Khadi industry: production rises but employment drops

The Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises has recently released data that suggests that, although Khadi textile production has increased by 31.6 percent, seven lakh jobs have been lost.

The Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises has recently released data on Khadi employment - Good Earth- Facebook

The Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises recently presented their data to the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) to review production and employment in the Khadi textile industry. The report stated that employment in the sector fell from 11.6 lakh to 4.6 lakh in the time period between 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 with around half of job losses being in the central zone. However, during the same time period, Khadi production increased by 31.6 percent and sales increased by 33 percent.

Increased sales of Khadi are no doubt related to the Union Government’s continued promotion of the fabric. In the present financial year (2017/2018) Khadi sales have been further aided by being made exempt from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that replaced the previous Value Added Tax (VAT) system in July 2017. Government partnerships with around 20 large businesses to promote Khadi will also aid sales.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has offered some reasons for the Ministry’s figures. According to KVIC, employment figures up to 2015/2016 were skewed as they reflected new jobs being created and not those being left and so the huge employment loss the recent figures suggest was over a far greater time period.

Another reason for job losses in the Khadi sector is the introduction of more efficient machinery. The New Model Charkhas that replaced the Single Spindle Charkhas are far more efficient and so have reduced the need for labourers. “Most spinners were working on single spindle traditional charkhas earlier which are more employment intensive. With the adoption of new model charkhas many old artisans have exited,” said KVIC’s annual report although no exact figures are available. As the government continues to promote “Make in India” with a strong focus on Khadi for its tradition and sustainability, it appears that the sector’s employment figures must be addressed further.

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