to move on and succeed at every step. A textile major company, Pratibha has not just made a mark in textiles, fabric and garment manufacturing but also in contributing and giving back to the underprivileged. Tirupur based Eastman Exports is a consistent player that has grown to become India’s largest exporter of knitted garments. Driven by enthusiasm and passion to excel, Founder N Chandran has not left any stone unturned to create the best of garments for its clients all over the world.
Shahi Exports, however, has assets worth $185 million and employs 106,000 workers in its apparel factories. Therefore, it employs 1,260 workers for every $2.2 million in assets. For the same investment of $2.2 million, Shahi Exports creates 252 times the jobs that RIL does.