The Indian textile and apparel sector, a significant employment generator with nearly 45 million jobs, is facing a severe crisis. A study by the Textiles Committee highlights the sector's distress, marked by declining exports, stagnant wages, increased imports, and a substantial impact on employment.
Key Issues Highlighted:
1. Employment Impact: Between 2015 and 2020, the sector lost approximately 2.14 lakh jobs, as reported by the Textiles Committee.
2. Wage Stagnation and Incentive Loss: The slowdown has led to flat wages and reduced incentives, prompting many workers to seek employment elsewhere.
3. Varied Sectoral Impact: The degree of distress varies across different types of textiles (handloom, power loom, etc.), with no comprehensive study yet on the post-COVID-19 impact.
4. Calls for Government Intervention: Both factory owners and workers express a unanimous need for urgent governmental action.
Regional Accounts of Distress:
Tiruppur: Once bustling with job advertisements, now faces a stark reduction in demand, impacting workers' bonuses and job availability.
Palladam: Weavers like Velusamy face a drastic cut in operations and bonuses, leading to reduced employment opportunities.
Worker Exodus: Workers are migrating to other sectors or states in search of better opportunities and wages, as in the case of Sahajan from West Bengal.
Wider Impact on Allied Sectors:
The crisis extends to transporters, godown owners, and small-scale entrepreneurs, all witnessing a significant decline in earnings and business.
Data Scarcity: Difficulty in conducting comprehensive surveys, especially in the unorganized sector and rural areas.
Diverse Labour Profiles: Differences in labor conditions between the organized and unorganized sectors.
Global Competition: Indian exporters face challenges due to lower labor costs in other textile-exporting nations.
The Indian textile sector is grappling with multiple challenges, necessitating a combined effort from the government, industry stakeholders, and workers to revive this crucial sector of the Indian economy.