“Restore the spinning wheel to its place and you will solve the problem of poverty” – Gandhi
The Mysore Silk Saree industry has been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 global pandemic, restrictions, and lockdowns. Few people these days are purchasing 20-30 sarees at a time!
Because of the pandemic, wedding-culture has quickly and drastically changed. Many couples now take to Zoom to solemnize their vows. Others opt for more low-key ceremonies with only close relatives.
Saree shops used to average Rs 2 lakh per day in revenue before the pandemic. Now they are seeing 60-70% in losses. Tepid demand, changing consumer behaviour, a breakdown in the supply-chain, and fluctuations in the price of mulberry silk and Zari gold-thread are all to blame.
Some big-questions for management students:
How can this local Mysore industry be supported and encouraged in the future? How can we continue providing employment for tens-of-thousands of people? How can we preserve a key part of our city’s cultural heritage? How can we use modern technology to revive age-old industries?
Some quick-answers from MYRA:
“National and state governments need to carefully manage the import of Chinese silk. When the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement was signed, imports from China were freely allowed. Chinese silk is now much cheaper because it is subsidized by their government! Trade restrictions on Chinese silk is one way to approach the problem. It may revive India’s silk production sector and allow Indian products to be independent of Chinese raw materials. However, this may cause the price of Indian silk to rise and make sarees more expensive in the short term – so a more careful data-analysis may need to be done.“
“Young entrepreneurs can explore the export market. With travel to India becoming more difficult and unpredictable – there will be strong demand for local products in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia – and anywhere with a large Indian diaspora. A store called Nalli Silks has successfully opened its first UK store, where there are more than enough people willing to pay for high-quality wedding sarees that can range from Rs 25,000 to Rs 4 lakh.”
“Management students can do some thorough research on local Mysore industries. In small teams, they can study each stage of the Silkworm-to-Saree process by conducting field-visits and interviews. Then they can analyse their data using tools and frameworks that they learn in the classroom. They can also apply modern marketing strategies.