On the last day of his long and illustrious career as an IAS officer as well as his last day in office as the Secretary of the Ministry of Textiles (MoT), Sanjay Kumar Panda remains concerned about the industry, even while maintaining his usual composure.
With a smile on his face that clearly reflected his satisfaction over his tenure, a calm and composed Panda held an informal interaction with the media and shared his experience, opinion and achievements.
The Indian handloom sector, which has been his passion and had topped the list of MoT’s achievements, got a lot out of his tenure. “Our minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar and I wanted to serve the weaker section of the society first. So handloom was our priority. But it does not mean that any section of the industry was neglected. We tried to connect handloom with export and made efforts so that buyers can place orders directly for these handloom artisans. Now, Indian exporters can utilize their service better and easier with the CFCs (common facility centers).”
Sanjay has also served for a long time in various senior positions of the Textile Department, Tripura, which explains his thrust to promote the North-East as a textile and garmenting hub for the future.
He accepted that there are some issues which still need to be addressed on priority basis, but lack of sufficient resources remains a hurdle. “Our apparel manufacturers/exporters should work to reduce the cost by increasing productivity. The textile industry should come forward and focus more on the complete value chain. Man-made fibre is a key; so the Indian industry now needs to move in this direction. The current cotton scenario and our dependency on China is something we should avoid,” he said and added that with the amended Technology Fund Upgradation Scheme (TUFS), the apparel industry will get a major push.
He also maintained that the Indian Textile and Apparel industry should think and work from a long-term perspective rather than looking for small gains and short-term targets. He accepted that a heavy 12-per cent excise duty on man-made fibres and imported fabric are still big issues that require support from the government.
“As of now we can’t assure any solution on these issues, but our ministry is aware and continuously working on it,” he added.
On what he would do next after his retirement, he said, ”Not yet decided, but will definitely focus on writing, as I have already written two books and it is my passion,” he said nostalgically.
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