Many gem & jewellery clusters can be export hubs under ODOP
Colin Shah, Chairman, Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, is confident that inclusion in ODOP will help address many challenges of the labour-intensive industry such as quality infrastructure, technology, skill development; financial support, logistics and market access.
IBT: What is your perspective on the One District One Product scheme? What benefits is it likely to usher in for the Indian economy?
Colin Shah: ODOP concept has been implemented and has been successful in Japan and other Asian countries. I believe that ODOP will be a success in India as the government is committed to support local exporters and traders to scale up manufacturing and find potential buyers outside India. The Government is also addressing bottlenecks for exporting of these products. Moreover, this will also result in generating additional employment for the people of that particular district/region.
GJEPC’s recent cluster mapping study of the gem and jewellery industry undertaken with National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), has identified 390 districts of India as G&J clusters. As of now, only Jaipur district in Rajasthan has been included in the ODOP scheme for the gem and jewellery sector. Similar to Jaipur there are several other districts with gem and jewellery clusters which, if included in ODOP scheme, can be of great potential to boost the economy.
There is potential to develop Surat for cut and polished diamonds in Gujarat, Kolkata for gold jewellery in West Bengal, Azamgarh and Sitapur for silver and gold in Uttar Pradesh, Firozpur for silver and gold jewellery in Punjab, Bagalkot for plain gold jewellery in Karnataka, Madurai for plain gold jewellery in Tamil Nadu, Thrissur for plain and studded gold jewellery in Kerala.
Many more such districts can be developed as a gem and jewellery manufacturing hubs with export potential if included in ODOP scheme. I would like to urge the government to consider gem and jewellery products from other districts from across the country in the ODOP scheme. This would provide fillip to this labour-intensive industry and help in preserving and developing our traditional and centuries old art of jewellery making.
IBT: How have different states/districts performed under the ODOP scheme? Can you please share with us in brief about any successful case study in this regard?
Colin Shah: Uttar Pradesh was the first to start the scheme. The state had also organised an ODOP virtual fair where a total of 1,000 sellers were registered on the virtual platform and buyers from 35 countries participated in the fair. I think it is not yet time to gauge the performance of the scheme as last year was impacted by the pandemic, and the year 2021 is no different as we continue to be affected by the second wave of pandemic in India. The performance will pick up steam once everything gets stable and are back to normal.
IBT: In your opinion, what are the key gaps in the export ecosystem at the district level and how can they be filled to achieve better results under this scheme?
Colin Shah: The idea behind ODOP is to make districts self-reliant (Aatmanirbhar). I am sure the government. would facilitate the districts with the right kind of infrastructure and technology to get the desired results.
In the gem and jewellery industry, 80 to 90% are MSMEs. Largely being an unorganised sector, the challenges are many. There is a gap in quality infrastructure and technology. Also, there is a need for technology upgradation and skill development; finance support; State Industrial Policy Reforms; and support in raw material procurement, logistics and market access.
GJEPC with the support of Government of India has developed ‘Common Facility Centres’ in select clusters of Gujarat to support the diamond cluster with upgraded manufacturing. It also plans to develop 6 additional ones across India for other gem and jewellery products.
I am confident that with the implementation of ODOP, most of the challenges of the labour-intensive industry would be addressed by the government.
IBT: According to the media, e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay are being roped in to encourage MSMEs to be online under the ODOP. What is the potential of these platforms for gem and jewellery, and how is GJEPC exploring it?
Colin Shah: The pandemic has brought a paradigm shift in the way businesses were conducted globally. It has vastly accelerated digital adoption and virtual platforms or e-commerce is the demand of the day. GJEPC has led this revolution in the gem & jewellery sector and virtual trading platforms were established in the last 6 months. This mode is determined to provide impetus to the Indian gem & jewellery sellers on the global e marketplace and explore potential business collaborations for facilitating sectoral growth.
GJEPC has also collaborated with e-Bay to boost the retail exports of gem and jewellery from India. As per the association, e-Bay will facilitate awareness workshops/ webinars/ seminars to educate GJEPC members about e-commerce retail export opportunities and train them on policies and best practices in product listings, selling, shipping, and customer services. It will also provide information on cross-border trade, such as market studies, latest design trends, standards and specifications etc. This will be supportive towards augmenting trade and exports in the current scenario.
Additionally, GJEPC has been pursuing the Indian government for a comprehensive e-commerce policy for the gem and jewellery sector. The Council has been working with different stakeholders to work out a channel which can aid the gem & jewellery exporters in catalogue selling where goods are manufactured after receiving order and shipped to the consumer across geographies through fast-track delivery.
IBT: How are you planning to ensure that the beneficiaries of the ODOP scheme produce products of world class quality? What can be done to promote the exports of these goods?
Colin Shah: Setting up Common Facility Centres in each of these districts with state of the art machinery is one of the ways to enhance product quality. We, in the gem and jewellery sector, have plans to set up CFCs in gem and jewellery clusters across the country. So far, with the support of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, GJEPC has set up CFCs in Amreli, Junagadh, Visnagar and Palanpur in Gujarat. CFCs in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Rajkot, Jaipur, Delhi, and Coimbatore are planned in Phase II. A ‘Jewellery Park’ is also in the anvil in Mumbai.
On the promotional front, it needs to be ensured that these products get the maximum exposure through participation in Buyer Seller Meets, showcasing them at international shows and also support towards marketing them at global platforms and media to boost demand for Made in India products
IBT: How can investments be enhanced to promote ODOP?
Colin Shah: Government grants and aids towards organising Focused Buyer Seller Meets, setting up Jewellery Parks, CFCs and substantial support towards establishing the presence of the products in key exporting markets through channelized promotion focused towards ODOP would help the sector gain advantage in the global marketplace.
Colin Shah is the Chairman of Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). He founded Kama Jewelry in 1996 at the age of 26. Eleven years later, in 2007, Kama Schachter was formed in a joint venture with Leo Schachter Diamonds in an effort to become vertically integrated. Today, Kama Schachter ranks amongst the top ten manufacturers and exporters of diamond jewelry in Asia. Kama’s talented, flexible, multi-cultural workforce numbering 800 in three factories in India and in sales offices in the diamond bourse in Mumbai, Chennai and New York, serves the major markets of India, USA, Europe, Middle East and Australia.
Colin is the recipient of many industry accolades and plays a leadership role in many organizations, including the Gem & Jewelry Export Promotion Council of India, the Seepz Gem and Jewelry Manufacturers Association and the Young President Organization and the Entrepreneurs Organization. Views expressed are personal.