Textiles India 2017, the first such mega-event to be organised by the ministry of textiles, has set the stage for that much-needed boost for the Indian textiles and apparel industry. Subir Ghosh presents an overview of the event, including reactions from those present at the convention.

The silver lining that emanated from Gandhinagar over three gloomy, rain-drenched days was as far-reaching as it was clear.

The scale of the Textiles India 2017 event, the inauguration by the Prime Minister himself, the ubiquitous presence of a contingent of high-profile Union ministers, and the infectious atmosphere prevailing over the three-day gathering at the sprawling exhibition complex in the Gujarat capital-all point to the textiles and apparel industry being set to get a fillip from the Indian government. The government, it is well-nigh apparent now, is pitching the Indian textiles and apparel industry as the next big thing to generate employment, ramp up manufacturing and boost exports.

It was possibly the first time that the ministry of textiles-and with it the Indian textiles and apparel industry just as well-emerged from the deep recesses of the country's humongous administrative machinery. Many felt that the textiles and apparel industry was finally getting its due recognition.

The event was not only inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, besides having the conspicuous presence of Union textiles minister Smriti Irani and her minister of state Ajay Tamta, the active involvement of a number of other ministers was clearly indicative of the fact that the government is looking at inter-ministerial efforts in order to boost the textiles and apparel industry.

The numbers were impressive: some 1,500 exhibitors spread across 78,000 sq m of exhibition space, playing host to over 2,500 overseas buyers from at least 100 countries and about 15,000 domestic visitors. Besides, 26 round-tables and six conferences were organised over the three-day conclave. It was the largest textiles-related assembly by any measure that had ever been held in India. There is no way to quantify all the individual deals that may have been transacted or even initiated during the event, but in official terms as many as 65 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were inked.

The dampener was a literal one, with incessant rains over Gandhinagar and surrounding areas all through the fair making it tiresome and messy, particularly for those from abroad. There were many who felt that the monsoons were not a good time for such an event. Protests over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) did not cast a shadow, but those remained at the back of the mind for many.

In financial terms, it might be too early to describe Textiles India 2017 as either a gigantic success or a colossal failure since monetary figures are yet to be tabulated. But, if interest in the event is any yardstick to go by, there is already a big rush from various states, all wanting to host it the next time.