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Textile Industry & Employment generation for Tripura
Dr S.K.Panda Union Textiles Secretary
Textile Industry & Employment generation for Tripura
PHOTO : Dr S.K.Panda at National 61st National Garment Fair, India's largest fair. TIWN File Photo

In my view, provision of livelihood and employment opportunity is of critical importance for development of any state or country and the youth in particular. With the consumerism led advertisement, expectations of the youth have been increasing at a fast rate.

All out efforts are being made for meeting this by exploiting available opportunities as well as exploring new avenues.  These issues are more relevant for the North Eastern States including Tripura, which have to face difficulties on account of geographical isolation, lack of physical infrastructure, incidence of poverty, lack of adequate financial resources etc.

Out of the three basic needs of mankind, “Roti (food), Kapada(cloth) and Makhan (shelter)”, textile industry provides  the clothing needs.  Simultaneously this industry contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (14%), exports (13%) and provides employment to crores of people at the National level.

          Textile industry has two broad segments, the unorganised sector comprising of handlooms, handicrafts, sericulture, wool, jute, etc., and the organised sector comprising of spinning, weaving, processing, fashion, apparel & garments, technical textiles etc.

The unorganised sector covers a wide range of products made by hand with traditional skills in the rural area.  However it faces constraints in competing with the similar products made by machines due to higher wage component.   

Promotion of handloom/handicraft industries of Tripura has potential for generation of employment on a large scale and women in particular.  For the purpose, the strategy for development is required to be designed suitably keeping in view the following:

  • In rural areas, the level of literacy and education have improved dramatically in the past decade with almost every women being literate and every family having at least one person with  secondary/higher secondary and above level education.
  • Development of Information Technology(IT) based interventions like mobile phone, internet based banking etc., have made it possible for the producers in the rural areas to directly interact with customers in the metropolis like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, etc.,  as well as abroad in Paris, New York, London, etc.
  • With the broad gauge railway line likely to link Agartala by 2016, the infrastructure bottlenecks will be overcome to a considerable extent.
  • Export of Indian handicrafts in 2014-15 (Rs. 28,000 crores for handicraft items and Rs. 7,000 crore for handmade carpets, total about Rs. 35,000 crores) saw a growth of about 18% over the previous year.  This trend is likely to continue in the coming years as developed countries like USA and European Union will require handmade products and India has the young population for making it.
  • In Tripura, marketing of handloom/handicraft products is being mainly dealt by public sector undertaking namely Tripura Handloom & Handicraft Development Corporation, which has several inherent limitations. This is the case with almost all other states.

 With a view to overcome this, efforts have been made for directly linking the producers with the market and assisting the producers covering four specific areas –

  1. Design development and training.
  2. Assistance to artisan
  3. Setting up of Common Facility Centre at block level.
  4. Marketing with involvement of the exporters/ bulk   buyers.

The ongoing schemes of the Ministry of Textiles have been revised to promote and assist weavers/artisans at block level clusters. Each cluster will be provided funding support up to Rs. 2 crore for (i) Assistance for design development and training (ii) Direct online assistance to weavers/artisans for acquisition of looms/accessories. (iii) setting up of a Common Facility Centre with godown, office with internet, facility for training and bulk processing and a rest room (iv) Assistance for marketing. The Common Facility Centre to be set up (at block level), will be managed by a Society of the Primary producers or weaver/artisan entrepreneur.  Weavers’ Service Centre under Development Commissioner (Handlooms), Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) and the State Department officers are being geared up for providing requisite technical guidance to the primary producers for producing goods with quality and new design.  So far as marketing is concerned, in addition to sale in sales outlet and exhibition, e-commerce based initiatives will be promoted on a larger scale for reducing the cost of transaction and increasing earning of the primary producers.

The major challenge therefore lies in encouraging the primary producers to produce goods with quality as per the market requirements based on “low margin-high turnover” approach. Sometime back, a project was undertaken for promotion of handloom/handicraft products of Tripura on a commercial scale through Ms. Chelna Desai, an eminent  Mumbai based designer. The products developed were good but this could be not be sustained mainly on account of lack of production base. Based on this experience, women Self Help Group set up under the scheme of the department Rural Development under the livelihood mission needs to be supported by providing them linkage with the market along with the assistance as indicated above. 

Action has been initiated for revamping the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute, Agartala under the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) with construction of hostel, installation of additional machinery along with a corpus fund for meeting recurring expenses. This would be managed through a society with representatives of each of the eight North-eastern States in the Management Committee.

As a part of linking promotion of handloom and  handicraft with tourism, the State Government has been requested for submitting proposal for construction of Wayside amenities, guidelines for which was issued jointly by the Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Tourism in January 2015.  Such wayside amenities can be developed around Sipahijala, on way to the major places of tourist attraction at  Matabari, Udaipur  and Lake Palace at NeerMahal, which will have facility for tourist, sale of eatable local cuisine, handloom/handicraft products as well as exhibition of local folk artist dances, etc., on a holistic basis. This will generate employment potential in the service sector. On similar lines, the infrastructure in the Sales Counter developed in Purbasa Complex  at Agartala  under the Urban Haat scheme can be further developed by providing a cover (as done in front of Durgabadi) so that handloom/handicraft sale and facilities for tourist can be provided through out the year even during the summer and rainy season.

Artisans engaged in pottery making may be assisted for producing quality product with new design as per market demand on similar lines as done by artisan in  Khurja, Bulandshar District,  Uttar Pradesh. Five artisans from Tripura have visited Kurja, Bulandshahar district in Uttar Pradesh recently and a detailed project report has been sent to the state Government.  Proposal with relevant details on provision of land and other required support may be sent by State Government for sanction of assistance for a modern pottery unit.

Jute produced in the state can be processed by mobilising women group for production of diversified high value jute products, which will generate employment and also solve the problems in marketing to a considerable extent, as started recently at Barpeta in Assam. Similarly Women self Help Groups can be trained on production of chickankari embroidery work as done in Lucknow, which has got good demand within and outside the country. 

In the field of sericulture, Tripura has achieved remarkable success in production of quality bivoltine mulberry silk by mobilising women belonging to scheduled tribes and generation of productive employment on a “Soil to Silk” model. This has been possible as a result of concerted efforts made in the last two decades, which has set an example in production of best quality bivoltine silk in  the non-traditional states, where mulberry sericulture is relatively new.  Officers and silk rearers from other states are being advised to visit Tripura for getting a first hand knowledge about the strategy adopted and action taken for success of this venture. New sericulture projects have been sanctioned for Tripura in August 2015.

Following production of quality silk in bulk and limited weaving capacity, silk weaving on powerloom was started in Tripura.  However, as there was no processing and printing facility, the woven silk fabrics were being sent to Kolkata for processing and printing.  With a view to overcome this, financial assistance for setting up a modern silk printing unit was sanctioned in May 2015.  

In the organised textile industry, Spinning, Weaving, Processing segments  are highly capital intensive in nature and require infrastructure, power supply, resourceful entrepreneurs, skilled manpower, raw material, local markets etc.  In the initial stage, it will be difficult to set up such industries in a landlocked state like Tripura. However, setting up of apparel and garment making unit will be  feasible. This segment has the special advantage of being highly employment intensive with an investment as Rs. 1 crore generating employment for about 18 persons throughout the year. Further apparel and garments making is meaningful in employment of relatively less educated and particularly women, as the production activities are done indoor and not strenuous.   In this context, it is noteworthy that at present global share of India in Apparel & Garment export is only 3.8% whereas share of Bangladesh, Vietnam and Sri Lanka is much higher.  There is huge scope for expansion of this segment.  Young girls from the North Eastern States, after training in apparel and garment making, are working in the production units at Bangalore, Gurgaon and Noida etc outside the region.  Keeping in view this potential, setting up of Apparel and Garment Centre in each of eight North Eastern States was announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister on the 1st December, 2014.  Details on this was finalised by the Ministry of Textiles on top priority and the construction work was started. The centre, with three units of 100 sewing machines each with an outlay of Rs. 18.18 crore, would provide employment to about 1,500 persons.  National Building Construction Corporation Ltd., has been entrusted the job of construction of the building as well as supply, installation and commissioning of the machineries.

 This facility can be used for providing quality training as well as for commercial scale production as per the requirement of (i) uniformed services in the Military, para-military and Government (ii) for converting local hand woven fabrics into fashion garments and (iii) taking up production for expects in due course.  The Clothing Manufacturing Association of India (CMAI) and Apparel Export Promotion Council have been requested for persuading their members for running these units for production of garment on commercial scale, to which they have shown interest.  This is required to be pursued for finalising arrangements for producing readymade garments with quality as per demand in the domestic and export markets  in a commercially viable manner.

Based on this experience, proposals with details of availability of land, infrastructure, etc., have been invited for setting up of smaller units with 50 machines at the District Headquarters, will provide quality infrastructure for  skilling the youth for the Apparel & Garment industry.

Technical textile, a special category of functional textile, is a sun-rise sector with vast potential.  Out of the 12 categories of technical textiles, use of technical textiles in agriculture and on earth surface popularly known as agro-tech and geo-tech has been proven potential in formation of road, stabilisation of hill slopes and lining of water bodies, which reduces recurring expenditure and ensure longer life span for the project.  A new scheme with an outlay of Rs. 427 crore has been launched for popularising geo-textiles in the North East.  This innovative work can be taken up with road projects sanctioned under PMGSY, NLCPR, and other schemes by availing assistance under this scheme.   Similarly use of technical textile  in agriculture, popularly known as agro tech, for mulching (which would  reduce evaporation and optimise use  of available water) and other similar purposes can facilitate protection to crop and production of off season vegetable.  Use of such technology, which is very popular abroad, has the potential to  increase productivity, quality of agricultural products and return to the farmers.

Assistance under Textile Parks can be availed by the State Government with provision of required land and mobilisation of private entrepreneurs for setting up textile units including apparel and garment units in due course. Similarly assistance admissible under the scheme for provision of skill (Integrated Skill Development Scheme), can be availed for skilling the youth.    

In the recent decades, achievements of Tripura have attracted attention at the national level for good governance, democratic decentralisation, control over insurgency, literacy, voluntary blood donation etc.  However, development is not a fixed milepost but a journey.  In this context, exploiting the potential in the textile sector, as discussed above, can boost the  economic development of the State in general and providing gainful employment to the youth in particular, which will make the development participative and inclusiveSabka Saath- Sabka Vikash”.

Written by Dr S K Panda IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India.

Dr Panda worked as the Chief Secretary Tripura from May 2010 to July 2014 and has a doctorate in Economics for his study on the potential of mulberry sericulture in Empowerment of Tribal women in Tripura, .a publication and a film “Soil to Silk” on the subject in You-tube:


Views expressed are personal.

Details of the scheme of the Ministry of Textiles indicated in the write-up are available in the website of the Ministry. (

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