India’s textile sector is undergoing a long overdue restyling, writes India Inc. Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa.

The Indian textiles industry is a $100-billion giant, which employs about 50 million people, making it the country’s largest employer in the organised sector. It is also one of the largest contributors to the export trade, accounting for nearly 15 per cent of India’s total exports. This 5,000 year old industry is arguably also the oldest in the world. So, it might appear a bit strange for me to then call this moulting giant a sunrise sector until you realise that the headline figures, as impressive as they are, merely scratch the surface of its untapped potential.

The Indian textile sector already has all the ingredients necessary for global leadership: abundant raw material both natural and man made talented and relatively cost-effective labour, world class design talent and an entrepreneurial class with astute business acumen.

The one key input that this sector lacked so far was sufficient governmental support in the form of freedom from bureaucratic red tape and official zeal to push ahead of all players.

With an ambitious minister like Smriti Irani now in charge of the ministry and the full support of a ‘can-do-will-do’ Indian Prime Minister, that last requirement is now no longer a constraint.

The opportunities are massive. India has a minuscule sub-four per cent share in readymade gar-ments. This is the segment where the maximum value can be captured. It’s also the segment in which India lags behind countries such as China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines. There is no reason for this status quo to continue, and I’m glad to see that the Indian government is actively collaborating with the industry to fix the situation.

After decades of gathering dust in the proverbial closet, the textiles sector is witnessing a rejuve-nation.

Global majors such as Zara, Benetton, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, H&M, as well as Indian majors such as the Aditya Birla Group, Raymond and Bombay Dyeing are investing billions of dollars on both the front and back ends of their operations, to use India both as a sourcing base as well as a market for their products.

Wages are rising in China, diminishing the competitive edge of its producers, many of whom are contract robbers for large Western buyers. These American and European principals, as well as many Chinese companies, are now looking for other destinations to move their factories. It is the perfect opportunity for India to step up its game and capitalise on this shift in the global market. And there is every indication that the Indian industry, with the proactive support of the Narendra Modi government, is working towards doing so.

India is the largest producer of cotton and jute, and the second-largest producer of both silk and man-made fibres in the world. Its large pool of talented workers, abundant local sourcing oppor-tunities for the wide range of materials and the thousands of design school graduates mean India can easily achieve the required dramatic ramp up in capacity. The nearly $1billion Textile Policy unveiled recently aims to facilitate precisely this transition.

The textile sector, which is highly labour intensive, has a huge job potential and can generate mil-lions of low, medium and high skilled jobs for the large battery of young Indians who enter the In-dian employment market every month. The latter being a useful resource, with more and more Indian designers from Dhruv Kapoor and Soham Dave to industry names like Ritu Kumar and Sa-bhyasachi Mukherji taking on a revivalist approach to Indian textiles and fabrics. India’s National Institute of Fashion Design would do well to extend this heritage approach towards training future designers. It is a little-known fact that ancient Rome yes, the fabled Roman Empire had to im-pose a partial embargo on imports of Indian textiles because Indian merchants were taking away a disproportionate amount of Roman gold, creating major problems for the Roman economy.

Such was the draw and value of Indian textiles in an earlier age.

The current shifts in the global market mean the entire western market, as well as those in Africa, South America and the Far East, could be up for grabs. If Irani and her team works closer with In-dia’s Commerce Ministry to explore ways in which to boost exports, especially in Africa, with a major focus on job creation, this market or at least a part of it could easily fall into India’s lap.

The next few years should be an interesting time for Irani, and if she and her team can pull this transition off, they might just restore the historical status Indian textiles once enjoyed in the world.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

Having attracted the most investments in 2016, Karnataka is already a favorite with investors but blessed with rich minerals and abundant skilled manpower, there is still a lot of untapped potential.

The year 2016 was a landmark one for Karnataka. As per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), during the year the proposed investments in the state saw a massive five-fold jump from Rs 31,668 crore ($4.8bn) in 2015 to Rs 1,54,173 crore ($23bn).

With its tremendous untapped potential, Karnataka is an appealing locus for French companies.

France and India have always been very close. The ties between our two countries have nevertheless been strengthened over the years: whether it be culture, defence, the economy, education, politics or science, our relationship has now grown into a full-scale partnership. While our bilateral trade in goods is expected to come near the $10 billion mark this year (€8.6 billion in 2016), it bears reminding that our trade in services has also thrived, with France’s exports and imports to and from India reaching about €1.4 billion and €1.8 billion, respectively.

A favourable regulatory environment and attractive asset valuations are enhancing investor confidence by changing the perception of Indian realty in the global arena, a new official report reveals.

The Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI), the apex body for private real estate developers in India representing 11,940 developers across 23 states and 171 city chapters across the country, held its annual national convention (NATCON) in London recently to project the sector’s increasingly investor-friendly image.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, as the minister in charge of India’s Ministry of Food Process Industries, has been on a worldwide mission to attract investors to the country’s $915bn farm-to-fork ecosystem. During a recent visit to London, ‘India Investment Journal’ was given an insight into her plans for India’s first-ever World Food India summit this year.

What is the investment update since your last visit to the UK?

From our last meeting, all the big retail chains were hoping for some relaxation in the FDI [foreign direct investment] policy. The existing model in India is only for food and most of them do food plus other items. That is a decision the government will be taking very shortly and the serious interests will become apparent once that clarity is there.

UK-based Southern Fried Chicken is looking at setting up 200 outlets in India over a 10-year period. The company’s Franchise Development Manager, Andrew McNair, talks ‘India Investment Journal’ through his plans for a very important future marketplace for the fast-food company.

What makes Southern Fried Chicken bet on the Indian market?

Southern Fried Chicken have a development plan to franchise across the world and see the successful Indian economy as a very important future marketplace. The country has a growing middle class with an increasing disposable income and after allowing for the high preference for vegetable options, there is still a substantial demand for top quality Fried Chicken.

The Indian Prime Minister’s Housing for All initiative has got off to a slow start but latest trends provide hope for a rapid ramp-up.

Of all the flagship schemes undertaken by the Narendra Modi government, the Housing for All programme, which envisages providing pucca (brick and mortar) houses for 20 million Indians by 2022, is, arguably, the most evocative and the one most likely to make a dramatic difference to the lives of millions of poor Indians.

The UK-based Global Innovation Fund, which invests in innovations targeted at improving the lives of the poorest people in developing countries, has pumped in millions to back an Indian farm mechanisation project.

EM3 AgriServices, India’s leading private sector farm mechanisation services company, has raised a $10 million Series B round from London-based Global Innovation Fund (GIF) and existing investor Aspada. The company had earlier raised a $3.3 million Series A from Aspada in June 2015.

A consortium of 12 British and Indian universities led by Swansea University in Wales has won £7 million of UK government funding to build five self-sufficient solar-powered buildings in remote Indian villages.

A new solar project, called SUNRISE, will develop printed photovoltaic cells and new manufacturing processes which can be used to construct solar energy products in India. These will then be integrated into buildings in at least five villages of India, allowing them to harness solar power to provide their own energy and run off grid.

London Stock Exchange has proved a popular choice for investors keen to participate in the India growth story, writes a keen observer of the trend.

Despite macro economic uncertainty, London Stock Exchange Group is showing itself to be the ideal partner to India, as Prime Minister Modi embarks on his ambitious plans to revolutionise the country’s economy and infrastructure.