Textile industry in India: An Overview

The sector for manufacturing textiles in India is second only to agriculture when it comes to providing employment opportunities. It has been estimated that 35 million people work directly in the textile industry, which includes both skilled and unskilled professionals. Shankersinh Vaghela, who has earlier served as a minister in the Union Textile Ministry, has stated that one of the major achievements of the Indian government has been to help in the metamorphosis of this sector from one on the downward slide to one that is now growing by leaps and bounds. In 2010 it was estimated that there were 4,135 finishing factories and 2,500 weaving factories across the country.

The Uplifting

Till 2004-05 the industry was facing several constraints, most of them financial. However, the Union Government did away with them at that time and also permitted the influx of a substantial amount of investment from both within the country as well as outside it. In the period between 2004 and 2008, the industry received an aggregate investment worth 27 billion dollars. It was also expected that by 2012 this figure will reach the 38 billion dollars mark and there would also be 17 million jobs up for grabs. However, the demand for Indian textiles has been falling in the global markets of late.

Major producers

Ludhiana, which is also known as the Manchester of India, is said to produce the maximum amount of textiles made in India, and that can go up to as high as 90 percent of the whole production. Tirupur is also known around the world for its hosiery, casual wear, knitted garments and sportswear. The city of Ichalkaranji is worth mentioning in this regard as well.

Share in India’s exports

The sector has always contributed decently to India’s exports over the years. According to the Union Ministry of Textiles, during April-July 2010, this sector had accounted for 11.04 percent of India’s aggregate exports. In the 2009-10 fiscal, the aggregate worth of the industry was estimated to be at 55 billion US dollars and 64 percent of this amount constituted the demand within India.

Overall production status in the world

India is the second-biggest global producer of fiber related products, and cotton is the major name in this regard. It also produces other forms of fiber such as silk, wool, jute and man-made fibers. However, almost 60% of the industry is based on cotton.

Performance in the last couple of years

In the last couple of years the Indian textile industry has performed well, thanks to the strong demand for its products within the country. The surge started during 2009 and reached a high point in December 2010, when the prices of cotton products were almost 50% more than exactly a year ago. In the last 5 years India has been able to increase its share in the global textile industry by almost 7%. However, the prices have been going up as well and this is a cause of concern for the Indian producers.


The man-made fiber sector uses filament synthetic yarns or fiber to manufacture its products. The production in this industry is done in large factories that employ power looms. This is the biggest sub sector in India’s textile industry – its share has been estimated to be as high as 62% and almost 4.8 million people work in this sub-sector.

After this comes the cotton sector, especially in terms of development. Even though it does employ a lot of people, the whole industry is seasonal as there is a lot of dependence on the production of cotton.

The handloom sector of India is pretty developed as well but it depends on the self-help groups for the financing. Its market share has been estimated to be as high as 13%. The performance of the woolen sector can be understood from the fact that India is responsible for 1.8% of the aggregate wool produced around the world and is thus among the top seven biggest producers.

Also known as the golden fiber, jute is primarily produced in eastern Indian states such as West Bengal and Assam. Regarding the silk sector, it requires a lot of labor and various forms of silk are produced in India – mulberry, tasar, eri and muga. It produces 18% of the total silk required in the world, and is thus the second-biggest producer of this form of textile.

Leading brands

At present the Indian market for textiles has both Indian and international brands. The leading Indian companies in this regard are Bombay Dyeing, Lakshmi Machine Works, FabIndia, Lakshmi Mills, Grasim Industries, Mysore Silk Factory and JCT Limited. The major international textile brands in India are Puma, Levi Strauss, Armani, Hugo Boss, Benetton, Liz Claiborne, Esprit and Crocs.