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Newsline-International | August 2016

Smriti Irani is the new Textiles Minister

The announcement of portfolios for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new-look Cabinet saw some big portfolio changes among the existing ministers.

In one such change, Smriti Irani will now take charge as Textiles Minister. She has taken over from Santosh Kumar Gangwar, who has now been given the Finance department. Ajay Tamta will also be given an active role in the Textiles Department.

Irani was earlier the Minister of Human Resource Development. She joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2003. She became Vice President of the Maharashtra Youth Wing in 2004. In the 2004 general elections for the 14th Lok Sabha, she contested unsuccessfully against Kapil Sibal from the Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi. She was nominated as executive member of the central committee of the BJP.

In 2010, Irani was appointed National Secretary of BJP and on June 24, she was appointed All India President of the BJP’s women’s wing, BJP Mahila Morcha. In August 2011, she was sworn in as a member of parliament from Gujarat to the Rajya Sabha. On May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi appointed her as the Minister of Human Resource Development in his cabinet.

Textile body welcomes Irani’s appointment

The Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) has welcomed the appointment of Irani as Minister for Textiles.

Naishadh Parikh the Chairman of CITI said, “At a time the textile industry is poised to establish ‘Make in India’ into a reality, the appointment of a dynamic, progressive and result-oriented Cabinet Minister like Irani comes at an opportune time.”

Parikh thanked Modi for appointing a full-fledged Cabinet Minister for Textiles “to achieve his goal of creating five crore jobs in the next few years.”

“India is the second fully integrated robust textile value chain, next only to China and industry is looking forward to initiatives to further bolster the Textile Industry in view of large investments taking place in Bangladesh and Vietnam towards verticalisation of the industry,” Parikh said.

Irani meets industry representatives

Irani has drawn up an ambitious agenda for the department. “The plan is to have a single-window clearance system wherever possible to reduce paperwork and streamline processes... so that the domestic industry can focus on competition,” said an official.

The new textile minister has begun meeting industry representatives and other stakeholders since facilitating trade to promote textile exports is high on her agenda, said officials. While taking charge, Irani had flagged support for weavers and skilling programmes to boost exports as focus areas. Once an industry central to India’s economy, the sector has been hit by labour trouble, lack of competitiveness, global trade quotas and other factors. It’s still got heft. The textile industry contributes 14 per cent to industrial production, almost 4 per cent to India’s GDP and accounts for 13 per cent of the country’s export earning, directly employing more than 45 million. It’s the biggest employer in the country after agriculture and the government feels it has the potential to become a massive generator of new jobs.

India’s textile exports fell to $40 billion in FY16 from $41.4 billion in the year before. A key concern for industry is simplifying and easing environmental approvals for processing units, seen by some as a time-consuming process.

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