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Job Creation and Inclusive Growth

"For India, the demographic dividend and the growing workforce have put the issue of job-creation on centre stage. The textile and apparel industry, with its high employment elasticity, holds immense scope for absorbing a large chunk of the rising Indian workforce. Taking advantage of the unique position of India to steer away from the recession-ridden world economy, the government has delivered a special package for the apparel and garment industry and has also placed a renewed thrust on skilling – to create jobs. These initiatives, along with other textiles sector policies, are aimed at higher growth, higher exports, higher job creation and greater social mobility. Amid a gloomy world economic scenario and a darkening global mood, India has been among the few spots of sunshine with an over 7 per cent rate of growth in recent years. Yet, there has been some understandable anxiety on the need to create jobs to match the increasing workforce in the country. Throughout the history of the modern world, policy makers have relied on the textiles sector to generate jobs and advance their economies. In the recent months, India too has accorded an exclusive status to this sector for attaining its national objectives. As the present day world is working its way to altering the pervading economic pessimism, India has already poised itself for the next spell of high growth with the textile and apparel sector right in the centre of its key focus areas. Revival of Indian Textiles For several centuries, India was a major producer and exporter of cotton textiles and silk goods because of its core strengths in traditional segments. But India’s leading position in textiles suffered during the colonial rule owing to policies imposed by the British. Post-independence, the textile industry proved to be a mainstay for millions of rural families and also to thousands of workers who migrated to work in modern textile factories. With the opening up of the Indian economy in the early 90s, and with the Government’s special focus on textiles, the Indian textile industry once again entered into a growth phase. Due to rising costs of manufacturing in USA and Europe, Asian countries including India, with their availability of abundant and cheap manpower, vast natural resources and favorable economic policies have emerged as the most attractive destination for manufacturing of textile products. The Indian textile industry holds inherent advantages of natural as well as manmade fibers and availability of employable manpower. Unlike Bangladesh and Vietnam which are solely dependent on export markets for sustenance of their sectors, India has a larger domestic consumption than exports. Leveraging its advantages, Indian has, over the years, emerged as the second largest exporter of textile and apparel in the world, with an exports value of US$ 40 billion, which is approximately 5 per cent of the global trade. The textiles sector contributes about 2 per cent to the country’s US$ 2.3 trillion GDP, and is the second largest employer after agriculture. It contributes 10 per cent to industrial production and 13 per cent to the country’s overall exports. India’s Demographic Dividend With a population of approximately 1.28 billion people, India is the second most populated country in the world. Almost 66 per cent of India’s population – approximately 850 million is of working age at present. The number is likely to increase by 169 million by the end of 2030. This demographic dividend will allow Indian to successfully emerge as a manufacturer of labour intensive products such as textile and apparel in the foreseeable future. For reaping the rewards of the demographic dividend, Indian has to create jobs at the rate of a million jobs per month. India has to, therefore, grow at a rate of 8 to 10 per cent per year; and the model of growth has to be inclusive with an absolute focus on job creation. Employment Potential The textiles sector holds a significant value and potential from the perspective of employment generation. The sector currently employs more than 5crore people directly and another 6.7crores in the allied sectors like cotton and jute farming, sheep rearing, textile machinery, etc. As a thumb rule, it is presumed that for an investment of Rs. 1crore in a fully integrated textile and apparel manufacturing set-up, 30 jobs are created while for apparel manufacturing alone 70 jobs are created for every 1crore investment. As a matter of fact, the All India Textile and Garment Industry Survey of 2011-12 put the employment per crore rupees of investment figure for non-SSI garment units between 68 and 169. Unmistakably, the textiles sector is nonpareil when it comes to value for money (read investment) in the sphere of employment generation. Inclusive Growth Aside its job creation role, this sector is also seamlessly aligned with Government initiatives on women empowerment. It is estimated that women constitute about 70 per cent of the workforce in the apparel sector. The sector also provides job opportunities to millions in the under privileged sections of the society by giving them a means of stable income and an opportunity to raise their standard of living. Hence, for a country like India, the importance of the textiles sector for employment creation is unrivalled. A majority of the Indian population resides in rural parts of India where people do not have access to quality education and other basic facilities. As entry level job roles in the textiles sector in general do not require people with high technical skills or educational background, a person form rural India, can become employable in the textiles sector with a nominal training of 3 to 4 weeks only. Structural Shifts in Global Industry China has been the undisputed leader in global trade over the last three decades. In the textiles and apparel segment especially, China has maintained a dominant share of over 40 per cent over the last twenty years. After the economic crisis of 2009, China’s growth in the trade has slowed down from an average 15 per cent to around 4 per cent in 2014. This trend is expected to continue further in the future also. Currently, China is vacating the global export market due to high wages and shift in focus to the domestic market. India stands a good chance to capture a mammoth share of the space ceded by China in global textile and apparel trade leveraging its raw material and manpower advantage. Textile Market Growth Projections The expected high growth in exports apart, the increase in disposable income of consumers and their increasing propensity to spend on clothing items have been driving a double digit growth of the domestic market. Based on the emerging global and domestic market trends, it is expected that the Indian textile and apparel market will grow from current level of US$ 119 bn. to US$ 400 bn. by 2025-26. Creation and Inclusive Growth: Strategies Taking into consideration the unmatched potential for job creation in the textiles sector and the opportunities emerging in the global market, the Government has formulated a strategy to foster growth and create a large number of jobs in the textile and apparel sector. In addition to the existing schemes which focus on technology up-gradation, infrastructure creation, and strengthening of traditional segments, the Government has given a special thrust to skill development. In order to make the Indian apparel sector competitive, a special package for the Garmenting Sector has been released which is aimed at removing the existing restrictions on productivity and also at incentivizing job creation and exports. Skilling People: Creating an Enabling Environment Job creation requires high growth in the coming years. To attain this growth, large scale investment in manufacturing will be required. This, in turn, will increase the demand of skilled labour for this sector. To fulfill the demand of skilled labour, a lot of focus has been given to skill development initiatives in the country. For the textiles sector, the Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDS) for development of skilled workforce in this sector has been operational, which leverage the expertise and reach of existing textile training institutions and also invites private sector participation and participation of State Government agencies. As on 1st September 2016, 7.7 lakh workers have been trained under ISDS out of which 5.06 (66 per cent) have been absorbed in the industry. The total target under ISDS is to train 15 lakh workers by FY 2016-17. Furthermore, skilling in the unorganized sector is promoted under Handloom Sector and Handicrafts Sector schemes of Government of India. Also, under the Skill India mission, an effective and elaborate training framework has been implemented recently. For the textile and apparel sector, two sector skill councils viz., Textiles Sector Skill council and Apparel, Made-ups & Home Furnishing Sector Skill Council have been formed. Special Package for the Garmenting Sector The garmenting industry, which holds immense potential for job creation, has been beset with several inhibiting factors which included unequal access to global markets, relatively higher wage costs, restrictive labour regulation impending productivity, inadequate incentives for investments and exports, etc. to break the shackles and to spur growth in the garmenting industry, the Government has delivered a special package for improving the competitiveness of the Indian garmenting sector. The recently approved package includes additional drawback for garment exports, labour reforms like introduction of fixed term employment, increase in overtime limit and easing of Section 80 JJAA of Income Tax act to support employment in the garmenting sector. The Government will also now bear the entire 12 per cent of employer’s Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contribution for all the new employees for the first three years. The provision of employees; contribution to EPF has been made optional for those earning less than 15,000 per month which will lead to more cash in hand with the workers. The introduction of fixed term employment will help increase the labour supply and employability in the garment sector during the peak season of the industry. A fixed term workman will be considered at par with permanent workman in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and statutory dues. The overtime cap per quarter has also been raised form 50 hours to 100 hours which will lead to increased earnings for the workers. The new package for the garment sector is expected to generate over 1 crore jobs in this sector over a three-year period. Conclusion The anticipated upsurge in employment and the creation of skilled man-power base will attract large scale investments, both domestic as well as FDI, in the textiles sector and will serve to attain the vision of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of making India a global manufacturing hub. During the inaugural lecture of the Transforming India Lecture Series, Shri Tharman Shanmuguratnam, Deputy Prime Minister, Singapore mentioned that “India is uniquely poised for re-casting the negative narrative and the pessimism pervading in the global economy…by focusing on social mobility, by focusing on long term goals and by investing in social and human capital”. Through its recent initiatives in the Textile and Apparel Sector, the Indian Government has opened a new narrative – a narrative of optimism, of enhancing exports, of job creation, and of consequent social transformation.  "