The COVID-19 crisis hit hard the small labor-oriented textile units in India, mostly dependent on the migrant workforce. The pandemic has posed a serious threat to all the sectors of the country’s economy.
So the Indian textile industry faces some severe challenges from maintaining production and addressing the need for protective clothing to cope up with the deficit due to lockdown and retain migrant laborers.
Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the hubs of textile manufacturing in India, are amongst the worst-hit states by the pandemic. Due to the seriousness of the pandemic, the textile units were shut in March. The absence of wages and imminent risk to life made the migrant laborers go back to their respective native places.
Majority of these textile processing units function on a seasonal basis depending on the availability of raw material and the demand for products. These are some of the issues that may affect the production and economic state of the small textile mills, like the availability of raw material, transportation, cash flow, availability of labor, etc.
Due to longer lockdown, smaller textile units, which are more precarious, less capital combined with low production size may lead to shutting down. For the pandemic and the lockdown, migrant laborers have moved back to their native places and are less likely to return soon to work.
In this crisis situation, the textile industry is also motivated to contribute to the fight against coronavirus. As a result, the focus has shifted from aesthetic clothing to functional clothing that imparts protective function to apparel.
In the last two months, the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, gloves and masks has shot up and is expected to rise further. Due to increased domestic demand, India has not started exporting protective gear. Once the production rate rises and the domestic demand is met, India will soon export such items.