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Dear Mumbai Mirror, Smriti Irani is a tale that needs to be told, and probably retold

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Dear Mumbai Mirror Editor,

Nobel winner and writer of the classic The Stranger, Albert Camus had said… maybe it is not about the ending, but the story. And Smriti Irani is a tale that needs to be told and probably retold till people really understand how a middle-class girl by the sheer dint of her hard work rose in the ranks of a rather patriarchal society fighting insurmountable odds.

More so, the present textile minister, despite launching gritty initiatives like 39 percent increase in allocation for the remission of state levies (ROSL) in the Budget, resuscitated the export of textiles as she found small steps that went a big way in achieving her goal of making India proud globally.

She was the fountainhead of the sustainability movement that urged youngsters to abandon neoprene and embrace what’s truly Indian – cotton. But sometimes silent voices get dimmed by the archlights of national politics, where the stage is bigger and players often more vociferous even though her thought process on making “garments without guilt” and urging manufacturers to use organic dyes were applaud worthy. As well as a proposed Rs 100 cr textile park for Karnataka and Rs 5 crore for a yarn bank to aid silk weavers.

A simple research will tell you how instrumental Smriti Irani has been, in starting garment manufacturing centres in the northeast under the North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme employing locals youth, which also in turn, subtly handled the largely growing insurgency problems. The total of Rs 690 crores made 21 Readymade Garment manufacturing (RMG) units in seven states up and about.

I personally find the minister adept at social media and ingenious in thinking about campaigns that resonate with the psyche of millennials, cutting across all age groups. Her campaign on Twitter under the hashtag #CottonIsCool was an earnest attempt to throw the spotlight on the fact that India is the largest cotton producing country in the world.

The Selfie-with-Handloom also made wearing handlooms once considered coarse and not malleable finally reach the wardrobe of not just the Left-wing intellectuals, but also young fashionable, gown loving women who often forget that the sari is not a sorry silhouette, but has immense socio-economic-cultural relevance. Interestingly, 43 lakh weavers are part of the textile industry and 78% of them are women making the oft-called second sex the first one here.

Even though Smriti is no longer holding two portfolios, a few who think that it’s the autumn of her roller-coaster career are mistaken. As Camus says, “Autumn is the second spring, when every leaf is a flower.”

Think about it.


Pratibha Pandey

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