Small Scale Industries: An Important Catalyst for the Growth of India’s Economy
The definition for small-scale industrial undertakings has changed over time.Initially they were classified into two categories- those using power with less than 50 employees and those not using power with the employee strength being more than 50 but less than 100. However the capital resources invested on plant and machinery buildings have been the primary criteria to differentiate the small-scale industries from the large and medium scale industries. An industrial unit can be categorized as a small- scale unit if it fulfils the capital investment limit fixed by the Government of India for the small-scale sector.
According to 2001 census, Small scale industrial units are those engaged in the manufacture, processing or preservation of goods and whose investment in plant and machinery (original cost) does not exceed Rs.1 crore. These would, inter alia, include units engaged in mining or quarrying, servicing and repairing of machinery
Small Scale Industries are located throughout the country, though predominantly in the rural areas. The small scale industries in the rural areas are skill based, wherein the skill for manufacturing is passed on from one generation to another. Some of the goods manufactured in these units are textile handicrafts, woodcarving, stone carving, metal ware etc. Small scale industrial factories are also present in urban areas and usually they account for the maximum volume of production for that particular good.
For e.g. Ludhiana in the state of Punjab is the main center in the country for producing woolen hosiery, sewing machine parts, bicycles and its parts, similarly Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu accounts for small scale firms that are involved in spinning, weaving and dying of cotton garments.
The importance of cottage industries in the Indian economy was first understood by our first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The development of such small scale industries infused much needed production efficiency into the rural Indian economy. The Cottage Industries also helped the agricultural workers to have a better quality of life. This is due to the additional profits generated by the farming community.
The traditional small-scale industries clearly differ from their modern counterparts in many respects. The traditional units are highly labor consuming with their age-old machineries and conventional techniques of production resulting in poor productivity rate whereas the modern small-scale units are much more productive with less manpower and more sophisticated equipments.
Khadi and handloom, sericulture, handicrafts, village industries, coir, Bell metal are some of the traditional small-scale industries in India. The modern small industries offer a wide range of products starting from simple items like hosiery products, garments,leather products, fishing hook etc to more sophisticated items like television sets,electronics control system, various engineering products especially as ancillaries to large industrial undertakings.
Nowadays Indian small-scale industries (SSIs) are mostly modern small-scale industries. Modernization has widened the list of products offered by this industry. The items manufactured in modern Small-scale service & Business enterprises in India now include rubber products, plastic products, chemical products, glass and ceramics, mechanical engineering items, hardware, electrical items, transport equipment, electronic components and equipments, automobile parts, bicycle parts, instruments, sports goods, stationery items and clocks and watches.