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India’s textiles sector is one of the oldest industries in Indian economy dating back several centuries. Even today, textiles sector is one of the largest contributors to India’s exports with approximately 13 per cent of total exports. The textiles industry is also labour intensive and is one of the largest employers. The textile industry has two broad segments. First, the unorganised sector consists of handloom, handicrafts and sericulture, which are operated on a small scale and through traditional tools and methods. The second is the organised sector consisting of spinning, apparel and garments segment which apply modern machinery and techniques such as economies of scale.
The textile industry employs about 105 million people directly and indirectly. India's overall textile exports during FY 2017-18 stood at US$ 37.74 billion. The Indian textiles industry is extremely varied, with the hand-spun and hand-woven textiles sectors at one end of the spectrum, while the capital intensive sophisticated mills sector at the other end of the spectrum.
The decentralised power looms/ hosiery and knitting sector form the largest component of the textiles sector. The close linkage of the textile industry to agriculture (for raw materials such as cotton) and the ancient culture and traditions of the country in terms of textiles make the Indian textiles sector unique in comparison to the industries of other countries. The Indian textile industry has the capacity to produce a wide variety of products suitable to different market segments, both within India and across the world.
The Indian textiles industry, currently estimated at around US$ 150 billion, is expected to reach US$ 230 billion by 2020. The Indian Textile Industry contributes approximately 2 per cent to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 10 per cent of manufacturing production and 14 per cent to overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
The production of cotton in India is estimated to increase by 9.3 per cent year-on-year to reach 37.7 million bales in FY 2017-18. The total area under cultivation of cotton in India is expected to increase by 7 per cent to 11.3 million hectares in 2017-18, on account of expectations of better returns from rising prices and improved crop yields during the year 2016-17.
Indian exports of locally made retail and lifestyle products grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 per cent from 2013 to 2016, mainly led by bedding bath and home decor products and textiles.
The textile industry in India traditionally, after agriculture, is the only industry that has generated huge employment for both skilled and unskilled labour in textiles. The textile industry continues to be the second-largest employment generating sector in India. It offers direct employment to over 35 million in the country. The share of textiles in total exports was 11.04% during April–July 2010, as per the Ministry of Textiles. During 2009–2010, the Indian textile industry was pegged at US$55 billion, 64% of which services domestic demand. In 2010, there were 2,500 textile weaving factories and 4,135 textile finishing factories in all of India.