After a stint of 17 months, Ravi Capoor, Textiles Secretary said goodbye to Ministry of Textiles (MoT). He was on Central deputation from 23 July 2019 till 31 December 2020. The industry believes that after a series of relatively inactive predecessors like Anant Singh, Rashmi Verma, Sanjay Panda, Zohra Chatterjee and Kiran Dhingra, Capoor, during his short period, made a lasting impression and will be remembered for what is called the PPE revolution!
Ravi Capoor’s proactive role in supporting industry to manufacture and export PPE has been appreciated by not only the industry, but also top officers of MoT. Acknowledging his contribution, Textile Minister Smriti Irani and industry leaders open-heartedly praised him during a recent webinar. Smriti Irani who has completed four-and-a-half years as Union Textile Minister worked with three textile secretaries in this tenure and shared that she had the best understanding with Ravi Capoor compared to the other two secretaries.
Being the senior-most officer of MoT, he motivated the industry, especially giant apparel manufacturers to come out of their comfort zone and is credited for bringing about noteworthy results. The thrust was shown by him in the technical textiles segment. In fact 2020 was the year MoT got approval for two major initiatives – National Technical Textile Mission and production-linked incentive (PLI), as well as some policy level decisions which involved the role of other ministers also. Ravi continuously urged the industry to focus more on MMF and technical textiles.
Apart from these above-mentioned initiatives, few other important decisions in which Capoor played a pivotal role included removal of Anti-Dumping Duty on PTA and Acrylic Fibre, and the launch of Kasturi Cotton India brand for Indian cotton. During his tenure, the National Action Plan was also prepared to promote the Indian toy industry including handicrafts and handmade toy products. Those who have listened to him at various public platforms appreciate how clearly focused he has been about the future growth of these segments.
Mega Textile Parks across the country (in 1000 + acres of land) has been another focus area for Ravi Capoor. At the same time, he emphasised on India and Bangladesh not being competitors but rather working collectively to become a regional power in the textile trade.
Prabhu Damodaran, Convenor, Indian Texpreneurs Federation (ITF), based on his numerous personal interactions with Capoor on industry-related issues, shared, “He is an officer who believes in India’s Textile and Apparel sectors’ real potential and is a true reformer. Apart from understanding the real potential, he clearly understood the fact about the need for structural reforms to achieve growth. We used to be amazed with his quick grasping power on even the complex issues within the sector and that helped the sector to discuss and debate on many crucial subjects.”
He further added that Capoor encouraged the younger generation to focus on value addition. Even during his visit to Coimbatore and in an exclusive interaction with ITF younger generation entrepreneurs, he explained and energised all to focus on value-added products and to use technology as a tool to achieve big dreams.
Rahul Mehta, Chief Mentor, CMAI believes that he was the most dynamic and forward-looking secretary, at least in recent few years and was able to understand the pain points of the industry. “We wish he could serve long as Textile Secretary. Whenever we conveyed something logically, he was open to accept it and involved other ministers also for solutions to our problems. He was with the attitude ‘why can’t we (India) do it’.”
An apparel exporter whose facility was visited by Ravi Capoor, told on the condition of anonymity, “The good thing about him was that he was open to listening, I have met many senior officials who would not even listen properly to industry representatives. But Capoor could have done more as far as apparel export industry is concerned. Like most of the bureaucrats, he also had a lack of deep understanding about the real plight of the apparel exporters.”
It is also pertinent to mention here that the last six secretaries of MoT spent less than 2 years in this top position. In last decade, only Rita Menon spent almost three years in the MoT from 1 February 2009 to 31 December 2011.
Apparel Resources had highlighted this issue earlier also to which the industry strongly agreed that looking at the complex supply chain and importance of textile industry, senior bureaucrats should get at least 3 years’ time as any person working at such higher level needs to have a long-term vision.
Now after Ravi Capoor, Arvind Kumar Sharma, presently Secretary, Ministry of MSME, is given the additional charge of Textile Secretary. No doubt, he (Sharma) has proved himself very well in past, but it is for sure that MoT needs more thrust of Government especially now as it is time to execute the recently announced good schemes as well as to further gear up to survive in the ever-challenging business environment.