Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made a strong push for India's jewellery sector, saying local Indian jewellers could influence global taste and fashion while addressing the audience at a charity dinner at the International Diamond Conference in Mumbai.
"Can't our jewellers, with their skills, strengths and heritage, create and change global tastes and fashions?" the Prime Minister said in a speech he made through video conference.
The prime minister was referring to the use of diamonds in different consumer products such as watches, pens and glasses.
Prime Minister Modi said that the gems and jewellery sector had made a lot of progress in India in recent times and contributed heavily to India's exports as it made 15 per cent of India's total merchandise exports.
"India is now the world's largest manufacturer of cut and polished diamonds, and gems and jewellery sector is one of the leading sectors in India in terms of value of exports as well as employment generation," he said.
"This is one of India's success stories. From just 28 million dollars in 1966-67, exports reached one billion dollars in 1982-83 and two billion dollars in 1987-88. It crossed 10 billion dollars in 2003-04, 20 billion dollars in 2007-08 and is now nearly 40 billion dollars," Modi said
The Prime Minister further said that he wanted to see India as a global diamond trading hub, and not just cutting and polishing hub.
"Many of the most reputed international names in the diamond industry have conducted over 244 days of viewings. My intention is to make India, which is already the cutting and polishing hub, into an international diamond trading hub," he said.
Modi added that the diamond trading hub would fit with his Make in India campaign that aims to transform India into a manufacturing powerhouse.
"Our goal is to transform India in one generation. Since taking office, this government has placed emphasis on many transformative initiatives. 'Make in India' is one of them. Our aim is to make India a preferred destination for manufacturing," PM Modi said.
He also referred to the huge employment potential in the jewellery sector in India.
"The gems and jewellery sector employs 4.6 million people. Out of this, one million people are in the diamond industry alone. Thus, the gems and jewellery sector is a prime example of the potential of 'Make In India' and 'Skill India'," he said.