With the introduction of favourable government schemes as ‘Make in India’ and talent acquisition projects as ‘Khelo India’, sports equipment manufacturing industry propelled its chance to hit home run in near future. The industry has soared unprecedented peaks after the liberalization of 90s.The traditional belt of sports equipment manufacturing hub which consisted of north Indian states regions of Punjab’s Jalandhar and Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, Kashmir has transcended up to Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and West Bengal. During the financial year of 2017-18, India exported sports goods worth of 1,079 cr. 60% of the sports goods in India are exported, according to the All India Sports Goods Manufacturers Federation. Over the year, Indian sporting accessories have earned a reputation for their product in prestigious sports events such INDIAN as Wimbledon and various international football tournaments.
A promising innings ahead
Sports minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore announced the year of 2018 as the year of sports. The ministry emphasised on the sports sector and saw it as a fertile ground to create employment and generate revenues. Minister Rathore laid out his plans of making India a sports goods hub and urged the private players to take the wheel. He proposed at SportEx. Asia 2018, “we plan to hold a summit of the best sports goods manufacturer of India and the world to deliberate on how and what we need to do to change the policies of the country to make India a manufacturing hub of sports equipment. We plan to make India a force to reckon with in the field of sports and we need support from private sector. Currently, we are focused on two programs- excellence in sports through our Target Olympic Podium Scheme and broad basing of sports through the largest schools game competition- Khelo India.” For 2018-20, the federal government set aside INR 262 million budget for its ‘Khelo India’ (Play India) program. All of these amicable policies will serve as a major booster for the growth of sports accessory in the upcoming future.
Along with favourable government initiatives, cultural shifts are making big waves in sports manufacturing industry. A traditionally cricket-centred country’s sporting goods industry is exploring other areas too. Variants of premier leagues in Badminton and Kabbadi have already garnered an enthusiastic fan base. So much so that international giants like Nike and Adidas are getting intrigued to tap the market through sponsorship and funding.
High hopes, shaky ground
There are many setbacks that can pose a threat to the thriving future that lies ahead. Home grown manufacturers are facing tough competition with the expansion of multinational players like Reebok, Puma and Nike. Rising cost of raw materials is making it difficult to compete with the Chinese products. One of the topmost manufacturing powerhouses of cricket gear, Kashmir is dying out. Kashmir willow which comes second after English Willow is facing existential threat as well. Half of the production units in the Jammu belt have been reported to be shut down. Usual traits of developing economy are halting the growth too. There is not enough professional management. The presence of research facility is pretty low. In Meerut, only 20% of the production units are mechanized. Environmental cost of the manufacturing needs to be taken into account. Developed countries have stringent policies regarding salvaging the environment and Indian products many times don’t meet those protocols. As a result, India’s sports goods can lose global market share. Sports manufacturer in India is still far behind when it comes to innovating biodegradable apparels and accessories .Most of the sports gears are produced from small units and their production volume is low.
How to up the ante
From behalf of government, more tax exemption and location-based incentive should be introduced. Customer expectation and grievances should be given more attention. Government has mposed a ban on free flow of raw material from the remote location of Kashmir, North-East and Andaman and Nikobar Island. Such regulations are detrimental to the growth of local manufacturers. Sports manufacturing industry employs around 500,000 people around the country. The sports goods umbrella needs to accommodate more products under it. India produces only 20-25% of the internationally recognized sport gears. Diversifying the market should be an immediate priority to the manufacturers to stay in competition. In India, fitness gear doesn’t come within the bracket of sports goods which is becoming incredibly popular. Fitness gear should be counted as sports gear to paint of whole picture the respective industry.
Despite the limitation and in adequate infrastructure, sports manufacturing industry has a promising future. Even the global recession couldn’t halt its growth. This financial year, the commerce ministry predicted 8-9% growth for sports and fitness equipment. But India’s rising enthusiasm for fitness and growing interest in non-mainstream sports promise a lot of potential for growth.
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