Namaskar and good evening!
Respected Joint Secretary Ms. Chinmayee Gopal
Officials from the various Departments of the State Government of Rajasthan
Brothers and Sisters from trade unions
Representatives from the employers organisation and industry associations
A very warm welcome to all of you at this tripartite consultation on “Strategy for Sustainable Development of Natural Stone Industry in Rajasthan’. The ILO has been able to provide technical assistance to Rajasthan with support from Government of Flanders, who are one of the major importing regions of natural stones.
We understand that natural stone industry is of utmost significance to Rajasthan, from employment and revenue perspectives, especially in remote and rural areas. It contributes to other major sectors, notably cement, which is key to infrastructure development of the country.
We see that despite of being blessed with the rich natural endowment, the potential of this industry remains largely untapped in the State and the key reason appears to be the high prevalence of informality.
In recent years, the consciousness and demand in the global market for responsible sourcing has increased, especially among higher-value markets like North America and Europe. Rajasthan is currently feeling the heat of lagging in technology adoption, and any further delay, in meeting with the sourcing standars could limit and deplete the state’s competitive edge.
I must mention that the COVID-19 induced market disruptions in the supply chains, have hit the industry hard, and probably reversed some advancements made in the past.
Against this backdrop, the development of this ‘state-wide tripartite strategy’ holds immense importance. I appreciate the Department of Industries, Government of Rajasthan, for steering this consultative process. It provides an excellent opportunity to government, workers and employers representatives to share their common vision and develop a joint action plan for shaping the future of the natural stone industry.
Most significantly the strategy aspires to align and converge the objectives of growth, and more and better quality of jobs. It does so by demonstrating the link in productivity and working conditions for sustaining and enhancing global competitiveness. I am certain that with everyone’s contribution it will transform Rajasthan into a responsible sourcing and investment destination for natural stones.
To present the countdown of the steps leading to today’s consultative stage – the strategy builds on the primary field study in Rajasthan carried out by ILO in the first quarter of 2020. This was followed by another study in the second quarter of 2020 on the international purchasing practises, which are likely to have a bearing on Rajasthan’s industry.
Subsequently, both studies were combined as one comprehensive study that was shared with a few stakeholders in the state in November 2020 for validation.
From December 2020 till February 2021, we held a series of bilateral consultations with stakeholders to include their position and expectations from the proposed ‘state-wide strategy’.
Based on all the inputs received, the ILO has prepared a draft outline of the proposed strategy. In today’s meeting we will present this and take our discussion to the next level. We are hoping to move forward with consensus building among the workers, employers and government on the various elements of the proposed strategy and a timeline for its finalisation and adoption.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank each one of you, especially our trade union and employers’ partners, for your time, despite an extremely demanding schedule. Your contributions at various stages of this journey have indeed been extremely valuable and I expect it continues the same way to ensure successful implementation of the proposed strategy.
I hope for a very stimulating and productive discussion today, which will be truly reflective of the interests of workers and employers, whom you represent, in order to develop a state strategy that will emphasize the need to ‘Act local, reach global’.
In closing, let me emphasize that the need of the hour is a collaborative action between workers, employers and government to strengthen supply chains and sustain the competitiveness of the sector, alongside safety and well-being of our primary assets, that is, the workforce.
I am joined by my Deputy, Mr Satoshi Sasaki, who has engaged with you on previous occasions and who will be with you through this consultation.
Thank you for your kind attention.