“ Trade Fair Was For The Aam Aadmi ”—Rita Menon Chairperson-cum-Managing Director, ITPO
Thirty-second International Trade Fair was a great success with more than 15 lakh people from every nook and cranny of the country and from other parts of the world visiting this mega show of trade where thousands of companies—Indian and foreign—displayed their products and services. Ms Rita Menon, former Textiles Secretary, and the Chairperson-cum-Managing Director of the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), handled the entire show single handedly and with élan. In an interview to Uday India, she talked about various issues concerning the India International Trade Fair. Excerpts:
What was so special about the fair this time?
The fair provided a unique forum for business-to-business meetings between business and trade delegations from both India and abroad. This year, the Republic of Belarus was accorded the status of the ‘Partner Country’ while, South Africa was the ‘Focus Country’. This year, Uttarakhand participated as partner state and Andaman and Nicobar was given focus state status.
Could you please elaborate on the product profile of IITF 2012?
The product profile of IITF 2012 included cosmetics, healthcare products, service sector, consultancy services, consumer electronics, home and kitchen appliances, fitness equipment, optical and eye care products, textiles, jute and coir, leather goods, footwear, rural art and craft products, products from Khadi and various products from foreign countries.
How did you make this mega show a big hit?
The fair was for everyone, particularly for the aam aadmi. We facilitated their visit. Besides, we introduced a lot of things keeping the past in mind. This time we moved our protocol service to the gate number 1 so as to ease the trouble of traffic snarls on Bhagwan Das Road. This helped the Delhi Police’s traffic wing monitor the flow with ease and this dissipated the long jams.
How did the fair promote the theme of IITF “Skilling India”?
I can say that the theme was most pertinent, contemporary and was an extremely important objective of our policy today. The objective of skill development emphasised creating a workforce empowered with the necessary and continuously upgraded skills, knowledge and internationally-recognised qualifications to gain access to employment and ensure India’s competitiveness in the competitive global market. It aims at increasing the productivity and employment both in the organised and the unorganised sectors. It seeks increased participation of youth, women, disabled and other disadvantaged sections. Attuning the present system with the enhanced capability to adapt to changing technologies and labour market demands is yet another important aspect.
The theme figures prominently in the display scheme of the pavilions of states and UTs as also in stand-alone pavilions. This will focus on works undertaken by the NSDC. On the socio-economic front too, the participation of Techmart, Saras, Jute Manufactures Development Council, Coir Board, Khadi and Village Industries was great. The IITF has elicited participation of over 6,000 exhibitors. A notable feature of the fair is the participation by all the states and union territories of India. Around two million visitors including buyers visited from India and abroad.
Was the volume of the fair bigger than that of the last year?
Absolutely, this year there was a lot improvisation as compared to that of last year. This year, the fair rose by 25 per cent that added on three temporary halls. The fair featured 435 foreign companies—the largest ever number in the history of the fair here. The first five days from 14 to 18 of the fair were kept exclusively for business visitors and serious buyers.
Was there any incident like shoplifting, groping and pick pocketing reported during the run of the show?
No, except that there was one case of shop lifting as you say. Hawk-eyed police personnel in plain clothes kept a close watch on every move they made. The show met its grand finale with a roaring success.
The capacity, the authority ITPO permits is 1 lakh visitors, but the figure of footfall shoots beyond the given number. How does it accommodate and how do you check the volume that swells every year?
We generally do not allow the sale of tickets more than the capacity of the maidaan, but then visitors keep coming and going after spending time at the fair. They all do not stay late in the evening. If at all there is an upsurge in the volume we freeze the entry points till the clogged traffic thins.
Are you equipped to handle the situation like stampede?
This has never happened and I think that it won’t ever happen either. If the worst strikes, yes we are equipped for anything of the kind.
By Syed Wajid Ali