Manufacturing India: And BanglaDesh

During my sole visit to BanglaDesh, I had some opportunity to visit some of facilities of apparel manufacturing in early 90s- basically huge halls with large number of sewing machines both in Dacca as well as in Chattogram. As far as I remember the women or girls working there used to get some 10-15 takas per day. It was the Chinese who provided the clothes and other materials including stitching thread and buttons. They managed the technical and marketing aspects of the organisations.

Over the years BanglaDesh has changed and march ahead. I was surprised that BanglaDesh exports more apparel than India. Manas Chakraborty rightly points out the way Bangladesh has gone ahead. “Over the past few years, Bangladesh has successfully used its low-cost advantage to become a base for garment manufacturing. This has led to the migration of millions of people from rural areas into the manufacturing sector, with women being the biggest beneficiaries. Significantly, the share of employment in the formal sector in Bangladesh is 27.9%, well above that in India, and the proportion of working women in formal employment is even higher.”

A natural question is : Why Indian states Bihar, West Bengal and Assam or for that matter, the north eastern states could not take the clue from the BanglaDesh to excel in textile trade?

A recent unprecedented mishap in BanglaDesh killed around 1200 of the employees of an apparel making company.

An article appeared in ‘The NewYork Times’-‘After Bangladesh, Seeking New Sources’. It made me think over a question. Why has a New York fashion company searched for other countries, from Guatemala to Vietnam to Indonesia including BanglaDesh, capable of supplying top retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus beside China but not India with teeming millions remaining unemployed? After the multistory factory collapse in Bangladesh, the mass-market retailers are again in search of alternative suppliers from different locations and their senior executive are planning trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and perhaps Indonesia to seek alternatives. Why are they not looking to India as another China like source?

Further as per news reports, the Chinese have reached Bangladesh to help and invest in the industry, but not Indians.

Interestingly, some Indian entrepreneurs also outsource the apparels for export and domestic consumption to Bangladesh and as an excuse they blame the non-availability of skilled labour in India. Why should Indian industrialists only talk about the labour law and government support without providing any leadership to skill and organise the unemployed millions of women in India who can do the job willingly and better?

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