FROM THE EDI­TOR-IN-CHIEF’s DESK…

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Why have as­so­ci­a­tions soft­ened their stand on Min­istry role?

With gen­eral elec­tions just around the cor­ner and the fo­cus of the rul­ing party on pre­par­ing for the same, it seems that ac­tiv­i­ties around the tex­tile and ap­parel in­dus­try have slowed down. No new ini­tia­tive has been an­nounced, nor do we hear of any del­e­ga­tion from any as­so­ci­a­tion vis­it­ing the Min­istry to dis­cuss the in­dus­try… A gen­tle calm has de­scended on the flurry of ac­tiv­i­ties that are gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with the Tex­tile Min­istry. Only six months ago, all as­so­ci­a­tions were com­ing out, all guns blaz­ing and ac­cus­ing the Min­istry for not do­ing enough for the in­dus­try… But now for some rea­son, the tone and tenor of the same as­so­ci­a­tions are soft and al­most apolo­getic!

It is not as if they have for­got­ten the hard­ships. All as­so­ci­a­tions ad­mit that the in­dus­try has passed through one of the most dif­fi­cult phases in its his­tory and pulling out from the chaos cre­ated by many fac­tors in­clud­ing Gov­ern­ment pol­icy changes, has been dif­fi­cult. But when ques­tioned on var­i­ous is­sues, the stan­dard re­ply to­day is that the Tex­tile Min­is­ter and her team tried sin­cerely to sup­port the in­dus­try, but there are other com­pul­sions and we need to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate these com­pul­sions.

So, what has changed… Have the re­al­i­ties changed? Has the in­dus­try got back on its feat, or has the Min­istry cracked down strongly on the as­so­ci­a­tions to reign in their crit­i­cism, at least un­til the elec­tions are over? Frankly, very lit­tle has changed on the ground… yes, re­funds have started com­ing in, but not for all and the process is so te­dious that the smaller ex­porters are fac­ing a re­ally tough time… One ex­porter, I met re­cently, cribbed about how he was not con­cen­trat­ing on run­ning his busi­ness and get­ting or­ders, but rather on fill­ing up the forms to get re­funds and other ben­e­fits.

Also, it can­not be de­nied that ma­jor­ity of play­ers in the in­dus­try are still strug­gling to keep fac­to­ries run­ning, and all sorts of com­pro­mises are be­ing made right from pick­ing up or­ders with­out prof­its to work­ing with new buy­ers with­out ver­i­fi­ca­tion, just to keep work­ers en­gaged. Of course, the weak­en­ing of the ru­pee has been the mes­siah, com­ing at the right time as far as the ex­port in­dus­try is con­cerned to give a com­pet­i­tive edge to the in­dus­try in its core cat­e­gories, in par­tic­u­lar.

Many ex­porters dis­pute the claim that the in­dus­try has ben­e­fited from the cur­rency de­val­u­a­tion, while few oth­ers ad­mit that the same has been a respite.

The gen­eral feed­back is that the buy­ers are smart busi­ness­men and they fully un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions of the fluc­tu­at­ing cur­rency and are openly ask­ing that a cer­tain per­cent­age of the ben­e­fit ac­crued by the de­val­u­a­tion, be pushed in their di­rec­tion. How­ever, not all buy­ers are the same and many reg­u­lar buy­ers have sup­ported the in­dus­try in these dif­fi­cult times and am­i­ca­bly worked around the prices so that their pre­ferred sup­pli­ers could with­stand the heat. Noth­ing re­mains the same and the in­dus­try has shown its re­silience many times in the past… The real ques­tion to­day, is whether the Min­istry will come out in open sup­port, keep­ing all its prom­ises made, once the elec­tions are over...? It’s any­body’s guess!

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