Theprofound political and economic changes that have taken place over the lastdecade pose serious challenges for governments, private business, and the civilsociety. The conversion of command systems to more open markets and therestructuring of enterprises, with the consequent need to find employmentoutside big government and large corporations, have given rise to a tide ofentrepreneurism.
Timeschange so rapidly and running a business is so complex these days that owner-managerscan easily find things getting out of control if adequate planning and controlare not undertaken and implemented. Competition seems to be getting tougher allthe time. In most cases, small businesses find themselves competing with muchlarger companies-ones that know the benefits of long range planning andpractice it. Yet, case studies have emerged from various parts of the worldshowing that clusters of small enterprises have broken into internationalmarkets. The best-known cases are the Italian industrial districts and similarcases come from other advanced countries. But perhaps the most interesting comefrom less developed countries. For example, Brazil is today a major shoeexporter. Pakistan is today one of the world's main exporters of surgicalinstruments.
IntegratedHandloom Cluster Development Programme was taken up by the government of India in the backdrop of crisis in handloom sector, marked by suicides by handloom weavers,and subsequent advocacy by various individuals and institutions. It is also onepositive programme of the government aimed to help in the development ofhandloom sector. Given the circumstances in which programme has been thoughtof, it is imperative that one should look at how this programme is beingorganized.
Thehistory of Cluster development programme can be traced to 1995 when UN IndustrialDevelopment Organisation (UNIDO) to strengthen the competitiveadvantage of SSI clusters. From a UNIDO survey of the largest Indian clustersconducted in 1996 it emerges that the majority of them comprise small-scaleenterprises which perform the entire production process in-house, and thatsubcontracting (to other small, medium or large-scale firms) is relatively lessfrequent. It is estimated that over 60% of the Indian manufacturing exports aregenerated by clusters (UNIDO, 1997).
The author isIndependent Textile Analyst