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Viewpoint | December 2014

Growth Via Innovation

Investment is a necessity for growth, but innovation is indispensable. In the Indian textile industry, this is a late realisation. India is No. 2 in textiles, everyone trumpets, but where are we? India´s share is about four per cent in global textiles and clothing, and China is way ahead with 36 per cent. Even if China loses grip, the share may decline to about 30 per cent in the next five or so years. For India, to take its share to eight per cent will be an uphill task. A trade expert recently stumbled upon an interesting information: India stands second to China in export of textiles to Canada; China´s share is 96 per cent and India´s is two per cent! The runner-up is far, far behind! Why? We have a strong raw material base, good talent pool, imported technologies....and then where has the innovation gone? According to a report on patents, the number of patents filed till December 2013 for the US is 1,47,666 while that for India, it is 2,474. Though we have missed the bus in the last one decade, all is not lost. Globalisation coupled with cost arbitrage have provided platform to outsource R&D and product development activities within and across the countries. These R&D centres provide high value innovations & product transformation services. Universities in US and Germany are the leaders in providing such services and we should learn to use them. In order to give a boost to R&D, the Government must also encourage the industry by exempting expenses on R&D and also payment to R&D centres from tax. India needs more products meeting international standards, in smaller volumes and high quality. Just one example of how Zara has cracked the formula to fashion retail success; it simply changed the collection twice every week - what you see at Zara´s this week will not be there next week. The faster we innovate the better, and investment alone in just building big capacities will not be adequate to surmount today´s global competition. The route to growth is innovation, innovation and innovation.
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