Ludhiana is one of India’s most significant centres for knitwear production with its prime focus on woollen knitwear. 85 to 90% of the demand for woollen products in India is met by Ludhiana. Industries in Ludhiana exports at least 30% of their manufactured goods and 70% of the goods are sent across the country.
With over 12,000 small and large hosiery units in Ludhiana (including some unorganized units), this business is driven mainly by migrant workers. Some of the country’s top woollen brands originated from Ludhiana. But now, the hosiery industry which was once blooming and rising has depreciated a lot over the years.
Many factories have been facing competition from Chinese products which are comparatively cheaper, better in quality, better in design and have occupied over 20% of Ludhiana’s market. Chinese sweaters, caps, gloves and blankets have become the rage in and around Ludhiana. Ludhiana’s hosiery sector being highly unorganized lacks the latest machines and skilled manpower, so it’s been under a lot of pressure. Also, weather conditions are a huge factor contributing to the success or failure of the hosiery industry. The other major issues include increasing raw material costs, costly power, difficulties in acquiring financial support from credible financial institutions, costly labour and shortage of skilled workers.
Many of the old industrialists have made a switch to the manufacturing of trousers and shirts. From manufacturing conventional goods like sweaters, caps, the hosiery industry has made a sudden shift to producing t-shirts, jeans and much more. This is done to create a high demand among the buyers and it also opens new competition among the producers in the market from different parts of the country. Due to the absence of state government support and a hugely lopsided taxation system, goods produced in Punjab face a serious disadvantage. Ludhiana also has no local sources for acquiring raw materials and often faces the problems of shortage of raw materials or buying raw materials at high prices.
Currently, due to the COVID-19 situation and farmer’s protests (buyers from Delhi, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are unable to buy from the city), so there has been a negative impact on the sales.
Also, the demand has been less as people are already struggling with their finances and there have been numerous lockdowns, which further contribute to the deterioration of the hosiery industry in the city.
If strict measures are not taken and effective policies aren’t introduced, we can look at many industrial units getting shut down and going out of business. The government of Punjab has made negligible efforts to improve the situation and has almost ignored the entire industry.
Author: Vanshika Jain