''I assure you that our Government will be there to help this vital industry because I do believe that the textiles sector has a strategic role in our industrial economy,'' Dr Singh said while addressig the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Confederation of Indian Textile Industry here. The Prime Minister said the textile sector has been a major pillar of the country's industrial economy for more than one reason, but importantly because of its employment potential. "Our Government will come forward and address all the legitimate concerns of the industry as long as we can work together to generate more employment,"Dr Singh said.
''I assure you that our Government will pay the closest attention to devising appropriate strategies to further promote the growth and competitiveness of this vital national industry.'' Given its widespread dispersal across the country, the industry can be a vehicle for nationwide industrial modernisation and revitalisation of traditional skills and designs, Dr Singh said, adding that it can generate large-scale employment, especially close to rural areas, provided its high labour-intensity.
The fact that this industry employs a large female workforce, in semi-urban and rural areas, enables it to provide employment to both men and women. He said his Government has the responsibility in three or four important areas of business, like ensuring compliance with tax laws, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and ensuring adherence to workers' welfare and commitments made to stakeholders.
This would mean that you would at best have to deal with four or five inspectors or regulators. For the rest, the laws of the land should be able to take care of the interests of investors, consumers and workers. He, therefore, hope that working together government and industry can create very quiet political consensus in our country that will minimise Governmental interference in business activity to these four or five areas and that the Inspector Raj that still stifles enterprise will be thing of the past.
With such a rich tradition in textiles, the desire to become a great global leader in textiles is a legitimate ambition which all of us must cherish, he said. ''We have to regain that glory and once again become, as we once were, the world's best textile industry,'' Dr Singh said. ''Unfortunately, in the past century, we lost that position,'' he said, adding that many other Asian countries, including some of our neighbours, have since overtaken us.
With the dismantling of the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA), there is now a new opportunity, but we must make up for lost time, the Prime Minister said.
For making the textile industry globally competitive, especially in the post-Multi Fibre Agreement regime, Dr Singh said his Government has focused on three imperatives--the need to ensure a stable policy environment, the need to support modernisation through financing technological upgradation, and helping build global brands for Indian textiles.
The Prime Minister, however, said the challenge in the Eleventh Plan is to increase the skill base to make this sector competitive.
''We need innovative responses to increasing jobs in our country and the textile industry, which has great potential to generate new jobs, has been suggesting the idea of linking guaranteed employment for a certain number of days in a policy framework that can respond adequately to the genuine demands of the sector. These issues require in-depth analysis,'' Dr Singh said.
The National Skill Development Mission has already identified this as a thrust area of endeavour.