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

Arun Jaitley significantly ramped up India’s ties with Japan in one of his last major foreign visits before handing over the defence portfolio to Cabinet colleague Nirmala Sitharaman.

India’s outgoing defence minister, Arun Jaitley, left no doubts about India’s close ties with its neighbour Japan during a recently concluded tour of the country in early September.

The bilateral Defence Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo saw Jaitley and his Japanese counterpart, Itsunori Onodera, clinch a range of significant tie-ups in the field of defence cooperation, combat exercises and exchanges and counter-terrorism. The significant ramping up of ties is undoubtedly being viewed as a counter-balance to the increasingly volatile situation in the region, with India’s continued tensions with China over Doklam and North Korea’s increasingly belligerent overtures with missile tests.

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.

Demographics, rising incomes and a low existing base all point towards a paradigm shift in the fortunes of India’s still fledgling food retail sector.

It can potentially become the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) and will definitely play a major role in realising the Prime Minister’s goal of doubling farm incomes by 2022. Food retail, the largest component of India’s more than $500-billion retail sector, is standing at the cusp of greatness. How its fortunes play out over the next five to 10 years could well decide the success of the government’s ambitious Make in India initiative as well as the direction of politics by influencing how the critical farm lobby votes in future elections.

The Indian textiles sector has received much-needed attention but its future continues to hang in balance unless bold initiatives begin to pay off.

The Indian textile industry is the country’s oldest, going back five millennia, and its modern day avatar employs more than 45 million people, making it the country’s second largest employer after agriculture.

Over the last couple of decades, however, this industry has been facing global and domestic headwinds that are threatening its continued wellbeing. But governmental and industry efforts to overcome these challenges also offer considerable upsides and the proposed renewal of the industry promises to rejuvenate it and make it ready for the challenges of the 21st century.

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.

India’s Revenue Secretary, Dr Hasmukh Adhia, embodies the spirit of a new-age bureaucracy, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, independent India’s first Home Minister, famously dubbed the bureaucracy as the “Steel frame of India’. It was, and is, India’s multi-layered bureaucracy that keeps the wheels of the vast nation in motion.

But over time, the edges of the steel frame have rusted and parts of the core have become weak. Result: India’s governance structure has become lax over the last 70 years since Independence.

Enter another man from the state of Gujarat – Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who earned his spurs as an effective administrator during his 13-year stint as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Focused on delivery of services to the ordinary Indian, Modi encouraged and supported bureaucrats who were highly motivated, empowered and results driven – a clean break from the traditionally negative impression (and experiences) of the Indian bureaucracy – of a class of highly educated but corrupt, inefficient and uncaring mandarins who are a hindrance to progress.

We have featured one such “supercrat” bureaucrat – Revenue Secretary Dr Hasmukh Adhia – on our cover this time because I feel he is at the vanguard of the arrival of this new breed of honest, hardworking, diligent, and fiercely independent set of bureaucrats that the Modi government is spawning – and empowering. Adhia has spearheaded the tricky implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which in effect makes India’s 1.2 billion people members of one common market, at last. He also was at the helm of the department that rolled out India’s record breaking financial inclusion programme – the Jan Dhan Yojna.

As a politician and the Chief Minister of Gujarat, his job – and that of his ministerial colleagues – Modi had said, was to focus on policy and public engagements. It was the duty of the empowered bureaucrats to focus on delivery and implementation .

Now, Modi is bringing his tried and trusted success formula to New Delhi. The modern bureaucrat can no longer think like the proverbial bureaucrat. Instead, he or (increasingly and thankfully) she has to be the CEO of the department(s) under his or her charge.

India’s top tier bureacrats can no longer depend only on precedent to show them the way; they have to think out of the box to support Modi’s vision and resolve the many issues that governing a complex country like India routinely throws up.

The Indian government has recently announced that it will no longer follow the practice of awarding automatic time-served promotions to the positions of Secretaries and Principal Secretaries. Instead, aspirants will be subject to 360 degree reviews – and only those who have shown initiative and ability to deliver on difficult targets will be promoted to coveted posts.

At one stroke, the highest levels of the Indian bureaucracy will be rid of mere time servers and only the best will rise to the top.

Adhia is just one example of this new breed of mandarins. There are many others waiting in the wings to follow in his footsteps. And, the Indian Prime Minister and many of his colleagues in the Cabinet are encouraging them to do so.

There are other, far reaching proposals as well. The chief of Niti Aayog, the Indian government’s in-house think-tank, Arvind Panagariya has suggested that senior positions in the government be opened up to talented personnel from the private sector as well. If implemented, this will provide a further much-needed blood transfusion to the system and challenge the cosy, clubby world that senior Indian mandarins currently live in.

Doubtless, there will be many more suggestions and hurdles, like addressing the massive pay gap between the public and private sector.

I’m glad though that the journey has begun on a positive note, and with role models like Adhia and others, the emerging go-getter legion of Indian “supercrats” will stand the country in good stead for the future.

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

The introduction of GST has passed of smoothly and the economy looks set to enter a higher growth trajectory once the initial teething troubles are sorted out.

At the stroke of the midnight hour on the intervening night of June 30 and July 1, while the world slept, much of India was wide awake, watching President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally launch the much awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST).



At the stroke of the midnight hour, India was transformed – from 29 discrete markets each with its own labyrinthine tax laws to one common market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programme to make India a major global manufacturing hub is likely to start showing results when the $68-billion of investments committed on the ground start coming on stream over the next couple of years.

Critics complain that the glass is half empty. The Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative has not led to any increase in the share of manufacturing in the country’s GDP and has not generated the huge number of jobs it was expected to.


But that, pardon the pun, is only half the picture. Experts point out that the manufacturing sector begins to contribute to the economy only with a lag of three-four years and point to the pipeline of about $68 billion of foreign investment, much of it in the manufacturing sector, to argue that a better way of describing the glass would be as half full.

A new compilation of essays on India-UK ties created a cross-country buzz over the last few weeks with its launch events in London and New Delhi.

“The UK’s relationship with India has been predominantly transactional, but it needs to become transformational. India and the UK need to understand where the true value comes from the partnership, and how they can turn this special relationship into a global relationship, one that changes the world for the better, tackling significant issues such as security and climate change together.”