Those who remove mountains ….

Those who remove mountains begin by carrying away small stones; is a proverb; following is a literal example of the same. Various economists and world leaders have admitted that UPA I and II has taken various conscious steps to kill ‘Indian Industry, Economy and Talent’. All kind of scams, from 2G to NREGA to Railway Recruitment are example of the same.

‘Indian Industry, Economy and Talent’ has somehow managed to survive, to a great extent because of the initiatives of Narendra Modi led Gujarat Government. Everyone knows how he gave a new life to ‘Nano Car’, accepted world over as the pride of Indian Industry and Talent. But people don’t know is that his government has taken several initiatives to save many other industries from the situation similar to that of Nano. Nano got talked about but other initiatives have been overlooked by media; may be because they are not glamorous enough.

Following is an example of Stone Industry. There are more than 20,000 units working all over India with a huge investment of more than Rs 50,000 crore and providing job opportunities to more than 15 lakh persons. India leads in production of natural stones with 35,342 million tonnes (27.91 per cent share), followed by China (31,000 million tonnes – 23.48 per cent), but India lags behind when it comes to exports. China exported 16 million tonnes of stone valued at $3.04 billion in 2010 as against India’s export figures of about $600 million.

The policy paralysis in the central government has affected the growth of the industry. Fairly, no new lease are being granted by the government in such areas as reserve forest, tiger reserve, wild life sanctuary, national parks, Western Ghats, Aravali region etc. But at the same time, Granite blocks are not allowed to be imported while DGFT has permitted the import of additional quota of one lakh tons of rough marble dimensional blocks in the country by the Indian companies who have invested in marble mining in foreign countries. This notification totally demoralizes the Indian industries who have invested heavy amount in India. In a way, Commerce Ministry is encouraging the monopoly in the marble import. There are still no overseas investments coming to natural stone field because of the policy paralysis.

The lacuna in the EXIM policy has given advantage to the Chinese and large quantities of the Indian granites blocks are being exported to China. After value addition, China exports the finished goods to different parts of the world which created the competition for the Indian industries. If this situation continues, days are not far away when the entire Indian stone market will be controlled by only Chinese finished goods.

Apart from removing restrictive import policies, government needs to improve road infrastructure as high transport cost hurts the trade, increase power generation & distribution and start training courses for growth of the industry.

While there has been no effort by central government in any of the areas mentioned above, state government of Gujarat is known for having build road infrastructure and excellent power production, through both renewable and non-renewable sources. Through its training program Government of Gujarat has given a new life to the industry.

The journey of the processing industry started with circular saw machines to Gangsaw and the latest one being circular wire saw machines. Latest resin lines, polishing lines etc. are being used for making the products of international standards. Even in the mining sector, now diamond wires are being used, dispensing the traditional blasting method.

Decline in the industry reduced the number of craftsman and artisans for such work. To revive the stone art, Stone Artisan Park Training (SAPTI) was instituted in Ambaji and Dhrangadhra. The course moulds the trainees to be entrepreneur by providing self employment opportunities. This is the only initiative of its kind in India.

The facilities provided to the trainees include free boarding and lodging, course materials and tools. No tuition fee is charged whereas the trainees are paid Rs 100 as stipend on a daily basis. Employment is assured for all pass out students of the four month and one year course. SAPTI has collaborated with NID, Ahmedabad, CED Ahmedabad, and IICD, Jaipur for continuous improvement.

SAPTI won the “Education Excellence Award 2013” under the category of “Vocational & Skills Training – Best Government Initiative”.

It is often asked how Modi will bring the change; well he has begun by carrying away small stones.

Sandeep Singh, author of ‘Third Curve: Saga of Women and child Development – Gujarat’; www.swastik.net.in

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