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Strategic interventions to enhance competitiveness: a case of Surat zari industry in India

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Surat zari industry is one of the oldest industries in Surat (Gujarat state in the western part of India) dating back to the sixteenth century. It enjoys the status of cottage industry since 1955. Zari is an intermediate product broadly catering to two end-user industries—textiles industry including handicrafts and the fashion industry. It is largely a family-owned, community-based, skilled-oriented, fragmented industry, with a very low level of automation, experiencing intensive rivalry. Zari making involves a series of inter-related closely guarded processes, which are passed on from generation to generation. Some of the issues and challenges that the industry is facing today are related to the traditional mindset of the entrepreneurs, quality, lack of standardization of processes and marketing. The paper discusses the possible strategic interventions as also the cluster approach to enhance competitiveness of the industry.

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This paper has been developed after several protracted meetings with the experts in the field and multiple visits to various zari units in Surat. Moreover, the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Surat, also provided support in supplying relevant data. While arranging a series of meetings with various people in the field, an iterative process was followed. Though the authors interacted with a number of people associated with zari industry, they are especially indebted to the following for their views and reviews to help us refine the text. (1) Mr. Ranjit Gilitwala, the then President, SJGPCS Ltd., Surat; former, Mayor, Surat Municipal Corporation and presently, Minister for Cottage Industry, Gujarat State. (2) Mr. Shashikant Rana, Convener—Staff Committee, SJGPCS Ltd., Surat and President, Surat Zari Manufacturers Association, Surat. (3) Mr. Ramanbhai T. Jariwala, President, All India Federation of Zari Industry, Surat. (4) Mr. Shantilal A. Jariwala, Former Secretary, Zari Action Committee, Surat, Presently President, SJGPCS Ltd., Surat. (5) Mr. Dhansukhbhai Jariwala, Past President, Surat Zari Manufacturers Association, Surat. (6) Mr. Deveshbhai Jariwala, Past President, Surat Zari Manufacturers Association, Surat. (7) Mr. Bipinbhai Jariwala, Secretary, SJGPCS Ltd., Surat. (8) Mr. S. P. Agrawal, Assistant Director, Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, GOI, Surat. (9) Mr. Ramanbhai Jariwala, Entrepreneur.

Author information

Correspondence to Manish Sidhpuria.


Appendix 1: Checklist for conducting in-depth interviews


  1. 1.

    What are your views about the location of the industry in residential area?

  2. 2.

    If the units are located in industrial estate, do you think it will help you improve your working conditions?

  3. 3.

    Do you think the location in industrial estate will help you deal safely with hazardous chemicals?

Product/process improvement

  1. 1.

    Is there any possibility to improve the quality of product?

  2. 2.

    Did you put in any efforts to improve the quality of product?

  3. 3.

    Do you think somebody can help you in this matter? Who? In what way?

  4. 4.

    Is there any possibility to improve the quality of process?

  5. 5.

    Did you put in any efforts to improve the quality of process?

  6. 6.

    Do you think somebody can help you in this matter? Who? In what way?

  7. 7.

    Do you know of any agency/institution that works in this area?


  1. 1.

    What percentage of your production are you able to sell in local market? (textiles)

  2. 2.

    Did you really explore the possibility of selling zari locally?

  3. 3.

    What should be done according to you to sell zari in local market?

  4. 4.

    What efforts could be made to increase the usage of zari?

  5. 5.

    What efforts do you put to find newer applications/uses?

  6. 6.

    Where are your major customers located?

  7. 7.

    What kind of products do your buyers produce/make?

  8. 8.

    What type of demand do you experience in each of these product categories?

  9. 9.

    Do you really make efforts to find new customers and new markets?

  10. 10.

    Are you really able to find new customers/new geographical markets?

  11. 11.

    Do you think somebody can help you in this matter? Who? In what way?

  12. 12.

    Do you know of any agency/institution that works in this area?

Branding and Trademark development

  1. 1.

    Is branding necessary?

  2. 2.

    What benefits could accrue to manufacturers through branding?

  3. 3.

    Who do you think could create a brand? Manufacturer/Industry?

  4. 4.

    Should you develop Trademark individually or through collaborative efforts?


  1. 1.

    Is there a need to develop Product/Process Standards?

  2. 2.

    Importance/significance of using certification from govt. approved agencies such as MANTRA.

  3. 3.

    Is co-operative R&D necessary for standardization? Have you made any efforts in the past?

  4. 4.

    Can anybody help you in this regard? In conducting R&D? Financing?

Quality assurance measures

  1. 1.

    Do you think quality assurance of product is necessary?

  2. 2.

    Do you have your own scientific quality assurance system?

  3. 3.

    Did you put in any efforts to set up such system?

  4. 4.

    Who do you think can help you in this matter?

  5. 5.

    Why facilities offered by MANTRA, Zari Sanshodhan Kendra are rarely availed?

Appendix 2: Checklist used for committee members of Surat Jari association

  1. Q1.

    Facilities present with the industry:

    1. (a)

      Quality checks—

    2. (b)


    3. (c)

      Packaging Research/Institute for exports—

    4. (d)

      Export Promotion Council—

  2. Q2.

    Any system that would help disseminate new technology/process/skills—

  3. Q3.

    Joint efforts in the area of technology/processes up gradation

  4. Q4.

    Do you have skilled manpower

  5. Q5.

    Basis of competition

  6. Q6.

    The rate of setting up of new units

  7. Q7a.

    Environment of trust for co-operation

    1. (1)

      Working towards a big order for exports—

    2. (2)

      Purchase raw materials—

    3. (3)

      For manufacturing—

  8. Q7b.

    Challenges in purchase of raw materials and ways to overcome

  9. Q7c.

    Research and development

  10. Q7d.


  11. Q7e.


  12. Q8.

    Are there any linkages between units

  13. Q9.

    Barriers for new entrants

  14. Q10.

    Is there any institution related to product/process development

  15. Q11.

    The level of co-operation among firms in the industry

    1. (1)

      To fulfil the requirement of big orders for export—

    2. (2)

      Buying of raw materials—

    3. (3)


    4. (4)


    5. (5)


  16. Q12.

    Is there sharing of any techniques of production

  17. Q13.

    Export of Zari from Surat

  18. Q14.

    The cost of investment

  19. Q15.

    What would be the benefits if cluster is developed?

  20. Q16.

    Any Institution providing you with funds

  21. Q17.

    Any marketing support provided

  22. Q18.

    Any production support from any institution

  23. Q19.

    The drivers for development of a cluster

    Areas Driver 1 Driver 2 Driver 3
    Buying of raw materials    
  24. Q20.

    The preparedness for the development of clusters

    1. (i)


    2. (ii)

      Bank A/C—

    3. (iii)

      Corpus/seed capital on joint basis—

    4. (iv)

      Visit to other clusters—

    5. (v)

      Corpus for new materials—

    6. (vi)

      Common facilities—

    7. (vii)

      Sample development facility—

    8. (viii)

      Participation in fairs and exhibitions—

    9. (ix)

      Participation in buyer sellers meet—

    10. (x)

      Catalogue development—

    11. (xi)

      Website development—

    12. (xii)

      Collaborations with other bigger units—

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Garg, R., Sidhpuria, M. Strategic interventions to enhance competitiveness: a case of Surat zari industry in India. AI & Soc 30, 235–249 (2015).

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  • Surat Zari Industry
  • Cluster approach
  • Strategic interventions
  • Unorganized sector
  • Competitiveness
  • Trust