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December 27, 1999
Khadi seeks to withstand MNC products
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission has drawn up elaborate plans to tackle the 'threat' posed by multi-national companies to its products.
Addressing a media conference in Amritsar on Sunday, the commission chairman Mahesh Sharma said they were ready for competition and expected the govenment to help them because the rural-based industry in India generates a great deal of employment which the MNC do not. He, however, admitted that liberalisation had affected some sectors of production of the khadi industry, particularly the consumer goods section.
(A common thread runs through Independence, the freedon struggle which preceded it, Mahatma Gandhi and khadi -- the cotton cloth spun out of the hand-operated spinning wheel. It was Gandhi who sought to popularise khadi as a national alternative to British-produced cloth that harmed the business interests of Indian mills. So much so that the spinning wheel, the charka, became a symbol of the Mahatma-led struggle for freedom.)
The commission has planned to upgrade its technical output and was laying focus on research and development, he added.
Help for this purpose had been sought from the Indian Institutes of Technology all over the country and the IIT-Delhi had already responded favourably, he said.
Sharma said the central government too had drawn up a three-point strategy called the National Programme on Rural Industrialisation for developing the village industry.
Under this scheme, programmes scattered in various ministeries would be clubbed together into one national integrated programme so that resources are better utilised, he said.
Under the programme, the commission would adopted an agressive marketing approach to sell its products in order to compete with the big industrial houses, Dr Sharma said.
This programme would also involve the formation of rural industrial clusters all over the country so that inputs of modern technology and management skills were extended to this sector, he added.
The credit outflow in the last fiscal of the commission almost doubled to Rs 4.50 billion and it was expected to touch the Rs 20 billion mark at the end of the current financial year, Sharma claimed.
He said the commission would be setting up a multi-purpose training centre at Mohali in Punjab to train entrepreneurs. The Punjab government had agreed to allot land, he added.
Sharma also disclosed that a special scheme for promoting rural industry in the border areas of Punjab would be announced soon but before this a team of the commission would tour the border districts.
Khadi board mulls tie-ups to tap top-end fashion market
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