INDIA: Decline in workforce adversely affects khadi industry

NEW DELHI: The Khadi sector has been adversely affected due to the decline in workman strength and demand for khadi (due to high cost of the cloth), with its growth stagnating over the past few years, industry sources said here on March 19.

In 2005-06, khadi worth Rs 471 crore was produced and was not much higher than the Rs 443.07 crore worth of production in 2002-03, while the growth of the sector has remained stagnant despite a number of steps being taken by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to promote the indigenous product.

However, despite the government’s stated intention of promoting the use of khadi, the number of people employed in the sector, a labour-intensive industry, has fallen drastically from 13.16 lakh in 1994-95 to 8.70 lakh in 2005-06.

Further, the decrease in workforce is mainly due to decreasing demand for the fabric and exploitative middlemen making the sector unattractive for workers.

On the other hand, the ministry of small-scale industries pointed out that the workman strength has declined due to weavers moving out of the sector owing to poor remuneration.

The middlemen exploit the weavers by pocketing most of the profits earned on the sale of khadi cloth to the Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and moreover, the middlemen quote a much higher price for various inputs than their actual cost.

In 2005-06, Rs 475.95 crore worth of budgetary support was provided to the sector for planned activities and an additional Rs 68.93 crore was granted for non-planned activities, but was in vain due to the high cost of production quoted by the middlemen.

Also the Gramodyog Rozgar Yojana aimed at providing more avenues of employment for the rural unemployed is not achieving its aim due to the declining workman strength of the khadi sector.  

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Added: March 20, 2007 Source: Agencies
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