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Kalam aims to triple garment exports by 2010

India should aim to triple its garment exports to $18 billion by 2010 by empowering the handicrafts industry that brings in the bulk of the earnings, President A.P.J Abdul Kalam said here on December 12 2005.

India currently exports $6 billion dollars worth of garments, "whereas with the WTO (World Trade Organisation) regime in place, we should aim to enhance exports to over $18 billion by 2010", Kalam said in his address while presentting national awards to master craftsmen and weavers.

Noting that the handicrafts and handlooms industries alone contributed $4 billion in exports, he said they needed to be empowered to boost revenues.

"This will need intense collaboration between master weavers in the villages, NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), research associations, industrialists and the government," he maintained.

Kalam suggested a five-pronged strategy for this, including the creation of exclusive design centres that would draw from fashion design centres of the country.

He listed the other areas as developing the national market, elevating the skills of weavers and upgrading looms, creating an "India brand" for handloom products through a countrywide project, and ensuring availability of yarn at reasonable prices to the weavers.

"However, we have to see how we can empower our craftsmen and weavers such that they get interested in crafts work and specialized weaving work. That means we have to build capacity amongst artisans and handloom weavers through technology and training," the President said.

The potential of the handloom industry to provide employment for a large number of people and self-managed cooperative societies across the country was tremendous, Kalam said. "If the handloom cottage industry is properly empowered, it has a potential to become a remunerative employment generator."

Noting that the handloom industry provided jobs to 12 million people, he said: "By tripling the export of apparels, we can add more than five million direct jobs and seven million indirect jobs in allied sectors by diversifying the handloom sector into apparel and other usages such as bandage cloth.

"This will give employment potential particularly for some portion of the handloom weaving community and enrich the task in providing quality apparel to the national and international clientele."


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