Govt looks to position khadi as 'Indian brand' with bigger play abroad
New Delhi: The government is eyeing massive international exposure for khadi by positioning it as an "Indian brand" which only the KVIC is entitled to promote or claim as its own, along with a bigger footprint in foreign missions and exhibitions, a senior official has said.
The move may throw a spanner in the works of companies, especially foreign firms that are trying to register khadi as a trademark.
A German company, named Khadi Natureprodukte GbR, had registered 'khadi' as a trademark with the European agency, OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market). Spain-based OHIM is the nodal agency looking after trademarks and design registration in the European Union.
A meeting chaired by Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu with top officials from several government departments was held last week to chalk out the strategy for promoting khadi as an exclusively Indian brand using an institutional mechanism, and measures to boost exports of products made using the indigenous hand-spun fabric.
"We need to have a proper branding, we are now discussing that with the commerce ministry. Once you start branding khadi as an Indian product, as something only the KVIC is entitled to promote or claim as its own, then the other people would not really do that," MSME Secretary Arun Kumar Panda said in an interview.
"The commerce ministry also has an institutional mechanism about branding and they said they are going to also help us in getting the khadi brand promoted internationally," the MSME secretary said, adding that secretaries from other government departments including commerce, DIPP, textiles and chemicals were also present in the meeting coordinated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.
India Brand Equity Foundation (IBRF) is a trust established by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. IBEF's primary objective is to promote and create international awareness of the 'Made in India' label in markets overseas and to facilitate dissemination of knowledge of Indian products and services.
"(For) khadi, we are trying to have more international exposure, more export, bigger footprint in international exhibitions and in missions abroad," Panda said, adding the MSME ministry was also thinking that a detailed road map in this regard should be formulated with the help of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade.
The MSME Ministry which exercises administrative control over the KVIC is also working towards positioning of niche khadi products within the country like 'premium and super premium', in an endeavour to further boost sales of products made using the hand-woven fabric by ushering in a change in the mindset of millennials or young adults, Panda said, adding "khadi can be a top notch absolutely fashionable product."
According to him, sales of khadi products may witness a quantum jump in the current financial year ending March 2019 on the back of initiatives taken by the government.
"We are expecting quite a considerable jump (in sales of khadi products), minimum 40 to 50 per cent jump on a broader base," the MSME secretary said.
The MSME secretary said efforts were being made for opening khadi outlets abroad based on a franchisee-based revenue sharing model, under which the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) may enter into agreements with big stores, as one of the strategies involved in branding the products as 'Indian'.