Interview with Mr Rajeev Lakhara

Mr Rajeev Lakhara
Mr Rajeev Lakhara
Managing Director
Footwear Design & Development Institute - Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt of India.
Footwear Design & Development Institute  - Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt of India.

What are the challenges and lacunae faced by the sector that impediments this vision of yours?

Being a noticeable player in the world footwear and leather market with exports growing at 8 percent, the Indian footwear and leather industry has its shortcomings in the manufacturing segment, which lacks high-value investment. Coupled with this is the lack of training facilities to build a large base of skilled workers and artisans.

Some bottlenecks, affecting this industry are:
  • Lack of fresh investments to augment tanning capacities.
  • Lack of adequate foreign investment in Footwear manufacture.
  • Lack of a strong component industry.
  • Lack of adequate facilities for design and product development.
  • Lack of image promotion for the Indian products, abroad.
  • Lack of branded products that are able to compete in the global market.
  • Lack of eco-friendly attitude (Foreigners are very much concerned about these things).
  • Dearth of trained and skilled manpower in the domestic industry.
  • Not following the specifications, as per the requirements of the buyer.
  • Absence of proper marketing personnel and strategy.
  • Apart from the above mentioned issues, taxes on machinery and inputs need to be rationalized and key fiscal issues to be addressed like excise duty and CVD exemption on machinery and equipment, lowering import duty on spare parts to 5 percent, central excise exemption on spare parts and removal of CVD on vegetable tanning extracts.

    What are your views on the prevalent state of artisans, their skills/ talent and infrastructural facilities available within India?

    The artisans of footwear sector are similar to craftsmen and artisans of other sectors that are gaining a niche in domestic market. Inspite of excellence in skill, potential of exports, measures taken by the Government to improve their socio-economic conditions, they are mired in poverty and subject to exploitative structure.

    Production is organized as family enterprise. Male members of the family are engaged in process like cutting, stitching, sole pasting, etc. while women do embroidery and children also help in production process. Artisans are not exposed to domestic market outside.

    For the artisans, FDDI organizes various Entrepreneurship Development Programme/workshop at various parts of the country in which artisans participates. During the Entrepreneurship Development Programme/workshop, participants are informed about the various aspects of leather products making. The participants acquire knowledge on various sizing systems, its conversion from one system to another, optimization in cutting of leather, on designing, on finishing and ascertaining product prices with rationalized ways of costing.

    In order to ensure sustainability of the initiatives and ownership of the artisan group, a society named Society for Marketing of Artisan and Rural Things (SMART) has been formed. A display center for ethnic footwear has also been constructed at FDDI, which is helping to meet the most pressing need of this sector and mainstream the product in domestic and international market.

    A website with e-commerce facility has been setup and is available under the URL: www.mojari.com, which is providing the artisan households exposure to collective manufacturing, marketing in the strong niche urban markets.

    FDDI is also training workers and artisan involved in the making of footwear in SME’s and village clusters under the `Human Resource Development’ (HRD) Mission scheme of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.

    Under the scheme FDDI has trained artisans/ SME from Saharanpur, Jaipur, Alwar, Patiala, Abohar, Fazialka, Muktsar, Malot etc. The artisans have been distributed handouts in Hindi and local language prepared specially for the workers working under HRD Mission in a very simple and easily understandable manner. Tools kit specially designed for the artisans of cluster pertaining to their skill area was given after the completion of the training program.

    The training program has been designed in a manner that the trainers visit the units /households for imparting the training to the workers and the artisans.

    What are your institutes special focus areas in reviving the domestic industries, especially from Northern and Southern regions of India?

    FDDI has been a true friend to the Industry in the shape of providing Technology Advisory, HR, Testing and latest updates.

    As far as special focus areas in reviving the domestic industries are concerned FDDI under the ‘Onsite training of workers in footwear industries’ has provided training to renowned footwear companies like Moja Shoes, M & B Footwear, Relaxo, Tryshoera, Mayur Leather Products Ltd., Sarup Tanneries Ltd., Zeta Leather Exports, VSM Overseas, Crew BOS, S.K. Enterprises & Lakhani India Ltd. to name a few. FDDI provided training in different areas of production of footwear i.e. Cutting, Closing, Lasting etc.

    Onsite training imparted by senior faculties and technical experts of FDDI has resulted in increase in productivity, reduction in rejection, material saving & quality improvements and better material usage in the company.

    FDDI, under its expansion plan has opened a sub center at Bangalore and a satellite center at Mumbai. Apart from this it has already opened a CAD center at Chennai to fulfill the long felt need of footwear industry of South India. FDDI is equipped and certified to carry out most of the tests for footwear manufacturing. We offer both consultancy and advisory services to leather units.

    There is huge shortage in the regular supply of trained manpower to the footwear industry at all levels. Though there is a need for creation of training and technical facilities in all regional centers, the requirement in Uttar Pradesh was more critical. This is because there is no specialized institute for footwear training in the eastern UP which is having the major clusters of Kanpur and Unnao.

    Industrialists of Uttar Pradesh had approached several times and also given representations to meet the requirements of professionals and also the training of their employees. To bridge this gap FDDI is setting-up another full-fledged campus at Fursatganj, Amethi, Uttar Pradesh from academic session 2008-09.

    Published on: 30/07/2007

    DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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