Rajya Sabha passes bill to raise footwear standard to international level
New Delhi: Parliament on Monday approved a bill which aims at promoting the footwear industry and raise its standard to the international level.
The Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill 2017 provides for establishing and declaring the Footwear Design and Development Institute as an institute of national importance for promotion and development of quality and excellence in education in this area. Through the bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote, the government intends to upgrade the Footwear Design and Development Institute to deal with international standards and address the shortage of trained human resource in the sector. It had been passed by the Lok Sabha in April.
Commerce and industry ministry Nirmala Sitharaman said the institute will have 12 campuses of which seven are functional in different parts of the country. They will be declared institutions of national importance, she said. Replying to a debate on the bill, the minister said the need for the legislation was felt to impart training to youth in the footwear industry, which has immense scope. It is also aimed at correcting the error of transferring this national institute to a private institute in Mewar. “I am not bringing party politics but the very party which brought the institute in 1986 could not see its importance and from 2012 to 2014 there were uncertainties... This is to correct their error as youngsters were uncertain of their future,” the minister said.
She said the institute will be of national importance and reputed institutes from the UK, Italy and Germany, besides the Czech Republic, were helping to prepare its curriculum. The minister said it has 2,400 students while its maximum capacity is 8,900. Four lakh youth from weaker sections have been trained by it, she said. This year, she said, the institute will train 1.4 lakh students. She said the government is trying to upscale the process of entrepreneurship development besides augmenting machinery and equipment and reservation policies will be followed.
During her reply, the minister rejected the contention of Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party that the bill was contradictory to the government’s policy on animal slaughter. Yadav said that on the one hand, the government was banning slaughter and cattle movement was restricted, while on the other hand, it speaks of promoting footwear industry. Responding to this, Sitharaman said, “we are trying to reform” the mistakes and sourcing of leather will be done from regulated, authorized and legal centres. The Modi government is putting a check on illegal centres of sourcing leather, Sitharaman said.
Participating in the debate, members cutting across the party supported the bill but expressed concern over an atmosphere been created after new norms on cow slaughter and growing attacks by cow vigilantes. Sitharaman said there was no such atmosphere. “Availability of leather has come down. Unless, we address the issue, this legislation is not fruitful,” said CPM leader C.P. Narayanan. Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD) said, “Our leather industry is going down due to an atmosphere created by cow vigilantes. Please keep this in mind.” Some members also demanded that more such institutes be set up across the country and ensure SC/ST reservation in them.
Some sought setting up of a leather art university to train talent to compete in designs of the world. V. Vijayasai Reddy (YSRCP) sought to know if the degrees from the institute will be given with retrospective from 2012. P.L. Punia (Congress), Vinay Sahasrabuddhe (BJP), Vishambhar Prasad Nishad (SP), Vijila Sathyananth (AIADMK), Manish Gupta (AITC), and Veer Singh (BSP) also participated in the debate. Ram Nath Thakur (JDU) said leather exports are projected to reach $220 billion by 2020 from $198 billion now. M.V. Rajeev Gawda (Congress) cautioned that steps were needed to check commercial exploitation of students.