Why is India lagging behind China in footwear production?

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India is the second-largest global producer of footwear after China and still, depends on imports for certain raw materials, and the time has come to look at innovating by using local materials. We got in touch with Ambud Sharma, Founder and CEO, Escaro Royale to dig deeper into where’s the country lagging behind, and here’s what he had to say.

It is no longer unfamiliar that India is a hub of skilled artisans and craftsmen. Yet the majority of industries in India tragically rely on the import of raw materials and the footwear industry is no exception. While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every industry, the Indian footwear industry is likewise shocked and puzzled.

Far behind China
Despite India being the second-largest global producer of footwear following China, it still relies upon imports of certain raw materials. Due to the lack of availability of certain parts in India used in making footwear, several homegrown brands and footwear manufacturers need to import them.

Recently, the Government of India intending to prevent future economic collapse, announced a 20 lakh crore package to create a self-reliant India, and it was a welcome move. As it is no more a vague idea and the citizens want to support the idea of ‘Vocal For Local’ with grandeur. Now is the time to focus on innovating by using local materials.

Undoubtedly, the Indian footwear industry has the potentiality to be self-reliant as well for representing Brand India worldwide. While the dependency cannot be brought down to zero at once, but with a consistency of minimization, the industry can be self-reliant.

What can be done?
The footwear component industry being the foundation of Indian footwear manufacturing, it must be the key centre zone. To initiate minimizing the import dependency and strengthen the footwear ecosystem in India by ensuring the availability of raw materials, the footwear exporters must scrap all duty-free import schemes which they misuse by exporting India’s valued products and importing undervalued products and thereby disturbing the local market with substandard products.

For the domestic industry to invest and produce top-notch products, machinery plays a vital role to ensure that raw materials are produced praising both the quality and quantity. Even when the footwear industry entirely depends on imports for certain raw materials, the leading 5 units must be given a 50% capital subsidy of the investment on beginning production. As the current scheme under the Integrated Development of Leather Sector (IDLS) can’t help the component sector for some impractical reasons, a component sector specific capital subsidy scheme can be planned too.

The industry requires support
Keeping competitive pricing alongside offering value for money without compromising goes a long way. The footwear industry needs regulatory support as far as land availability, labour policies, and different measures are concerned to ensure that more manufacturing facilities with larger capacities are set up. To facilitate research and development, India must open up entryways to set up material research plants and laboratories which have tie-ups with some western nations who have mastered in the equivalent. Lastly, if India has to be self-reliant, the industry must ensure environmental protection policy to centralize and control pollution.

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