Agenda for India: Textile and Fashion Industry presents “Agenda for India”. Series editor is Charu Bahri.

According to Aboobacker Siddique Moosa, Founder of Wahid Exports, a leading fabric and clothing manufacturer in south India, “The greatest challenge facing the textile and fashion industry is labor.”

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“Since this is a labor intensive sector, owners of factories are always looking for ways to retain and recruit skilled labor to meet the needs of a growing industry. I believe that the government should expand the training facilities in smaller towns, so that a greater number of people are drawn to train for the textile industry. The government should involve industry representatives in this process so that these training facilities are up-to-date. Another area that the government should look into is the creation of mass low cost housing, since this would lower the outlay of the industry on living expenses, which forms a major component of the cost of labor. At present, textile companies in Bangladesh fare better than their counterparts in India as the country boasts of a plentiful supply of cheap labor.”

“Another major factor affecting the textile industry, and indeed, every industry, is the shortage and cost of power. The output of the power sector has almost always fallen short of demand. This affects the productivity of every industry, as well as causes delays. In our trade, a delay translates into an air shipment instead of sea shipment, or the cancellation of a shipment if it is already contracted for air shipment. When it comes to the issue of power supply, the Indian textile industry is much worse off than its competitors in Sri Lanka.”

“In order to overcome this problem, the government should look into power management on a long-term basis. Power is one area which affects the GDP of our country and frankly speaking, it has not been given due importance. The government lacks a long-term vision. Five year proposals are made, but by the time the projects are completed, five years have passed and the demand has risen!”

“The government should think keep a longer timeframe in mind when planning infrastructure projects, say 10 to 15 years from the present. As an example, Chennai is finally getting a metro rail, which I believe was desperately needed even four years ago. Instead of a metro rail, the government invested in an overhead mass rapid transit system, which proved to be unviable and is not used by the public. I feel that inducting younger bureaucrats to head critical portfolios would be very helpful. The power industry needs a Dayanithi Maran to transform it as he did the telecommunications sector.”

“The third major challenge facing our industry is overall infrastructure. Although India has come a long way in providing the required infrastructure over the last decade, it still lags behind developing countries like China and even smaller countries like Sri Lanka. It is internationally recognized that infrastructure and now, security, are the best marketing tools for any country. We too need better roads, faster approvals, good airports, and so on.”

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