Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s star-performer minister Piyush Goyal has been entrusted with the charge of Textile Ministry, along with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution. Previously, he had been heading the Railway Ministry where he oversaw some of the most radical changes ever done to the ministry in independent India. However, the move that some might consider Piyush Goyal’s demotion in the cabinet is actually an acknowledgment of the vast potential that the Textile ministry offers to the country’s economy.
When Piyush Goyal took charge of coal, power, and renewable energy in Modi Cabinet 1.0, the new minister of state knew what he was signing up for. The very volatile ministry was infamous for not getting anything done. In the UPA era, it was divided between three cabinet ministers. The ministry was a complete mess with an alleged 1.8 lakh crore scam, stranded thermal power plants, fuel shortages, and mounting debt of state utilities.
When NDA came to power, the situation of 100 power plants monitored was so bad that as many as 38 were left with only a week’s worth of coal to burn, while 20 had as little as four or fewer days of coal stocks. That’s what Piyush Goyal inherited.
When Goyal handed over the keys of the ministry to his successor RK Singh, the process of electrifying every village had been completed. Under his leadership, coal allocation through the e-auction method was working seamlessly and power generation had grown to record highs.
Goyal was then given the charge of the Rail Ministry. The much sought-after ministry used to be the exclusive privilege of the biggest alliance partners of both the UPA and the NDA. Party supremos like Nitish, Paswan, Lalu, and Mamata have all been Railway Ministers. Under his predecessor Suresh Prabhu, Railway had gotten rid of this malaise and a lot of groundwork was already laid.
However, train accidents were alarmingly high, and Indian Railways was suffering from huge PR and credibility problems. This was when PM Modi turned to Piyush Goyal. Today Trains are more punctual than ever. Unmanned crossings are history. From accidents amounting to as high as 1130 in 1980-81, the number of train accidents fell to 59 in 2018-19, a reduction of more than 94.8 percent. Cleanliness in trains is now a stuff of legends. Train toilets that remained nothing more than a hole in the floor for 67 years transformed into well-equipped lavatories under his leadership.
And now Goyal has got the charge of Textile Ministry. India has been very well known for its textile products since ancient times. The traditional textile industry of India was destroyed by the British to fuel the English mills. The modern textile industry breathed its first only in the nineteenth century, but India could never become the Textile Powerhouse that it used to be. India is the leading cotton-producing country in the world. India was the largest producer of jute products till 2019. Bangladesh beat India the next year. Today Bangladesh is a textile powerhouse and India isn’t. The textile industry remains one of the largest industries and one of the biggest employment providers in India, but its full potential has never been realised. And now PM Modi has turned to his ‘rainmaker’ Piyush Goyal again.
Piyush Goyal is an extremely disciplined man with terrific organisational skills. He is the one to get the job done and his CEO-like working style closely resembles PM Modi’s own working style. Expect the Textile industry of India to make rave headlines in the next six months. Thus, what is being seen as a demotion for Piyush Goyal is in fact PM Modi turning to his best minister to nurse an ailing industry back to health. And if Goyal’s records are to be taken into consideration, it is an exceptionally well-made call on the Prime Minister’s part.