— Consider reading the article ‘Some Indians can’t take pride in their own products’, Industry Minister Piyush Goyal after Shashi Tharoor mocked him for promoting Kolhapuri footwear industry on OpIndia website —
Commerce and Industry minister Piyush Goyal has issued a statement after Congress leader Shashi Tharoor mocked him for suggesting that Kolhapuri footwear can have a big export market if correct steps are taken. He also slammed India for not taking pride in local products.
The Modi government has been focusing on encouraging traditional industries, with an aim to increase employment and also to preserve local industries. The central government is working towards promoting the One District One Product scheme, to identify one product in each district for manufacturing. As part of that effort, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said that India needs to take a unique and innovative approach to boost exports, like identifying districts which are famous for a particular product.
The minister gave the example of Kolhpuri slippers in this regard. He said that if marketed properly, Kolhapuri slippers can become a billion-dollar export product. During meeting with the chief ministers via video conferencing, Piyush Goyal said that he believes that Kolhapuri chappal alone has the potential to do a billion dollars of exports, if the central and state govts come up with innovative ideas to turn this into reality.
Giving an example of such an idea, he had said, “One of these ideas, in relation to Kolhapuri chappals, could be if we contact all five star hotels around the world and ask them to keep 2-3 sizes of Kolhapuri chappals in the hotel room almirahs the way they keep bathrobes.” He suggested that this way the footwear will be promoted in front of people staying in such hotels who may buy them.
But Shashi Tharoor, the ‘guest artist’ in Congress party, didn’t like the idea, and he came forward to mock the minister for trying to promote Kolhapuri slippers. “Giving a whole new meaning to the BJP’s flip-flops on policy — this time it’s flip-flops AS policy!”, he tweeted.
After the Thiruvananthapuram MP the comments, the union minister has issued a statement defending the idea of promoting Kolhapuri slipper for global exports. The minister said that the slippers have great export potential because India has a huge export market for footwear. The country exported more than Rs. 18,000 crore of footwear and related items in the year 2019-20.
India is the second largest global producer of footwear after China, and the country produces 2 billion pairs of footwear in various categories. Around 15,000 units are engaged in manufacturing of footwear in the country, with an estimated total turnover of Rs 50,000 crore.
The minister added that the example of Kolhapuri slippers was made to showcase that if produced & marketed properly, traditional Indian products have a huge export market potential and can compete and even excel against other categories of footwear. He also added that Kolhapuri chappals were popular in America during the hippie generation of the 1960s and 1970s. “The present criticism stems from a weak mindset”, the minister said, referring to the criticism from opposition leaders on his comments. He added that while even in Americans in 60s and 70s had no problem in adopting Kolhapuri Chappals, now some Indians in 2020 can’t take pride in their own products.
The Commerce and Industry Minister also pointed towards the increase in the market for Khadi products since 2014. The production of Khadi fabric since 2014 was recorded at 95.05 million square meters in just six years, compared to the production of 103.22 million square meters in the previous 58 years.