Weavers and craftsmen gather in Shillong to explore business avenues

Shillong, Jan 29 (IANS) Weavers and craftsmen from all eight northeastern states on Sunday gathered here for the 1st North East Business Summit to explore the region as a “global destination” for investment.

The two-day summit dubbed as “Exploring Opportunities in North East Region” is organised by the Union Textiles Ministry, in association with the Development of North East Region (DoNER) Ministry and the industry Associations FICCI and CII.

Nearly 60 textile export houses from across India are participating in the summit.

Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani said that there has been around 715 various development projects in the northeastern states including tie ups with countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and China through economic corridors to ensure that “the ‘Act East Policy’ under the leadership of Narendra Modi is something that fructifies in front of our very eyes”.

She said her ministry has sanctioned projects of more than Rs 1,040 crore for the region through textiles promotion schemes of handloom, handicrafts, sericulture and garmenting so that the central government can add to the efforts of the state governments to create more employment opportunities.

“The region itself has huge potential for investments, particularly in the field of textiles industry due to its strong traditional skill base and a variety of unique designs and eco friendly products,” Irani said.

“We are in a position for infusion of Rs 820 crore for support to sericulture in the northeastern states and is estimated that it will impact around 3.95 lakh families of which 70 per cent are women,” she said.

Further, she also informed that her ministry had launched the “Bunkar Mitra-Handloom Helpline Centre” where professional queries of weavers will be answered by the experts and a mobile app, ‘E-Dhaga’, developed to address the concerns of individual weavers relating to the availability of raw material, delays in supplies and ensuring stocks in depots.

“The mobile app will be a boon for handloom weavers to transact business anytime, anywhere and they can send their indents and payments online through this app,” she said.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that the two day summit would provide an opportunity to showcase the talents of the weavers, to inculcate upon themselves the job avenues which ultimately becomes self-sustainable.

Stating that the central government was concerned on the exodus of youth from the region in search of quality education and jobs, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh said the business summit will surely open the region to investments in textile industry, adding that his ministry will provide initial venture capital fund for start ups in the region.

Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju urged the central government to ensure that the northeastern people should be made to feel that the central government is funding the states not for charity but for its commitment towards developing the region.

Stating that India’s biggest challenge is “job creation”, NITI Aayog Vice Chairma, Arvind Panagariya said that the textile industry is the best sector for providing jobs to unemployed youth.