Centre plans a major push to Moradabad handicrafts industry

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

Exports to be trebled within next five years, two million new jobs to be created

MORADABAD: "Moradabad is a major trade centre that has been registering a steady increase in handicraft export sales over the years and we are keen to involve the local manufacturers and traders here to work towards achieving a growth in exports from Rs. 13,000 crores at present to Rs. 39,000 crores in the next five years and create two million new jobs. Exports have doubled in the last five years in the sector and we are also looking at using this `export prosperity' to improve civic infrastructure in trade centres including Moradabad," said Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Jairam Ramesh at a seminar on `Quantum Jump in Employment Generation and Exports of Handicrafts' here on Saturday.

"Currently the small-scale and cottage sector helps solve social and economic problems of the artisans by providing employment to over 60 lakh artisans. This includes a large number of women and people belonging to weaker sections of society. The sector is economically important from the point of view of low capital investment, high-ratio of value addition and high potential for export and foreign exchange earnings for the country," added Mr. Ramesh.

Speaking about the growing importance of the Indian handicraft sector that is among the largest providers of employment in the country, the Minister said, "Currently the metal handicraft industry in Moradabad is facing a stiff competition from countries like China, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia as our competitors have the ability to deliver high volume orders within a short span of time."

techniques and other drawbacks, Mr. Ramesh said steps are being taken to ameliorate the problems and Moradabad, which alone caters to about 60 per cent of total exports of art metal wares to the United States and United Kingdom, would also benefit from these measures.

It was also pointed out that cottage crafts of Uttar Pradesh include wood ware, cane, bamboo, clay and ceramics, ivory bone and horn, straw grass, glassware, stoneware, floor covering and handlooms, that are exported to the West. The Minister said since the "cottage sector in India is omnipresent with each State contributing through one or more crafts and Indian cottage sector has seen rapid growth in the past and witnessed average annual growth of more than 17 per cent since 1994, it has contributed significantly to foreign exchange earning of the country and at present is a Rs. 50,000 crores plus industry."

The seminar was attended by manufacturers, small traders and government employees who spoke about the problems faced by the sector. "We have submitted a 16-point charter of demands to the Ministry asking it to look at our problems including exemption of stamp duty on registration of plots under the Special Economic Zone Scheme, exemption from trade tax on all kinds of building material, uninterrupted power supply and exemption from electricity duty, single bank account that is applicable on all customs, a dedicated gas pipe line and a passport office at Moradabad," said the president of the Brass Art Ware Manufacturers' (Exporters') Association, Mohammed Iqbal Shamsi.