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Plays a Key Role in Rural Industrialisation Interview with Chinmoy Basu, Chief Executive Officer, KVIC

What is the overall scenario in the Khadi and Village Industries in India?
The relevance and acceptability of Khadi and Village Industries Programme in the present socio economic scenario of our rural sector is widely accepted and in the rural industrialization process, promotion of Khadi and village industries plays a key role.  This is one of the largest decentralized activities aimed for non-farm employment generation, in rural areas.  Today this programe has penetrated to around 2.7 lakhs villages of the country.  As on 31.3.2002 about 62.64 lakhs employment has been generated under this programe.  In a recent initiative taken by us about 1,50,000 rural industry projects have been set up.  We implement the programe through a large number of grass-root level Non-Government Organizations, like registered institutions, Cooperative Societies, in addition to individual entrepreneurs spread over the length and breadth of the country.

What are the key issues faced by Khadi & Village Industries today?
In the era of liberalization and globalization and also in the backdrop of WTO regime, the main issue is to reduce the dependence on Government funding; make the programe more remunerative and equipping the sector to face challenges of the market economy.

Which are the thrust areas for the sector in India?
The survival of any activity highly depends upon its ability to sustain the competition in the market.  Therefore, focus is to bring in quality standardization in village industries product.  Price-wise village industry product by and large is competitive and in certain sectors have distinct advantages.  Once quality standardization is brought in the disorganized production base with appropriate investment in packaging and labeling, they stand good on their own.  This is the main thrust. 

What are your views on the future of Khadi and Village Industries?
This sector is to shoulder much larger responsibility in the years ahead.  The employment opportunities in agricultural sector are either declining or stagnated.  At the same time there is   tremendous pressure for creating additional work opportunities for the ever-increasing rural work force.  Under this scenario, there is immense potential of KVI programe in order to generate sustainable employment avenues in rural non-farm activities.

What do you think are major problems of Khadi and Village Industries?
Quality control of products is the hallmark for better marketing opportunities.  We have unlike, organized manufacturing activities village industries operate in isolation without scientific/managerial feed back needed in modern market. So the improvement of quality, technological up-gradation and skill development to equip the artisan / workers for this purpose is a Herculean task in a sector like KVI.  Various steps have been initiated to address this vital issue and it is our aim to achieve it through the length and breadth of the country in next 2 years.

How do you viewed the Khadi and Village Industries significant progress since independence?
From its humble beginning in the Fifties, this programe has grown to an enormous umbrella at present.  After formation of Khadi and Village Industries Commission, a conducive atmosphere has been created for the accelerated progress of this programe.  Among the progress special mention is to be made about achievement took place in the area of technological up-gradation and its adoption by this sector.  The productivity and earnings of artisans have improved and the technological innovation in this sector has not only helped to improve the quality and productivity, but also to remove the drudgery in the work.  However, admittedly achievements still leave lot to be desired.  The coverage of this sector in terms of artisans, NGOs, geographical areas too has gone up.  In precise this sector has witnessed a series of qualitative and quantitative improvements.

What about KVIC’s recent activity?
KVIC has launched a major programe, namely Rural Employment Generation Programe (REGP).  This programe is implemented with the active involvement of Public Sector Scheduled Commercial Banks, by providing backward and forward linkages.  This scheme has facilitated enhanced flow of institutional credit to rural industrial sector along with development of entrepreneurial skill among the potential rural entrepreneurs.

Yet another recent effort made was in establishing backward and forward linkages to V.I. units by launching Common Facility Centre (CFC) Scheme. Scores of rural artisans living in clusters get benefit of common services like raw material supply, improved tools and implements and supply of spare-parts, marketing etc. under this scheme. No doubt, Khadi, as a fabric possesses certain inherent qualities, which attract consumers. But recently concerted efforts have been put on to develop better design to make khadi cloth more attractive. Our efforts in this connection have been supplemented by the endeavour from organization like National Institute of Design, NGOs like Dastakar Andhra and, RUDA, Rajasthan etc. In the era of eco-friendly products, organic food product is pregnant with immense market potentialities. KVIC has already seized of this opportunity and introduced non-toxic, organic food product and marketing under the brand name of ‘Deshi Aahar’. With the expansion of activities, it is also imperative to impart skill upgradation to the entrepreneurs/artisans to yield the desired result. While training in EDP has made a pre-requisite for getting assistance under REGP, we make extra efforts to rationalize the syllabus to cater the need of the hour.

What are you doing about improving the services of KVIC?
Some measures have already been initiated in the recent past to bring changes both in terms of structure and activities, which are to be continued. But the omissions and commissions are to be identified and rectified.  There is a need to open up this sector and bring more transparency in its functioning.  This can be achieved by decentralizing its operation and conducting wide publicity and awareness programe, which we have already initiated.  Information technology is another area gained attention to speed up the services offered by KVIC. In addition to computerization of various functions, recently KVIC has launched its WEB site through which details about KVI activities and its services are easily made accessible to the entrepreneurs located in far and remote localities. Structural changes and judicial re-deployment of manpower is being attended to make them more responsive and effective.

Following are some other areas towards which we have directed our efforts to bring qualitative improvement in our services.
Convincing the role of Marketing Federation in marketing of KVI products, we have initiated action for formation of an All India Marketing Federation under the name of “Confederation for promotion of Khadi and Village Industries”. This has already registered and tangible result is expected in KVI marketing with the full swing functioning of this Confederation. Yet another measure to boost the marketability and side by side to create awareness about KVI products is Exhibitions. During the current year it is scheduled to conduct about 123 exhibitions, which include 26 State level and 44 District level exhibitions in addition to many local level and mobile exhibitions. Quality control is another area deserves focused attention for improving the overall performance of this sector. We are in the process to tie up with various accredited Regional Laboratories in this regard. Further, under the Rural Employment Generation Programe (REGP) mostly first generation entrepreneurs are covered. In order to help them to impart information about the scheme, its operation, Entrepreneurs Development Programe EDP), training and Banking Sector help etc. “Help Lines” have been established in each State/Regional Office, our training centers and also in all State KVI Boards. This has evoked encouraging response from the entrepreneurs. As an additional step to improve the quality of REGP we are also contemplating to launch a Rural Industry Consultancy Service, to guide and assist entrepreneurs in the formulation of projects, obtaining financial assistance from banks, rendering technical guidance in establishing and running the units, identifying marketing potentialities of products etc.

KVIC has now entering in consultancy services; tell us something about that? 
Recently KVIC has taken up Bio-manure products, which has got ample scope in the Eco-friendly market.  The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi has actively involved in regulating the quality of this product.  Linkage with National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad has been established and a separate KVI wing is operating at NID, Ahmedabad. Interactions with various research and development organizations, accredited national level laboratories etc, are regularly conducted in order to take benefit of their expertise.

Which are the key areas on where Khadi and Village Industries should concentrate to improve more profitability?
In fact Khadi and Village Industries Commission is not a profit generating organization like many other commercial establishment.  It performs mainly as a developmental agency to create a conducive atmosphere for the development of this sector.  The key areas to give focus are adoption of market oriented production strategy, improved technology, better Research and Development, creation of self-employment rather than wage employment under REGP.  It has also adopted a strategy of “no loss” practice instead of the long followed “no profit” policy.

What is your vision for the future?
This sector has demonstrated its intrinsic strength as an effective instrument for rural industrialization and can shoulder larger responsibility in the years ahead, considering the economy’s need to generate rural employment.  We, KVIC are the trendsetter in competitive open market in full WTO regime after 31.12.2004.

Any views on Government Policy?
All successive Central Governments have extended policy support to this sector from time to time.  A step further the present Government has created a separate Ministry of ARI and placed under the control of a Cabinet Minister.  But rural industrialization being a subject of concurrent list of constitution, State Governments should reciprocate the endevour of Central Government, in order to achieve the desired result of policy supports being extended by them.  No doubt, few State Governments have declared certain policy support for the benefit of this sector, many of them are yet to come out with such actions for creating conducive atmosphere for this sector.

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