June 26, 2018, 2:12 AM

LIDCOM (Leather Industries Development Corporation of Maharashtra), on June 20, hosted a leaders’ meet cum exhibition – Charma Kaushalya 2018 – at Tote on the Turf situated at Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai. At the exhibition, a wide range of leather footwear by LIDCOM was launched. The meet also brought together leaders in leather products manufacturing, exporters and suppliers under one roof to discuss ways to give a boost to the leather industry in India.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Rajkumar Badole (Cabinet Minister, Social Justice and Special Assistance) in presence of Rajesh Dhabre (Managing Director, Lidcom), Dinesh Waghmare (Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Special Assistance), Milind Kamble (Chairman, DICCI - Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Santosh Kamble (President, DICCI, Mumbai) and actress Sonali Kulkarni. The event, which was hosted by Khyati Kava, was also attended by stand-up comedian Navin Prabhakar.

Speaking to Nation Next about Charma Kaushalya 2018, Rajesh Dhabre said, “The Corporation has always worked really hard for the upliftment of the Charmakar community. Traditionally, loans were made available to the community by the corporation through different schemes. But these schemes did not yield the desired results. Recently, when I along with Mr Rajkumar Badole and Mr Dinesh Waghmare was in a meeting, we arrived at the conclusion that only a boost to the leather industry would ultimately result in the upliftment of the Charmakar community. It’s an integrated process. To start that process, we thought of organising Charma Kaushalya 2018 and inviting business leaders, suppliers and exporters. Through public and private partnership, we will prepare a project about developing an industrial cluster and we will present the project in front of the central and state government. Through this, our basic motto of ensuring social justice will also be achieved."

LIDCOM, which is a Maharashtra government undertaking, is also itself in the manufacturing of leather products. So, it was great to know that owners of other popular leather products brand were also present during the meet. These owners, in fact, seemed quite happy about the meet. Speaking about the meet and the project to Nation Next, Asif Merchant, Managing Director of Catwalk, said, “I want to congratulate the Government of Maharashtra for taking the lead in this dream project, which will engage 10,000 plus people (in the leather industry) with the help of a cluster, which will further result in a growth of 20% every year. With this cluster, we will initially focus on curbing the 25% of the leather goods India imports from from China. We are very confident that we will beat China hands down once we get an approval from the central government for the cluster. It’s a fantastic initiative. This project was the need of the hour otherwise the leather industry in India would have gradually died. Also, ever since GST has been implemented, the import has become really cheap. So, without this project and with continuing imports from China, we would have been unofficially contributing in boosting China’s income.”

Merchant’s partner Unaid Kathiwala, also expressed his happiness as he told Nation Next, “There are multiple schemes, which are already active for giving a boost to the leather industry. Through his cluster, we hope to form a huge footwear base in Mumbai to be at par with the leather products across the globe, especially in China.”

LIDCOM, which has currently four production units and six stores in Maharashtra, also launched some of its own line of footwear. Speaking about LIDCOM products, Dhabre said, “We work with the motto - Purity in leather and quality in service. Being a government corporation, we don’t work with a profit motive, so we don’t have any compulsion to adulterate leather and sell the product. LIDCOM products will always be associated with purity in leather.” Speaking about the competitors, present at the event, Dhabre said, “There will be sense of competitiveness because they are competing with the same product in the same market. But the market is big enough for all of us. There’s ample demand for footwear. We will be co-operating with each other rather than competing directly. If we succeed in our project, everybody will get benefited.”

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