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Fresh Talent vs Experienced Veterans: Who should Lead Apparel and Textile Trade Bodies?

by Dheeraj Tagra

24-October-2018  |  10 mins read

Apparel and Textile Trade Bodies
Image Courtesy: Apparel Resources

Last few weeks have seen many of the associations going in for the same management team for the next term. Case in Point: 8 EC members of the AEPC, Gurgaon (Apparel Export Promotion Council), the official body of Indian apparel exporters have been reappointed; CITI, Delhi (Confederation of Indian Textile Industry) has opted for the same team for the second term; SIMA, Coimbatore (Southern India Textile Mills Association) office-bearers have been re-elected for the second term; Rahul Mehta has been re-elected as CMAI, Mumbai (The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India) President for 7th term; but only GEAR, Jaipur (Garment Exporters Association of Rajasthan) has a few fresh members in its new working committee. The big question is – Does Indian textile and apparel industry not have any fresh talent to carry forward the tasks of these prominent bodies, or is it good that the same experienced people carry on to lead these various associations?

Apparel Resources raised this issue in the industry and asked from the representatives of various such associations also. Industry opinion, as usual, was interesting. There are two major take-aways from the various opinions. First, veterans claim that all things are as per the rules of the respective trade bodies and opportunities are there for all. Second, many of the industry experts feel that there should be a definite and not a very long period for any of such post. The team of experienced, as well as fresh talent, seems a better option.

Rahul Mehta, President, CMAI, Mumbai told that he had requested to CMAI team to have a new President as he was more than happy to step down, but CMAI members insisted him to continue serving. He informed, “This is for sure that this is my last term as the President. We had some changes made in our core team.” He further added that every association or council has its own set of norms which are quite justified and their office bearers keep changing as per these specified norms. “All such bodies have open elections too and anyone from the industry can participate in these elections. As business is continuously becoming tough and competitive, it is very much required to have such team members in these associations who can devote their time and energy which is not an easy thing. I can manage to have time for the association as my son; other family members and partners are managing my business,” he added.

Ravi Poddar, MD, Cheer Sagar, Jaipur and Past President, GEAR also echoed the similar opinion as he stated, “I feel, we need a combination of new and old members to get fruitful results in any organisation. We need the experience of old members and the ideas of new members to show the results. We at GEAR did the same during our recent change and shift of members.”

Raja Shanmugham, President, Tirupur Exporters’ Association, Tirupur is very clear on this issue and insists on giving a fair chance to the fresh talent. He stated, “Most of the Indian organisations and their office-bearers are very much involved in their day-to-day mundane affairs rather than implementing any long-term vision and suggesting the same to the ministries. I always strongly advocate to bring in fresh talent from everywhere and implement newer strategies. Stalwarts/veterans or persons having a position since long in any such organisation should themselves give a chance to fresh talent with proper support, guidance, and exposure. But unfortunately, this is not happening especially in the required quantum.”

He further adds, “Our trade bodies for sure require young as well as fresh members’ participation at senior level so that new ideas, different kind of approach and working style can be implemented. Otherwise, complaisance will destroy our industry. In the current business scenario, there is a need to save the industry and for that, we have to adopt all methods. Bringing in fresh talent is one of them.”

Ajit Lakra, MD, Super Fine Knitters Limited, Ludhiana and Head, Textile Division, Federation of Industrial & Commercial Organization (FICO); President of the Ludhiana Knitters Association, Ludhiana advocate for a democratic way to get elected for any association. He suggests that no one should serve for more than two years at the helm of any organisation or association and those who have already served should not get a second opportunity.

“By serving again and again for a long-term, one gets used to enjoying the power or position. Misuse of power and fair use of power are two different things. Those holding powerful positions manipulate the things. So, strong democratic action should be implemented strictly. There may be good or expert people at the top, but there is always the option of having better than the best,” Ajit added.

He further informed that it is his second year in FICO and in future, there will be definitely a new person in his place. “I must add here one thing with regard to Ludhiana. There are different associations or trade organisation in the nook and corner of Ludhiana but when it comes to serious and systematic presentation of the issues, few organisations or persons are able to do this. If anybody truly wants to serve the society and he has the knowledge and passion for the same, no position or organisation is required. It’s all about coming forward to serve,” says Ajit.

Issue is not only about representation, it is also about participation in association activities as Prabhu Damodaran, Convenor, Indian Texpreneurs Federation (ITF), Coimbatore insists that members of such associations should take an active part in the association’s activities. “Overall, I have observed that the majority of the entrepreneurs are not giving much importance to association meetings and events and are just sending their senior working professionals ahead. If more members involve themselves, automatically new talents and faces will emerge to lead. Seniors in any association are definitely ready to guide the new faces, so change should come from the other side, particularly the younger generation,” said Prabhu.

Rikhil Nagpal, Vice Chairman, Textile Association (India), Delhi unit; Head of Department, College of Fashion & Interior Design, SDPS Women’s College, Indore who had the opportunity to work with the Textile Association (India), Delhi unit says that they have a fair system as even our President can also be retained maximum for two terms, which means for four years only. “Not only our President, the governing council members, and trustee members also do change from time to time. Even in our recent committee, we have had few fresh faces with nominal or very less experience,” he explained.

Rikhil strongly believes that there is enough talent in the industry and the young generation must have the requisite experience, knowledge, and passion required to represent any such prestigious organisation which is not an easy thing. “The young professionals should come forward and be a part of such organisations as it is a good learning platform for them to have a better understanding of the industry. There are many industry veterans in our unit who have earlier served in official positions and after leaving those positions, they guided and supported the association very well,” Rikhil concluded.