The Union Textiles Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani inaugurated the 1st North East Investors’ Summit, organized jointly by the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of DoNER, at the State Convention Centre, in Shillong today. In her inaugural address, the Textiles Minister said that the huge participation in the summit showed not only the trust and belief in the investment opportunities in the North Eastern Region, but also the investors’ belief that the cooperation among the Government of India and Governments of North Eastern states will result in exponential multi-sectoral growth in the region. Thanking the Government of Meghalaya for the successful conduct of the summit, the Minister said that the participation of nearly sixty top export houses of the country is a testimony to Government of India’s belief in the potential of the region.
The Summit is being organized exclusively for the North Eastern Region, focusing on manufacturing in textiles and allied sectors; and to showcase the region as a global destination for investment and explore the possibility of convergence of efforts of various central Ministries and North Eastern States in attracting investment into the region. The Summit was also attended by Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog Dr. Arvind Panagariya; Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Dr Mukul Sangma; Union Minister of State (I/C), DoNER and Chairman, NEC Dr. Jitendra Singh; Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju; Minister for Textiles, Government of Assam, Shri Ranjit Dutta; Minister for Industries, Governement of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Tamiyo Taga; Minister for Industries, Government of Mizoram, Shri H. Rohluna; and representatives from all eight North Eastern States and investors from across the country.
On the occasion, the Union Textiles Minister launched ‘India Handmade Bazaar’, an online portal, which will provide direct market access facility to handloom weavers & handicraft artisans. The portal will facilitate weavers & artisans to enter information about their products for easy understanding of customers/exporters. Weavers and artisans will be able to access the portal through their mobile number registered with Office of Development Commissioner. The mobile number can be registered by visiting nearest Weavers’ Service Centre & Marketing Centre as well. Buyers can view the products online and directly contact weaver/artisan to enquire or place an order.
Nearly 20 MoUs were signed on the occasion, to develop & promote NER handicrafts, handlooms, agro-textiles & geo-textiles. Various MoUs were signed to promote collaboration in the textiles sector, in each of the various states in the region.
The Union Textiles Minister said that this is the first ever North East Investors Summit dedicated to the textiles sector, in the history of our country. She said that the wide participation of export houses, councils and investors would ensure that support is given to local industries across the North Eastern Region, in marketing facilities, technical guidance, design intervention and also in areas that require expertise, especially in relation to exports. Smt. Irani also expressed her happiness in seeing the support for handlooms and handicrafts, which she said is a legacy of the North Eastern Region. She said that the participation of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, DoNER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh and MoS, Home, Shri Kiren Rijiju is itself an exhibition of the commitment of the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi towards the ‘Act East Policy’. She said that there is definite movement on the ground, to ensure that the Prime Minister’s vision for the development of the North Eastern Region is implemented wholeheartedly.
Smt. Irani said in her address that twenty major railway projects specifically for the North East region, costing approximately 52 thousand crore rupees, have been taken up by the Government of India, to strengthen the infrastructure and investment opportunities in the region. She highlighted that around 715 development projects in the region are being executed, including tie-ups with countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and China through economic corridors, to ensure the success of the ‘Act East Policy’. The Minister said that the Ministry of Textiles alone has sanctioned projects worth more than Rs. 1,040 crore for the North Eastern Region. She said that textile promotion schemes of handloom, handicrafts, sericulture and garmenting are being implemented, so that the Central government can add to the efforts of the state governments in creating more employment opportunities.
The Union Textiles Minister thanked the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development in helping the government leverage its association with IITs, so that incubation and especially business opportunities through transmission of technology can be explored. The Minister appreciated the efforts of handloom designers and pointed out the uniqueness of products available in NER, giving an example of the organic carpet of Sikkim. The Minister informed that the Government of India is in a position to infuse Rs. 820 crore for supporting sericulture in the region; she said that this is estimated to impact around 3.95 lakh families, 70% of the resultant employment opportunities accruing to women.
The Minister informed the gathering that master craftsmen from the handloom sector will impart training to students across the various NIFT centres in the country, beginning from the coming academic session. She said this will enable the students to learn the legacy craft and imbibe this into contemporary fashion.
Informing about the initiatives taken by the Ministry for the welfare of handloom weavers, Smt. Irani spoke about about the E-Dhaga app and the ‘Bunkar Mitra’ helpline. She said that with E-Dhaga,subsidy is just a click away for the weavers. She said that the app, which enables handloom weavers to order and track their yarn, will be a boon for handloom weavers. This would enable them to transact business anytime, anywhere; weavers can send their indents and payments online through this app. The Minister added that on January 4, 2017 the Ministry launched ‘Bunkar Mitra’, the first ever helpline for handloom weavers. Available seven days a week, from 10 AM to 6 PM, the issues faced by weavers are addressed in a time-bound manner through the helpline. The Minister said that it is encouraging to note that more than 2,500 queries were registered within just one month.
Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Dr Arvind Panagariya said that the biggest problem India faces is lack of job opportunities, and that the sector which can generate the maximum job opportunities is the textile sector. He said that a lot is being done by the Government of India for the North East and that 10% of the textile budget is allocated to the North Eastern states. He said that North East has the potential to become a power-house for tourism, hydro-power and textile exports, thereby becoming the gateway to reach Southeast Asian countries.
Minister of State (I/C) for DoNER, Dr Jitendra Singh said that the Government of India is concerned about the exodus of youth from North Eastern states in search of quality education and livelihood, to other regions in the country and even abroad. Dr. Singh said that a summit of this kind will promote entrepreneurship through textiles and will also create enormous job opportunities in the region. Speaking on the potential of handlooms and handicrafts in the region, Dr. Singh said that North East is the reservoir of textiles, and that it houses nearly 60% of the entire handloom potential of the country. He informed that the Ministry of DoNER will provide initial Venture Capital Fund for start-ups in NER.
Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju complimented the efforts of the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of DoNER in promoting trade in the region and in preserving the age-old handlooms and handicrafts tradition of the North East.
Chief Minister of Meghalaya,, Dr. Mukul Sangma said that the Summit provides an opportunity to showcase the talents of the weavers and to better tap into available job avenues. He said that the Summit will create opportunities for the cultivators and weavers to fend for themselves and enable them to improve their livelihood. Noting that textiles industry is inter-connected with all sorts of activities and people, he said the summit will benefit people at the grassroots level.
Earlier, the Union Textiles Minister, Smti Smriti Zubin Irani, along with the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Dr. Mukul Sangma and Union MoS for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju inaugurated a Textiles Exhibition at State Convention Centre, Shillong.
The first day of the summit had focussed sessions on Showcasing Opportunities in Textiles in North East by Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of DoNER, Entrepreneurship Development and Start-ups and Enhancing Reach of North East Textiles through Textile Design and Marketing.