New GJF Chiefs Strive to take the Industry Forward
The All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) appointed Nitin Khandelwal as Chairman and Pramod Agarwal as Vice Chairman for a period of two years.
Nitin Khandelwal, Khandelwal Jewellers (Akola) Pvt. Ltd. has been closely associated with GJF since its inception. Over the years, he has successfully conceptualized and executed innovative programmes for the benefit of the Industry.
Pramod Agrawal, Derewala Jewellery Industries Ltd.(Jaipur) has a vision to create a benchmarks in gold, silver and fashion jewellery that reflects excellence in design and artistry. He is focused on innovations and visualizing future trends, for the benefit of the industry.
Manpreet Kaur of Floroscent interviewed both the chiefs, they talked about their plans and vision to take the industry forward. Floroscent extend heartiest congratulation to both. Excerpts from the Interview:
Floroscent: How do you feel about becoming the Chairman of GJF?
Nitin Khandelwal: I am indeed honored by the opportunity given to me to lead the industry’s apex body which is one of the most prestigious organizations in the industry. Given this great responsibility of helming the affairs at GJF, I am committed to further the growth of this organization with the help of the newly elected zonal heads and Committee of Administration of GJF. I believe that the industry must remain united and together to achieve greater prominence and growth for the Gems & Jewellery sector.
Pramod Derewala: I am feeling really good. I was always ready to work for trade. So, it is my privilege to work for the growth of this pivotal trade organization and contribute my vision for the development of its member jewellers across region. There is a need for the industry to become more organized and compliant. GJF will continue to create better and newer platforms for the industry”.
Floroscent: What are the challenges facing the Gem and Jewellery Industry today?
Pramod Derewala said, “The industry faces many problems due to several reorganizational processes and transformations. The government is in the process of transforming the entire economy. As you must have heard about demonetization which is good for the country, that is impacting the industry a lot. We hope that in long run, the industry will flourish again.” Talking about GST, Nitin Khandelwal added, “We welcome GST, but we request the government that it should be trader friendly. The second challenge is about the Hallmarking. It is a great step, but we don’t want any kind of Inspector Raj or fear. It should be business friendly.
Floroscent: What is GJF doing to address these challenges?
Nitin Khandelwal said, “We wish to grow our members and membership. We have taken up many projects that are interactive in nature and there are leadership projects and have all the organized members in the association. I want to change the mindset of the government about the gem and jewelley sector and look at it as one of the ancient businesses in the world. When the idols from the time period of Mohenjodaro were discovered, did they discover clothes or other things? No! The first thing to resurface was their jewellery. Our industry contributes to the 6% of the GDP. This sector has 60% of the woman employment and more than 1 crore of total employment. Even the labour, if not literate, is extremely skilled. So, I want that the gem and jewellery sector should get what it deserves.” Talking about his priorities about addressing the problems, Pramod Derewala said, “My priority is to organize the industry as per the rules and policies of the government. The policies which are not favorable for the trade, we need to request the government to make amendments in the policies in which the government doesn’t lose any revenue and a businessman can do a hurdle free business.”
Floroscent: What do you have say about the ‘Change in attitude’ of government regarding Demonetisation, Digital Transactions, and Hallmarking?
Pramod Derewala responded, “I think what we need to do is to change our attitude of working. In our industry, we need to devise certain methodologies according to which we work closely with all the government policies, right now as well the ones that will come in the future. Address the challenges which are there today so that we don’t face them tomorrow. And this can be done by changing the way we work. Like the issue of Hallmarking. We need to figure out what should be done and how it should be done so that smooth business is carried on and the public doesn’t get cheated. The businessmen should not be harassed.” Nitin Khandelwal wishes to change the image of the jewelers in the eyes of the government.
Floroscent: What do you propose GJF to do to help in promote trade in such an environment?
Pramod Derewala addressed various issues and said, “The duty is a major issue only if the government decreases the duty on the raw materials. That will definitely improve the regular business in the country. So the government should focus on reducing the import duty on gold. Cashless transaction is really good. We support it. If we really need to make everything cashless, then it is necessary that first all the rulers are corrected. There should be tax free income, when the money is official. They believe in liquid money. They don’t know much about the plastic cards, so for them cash is important. Now, in such a situation it becomes hard to say whether it’s black money or not because there is no cash on that. So government is actually working hard to correct everything. So, let’s see. We welcome the cashless process and the transparency.”
Floroscent: What will be your priorities for the coming two years and how will you achieve them?
Nitin Khandelwal talked about the relationship with the government. He said, “There should be a change in the relationship with the government. There should be work on the federations all over India in the process of uniting all the organizations. In small cities, where the work is done in an unorganized manner, we want to organize them, to provide them proper training. With the help of LAABHAM, we are doing it at least in 30 cities in a year. We hold up meet ups for the manufacturers and the retailers. We try to organize the meetings for the buyers and the sellers. For increasing the beneficiary, we also give the National Jewellery Award.”
Floroscent: Please tell us about GJF’s up-coming initiatives to bolster consumer confidence and increase transparency in the industry in future?
Nitin Khandelwal, answered this question and said, “We want to increase the ethical business practices. Hallmarking is a very good way for doing that. We want to organize all the players in the industry. If the GST rates increase, then it will become a very difficult process for us to carry it out.”
Floroscent: Do you think that Synthetic diamonds are reaching epidemic levels and how does GFJ propose to handle it at the retail and consumer level?
Both Pramod Derewala and Nitin Khandelwal said that they don’t have any problem with synthetic diamonds, provided all rules are followed. Pramod Derewala said, “I don’t have issues with the synthetic diamonds or their sales. But, stones should be certified and there should be a proper disclosure in the sales. There should be a certificate and proper identification given to the customer, whether this original or synthetic. The customers should know about everything.” “Do what you say and say what you do,” said Nitin Khandelwal.
Floroscent: What is the future of the Industry as well as the lakh of workers employed in this industry keeping the current situation in mind?
Pramod Derewala said, “As our Hon’ble PM said to give him some time, so we are also waiting to see about the change and what better happens in the coming months. The fact of the situation is that we also have to take care of the workers’ lives. We have to pay the regulated ESI PF to all the workers, because they have family to take care of. So, for me the policies should be such that, that they are better for all the workers.
It’s very difficult to say that how long the slow pace of our sector lasts because out sector comes in the end. When people have extra money to spend, then they come and buy the jewellery. Definitely it will take longer than any other sector.” Nitin Khandelwal foresees a promising future and said, “I see a very good future for the industry. You know, no marriage can happen without jewellery. And marriages will continue to happen. In our country, every special occasion is celebrated with jewellery. So, the future is always promising.”
Floroscent: How can GJF help the industry compete with the international market in terms of skill levels?
Nitin Khandelwal said, “The main challenge that GJF faces with international market is about the import duty. There is a high price which in turn leads to organize smuggling. As about the level of skill, I don’t really see any issue with the workers of our country.”
Nitin Khandelwal gave a concluding advice for the industry and said, “One should always focus on ethical business practices. In the views of the customer as well as the government, gem and jewellery sector should work for building a good image and strive to take the industry forward.” Pramod Derewala added, “It’s time for us to work hand in hand with the government for a hurdle free business.”
The chiefs talked about their expectation from the Union Budget 2017. Nitin Khandelwal said, “I expect that the import duty should be brought down to 5% and it is expected that no new tax should be introduced that may hamper the growth of our industry.” Pramod Derewala talked about his expectations and said, “We will definitely work according to the regulatory as per the framework, so we expect the same from the government.”