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International Kite Festival to help in employment generation and support the local economy: SJ Haider, Gujarat’s Principal Secretary Tourism

Tarun Bhardwaj

Gujarat’s International Kite Flying Festival is one of the few prominent kite flying festivals in the world. Master kite flyers from all over the world converge here to participate in the event. Although the kite festival is organised and celebrated for few days but the industry of kite making and allied products such as firki, thread, etc., run almost round the year. The industry is mostly unorganised and it offers huge opportunity and employment potential. Recently there were reports that kite trade has taken a hit and there is a slowdown in the market.

Talking to the Financial Express Online, SJ Haider, Principal Secretary Tourism refuted the report and claimed, “In fact, there has been a spurt in the activity as this kite flying festival gives very good platform to a large number of people here in Gujarat.”

When asked to explain, Haider said, “Some 78,000 kitemakers are employed in the industry and their earning is of the order of Rs 160 crore and then some 6,000 persons are employed in coloring of thread with an earning of Rs 17 crore. Spool and final makers are there, a thousand of them with earning of eight crore and in other accessory making, cottage industry, about 11,000 get employed and the earning is around Rs 22 crore. Similarly, 32,000 retail traders earn around Rs 75 crore. So, about 1.28 lakh persons get employed, partial employment though, and their earning is around Rs 282 crore.”

“This has been the effect on the local economy for the FY 2017. So, I don’t find any slump as such. On the other hand, the activity is picking up and we are very hopeful that this time also, looking at the fervour and the enthusiasm in the entire market, there would be a surge in the activity and it will lead to employment generation giving support to the local economy in a significant way. And automatically to the traders as well,” Haider added.

Haider said that the government of Gujarat has taken steps for the improvement of the industry, mainly through celebrating the event as International Kite Festival across the state. “We are expecting an increase in kite trade this time,” he added.

Talking with Financial Express Online about the role of IKF in promoting Brand Gujarat Jenu Dewan, Commissioner of Gujarat Tourism said that they are coming up with more and more products and events every year and Statue of Unity itself is one big example of that as it is attracting a lot of tourists throughout the last few months since its inauguration.

On the question of IKF’s impact on local economy, Dewan said, “Once a product is launched, the interest of people remains. We have found that it has naturally helped people especially those who are directly related to this particular industry. But since it is a seasonal festival, so I can’t say it is benefitting them economically throughout the year but at least for a good number of months it is helping them.”

“It is not just about people participating here, the entire Ahmedabad city will be flying kites on their terrace top during this time. So, obviously the demand for kites is not limited to the festival only. Tomorrow onwards it will be like the movie Kai Po Che,” Dewan added.

Gujarat’s kite industry consisting of its manufacturers and traders is the biggest in India with a share of 40%. According to estimates, the kite industry in Gujarat employs around 1.28 lakh people. Most of them work during the season while some of them, nearly 28,000 work throughout the year at home. The total estimated turnover of kite industry in Gujarat is worth around Rs 625 crore.

It is roughly estimated that 5% share in the overall activity is just because of the International Kite festival being organised in the state. Thus, it is estimated that the festival may have sustained/increased full/partial employment to around 12,800 persons with incremental income of Rs 31.25 crore.

(The reporter is in Gujarat on the invitation of Gujarat Tourism)