By Bhavana Akella
New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The 35th edition of India’s largest trade fair has commenced on a high note here, drawing huge crowds to the sprawling Pragati Maidan fairgrounds on the very first day, some of the sellers attributing the overwhelming response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India mantra.
Over 7,000 domestic and foreign firms are participating in the India International Trade Fair (IITF) 2015. Firms from 28 countries are participating.
As a partner country, Afghanistan had its own pavilion at the exposition with around 50 stalls selling handmade jewellery, watches, world renowned Afghani carpets, kaftans, saffron and dry fruit – a hot seller.
As one enters the pavilion, there are stalls adorned with garlands of dry figs and the aroma of saffron in the area. And, aiming at potential women buyers, is the Afghani Lapis Lazuli stoned jewellery.
“Considering it’s the start of the fair, we have had a very good sale and have noticed huge numbers of buyers compared to the previous years. India’s push for Make in India could be doing the trick,” said Shirin Qahraman, a woman entreprenuer from Kabul.
Qahraman’s store has an exclusive collection of Lapis Lazuli neck-pieces, rings and bracelets. The neck-pieces start at Rs.2,000 and go as high as Rs.10,000.
For Sado Zai, 32, a retail carpet seller from Kabul, the fair has been extremely helpful in marketing his products across the world.
“The trade fair has been enabling us showcase our products to people around the world. I now have a few clients in India who import my carpets regularly. Through Make in India project, we are exploring ways to set up a business here,” Zai told IANS as he exhibited his wares.
The Afghani carpets are priced anywhere between Rs.5,000 and Rs.50,000, depending on their size.
As enthusiastic were the sellers about the fair, many expressed concern that the rent they have to pay for their stalls has skyrocketed.
“For a stall of 10×6 feet, manned by two people, the rent is as high as $4,500 for the (two-week) duration of the fair. If this continues, it would be difficult for us to return in future,” Qahraman said.
Also grabbing eyeballs at the fair were Turkish stalls with their bright glass lamps, ceramics and the well-known Turkish tea pots.
The Chinese pavilion is displaying a large number of technology-related products like water purifiers, energy-saving room heaters and food processors, among others.
Indian khadi stalls – with products from across the country – are also a huge hit. Stall owners hoped their earnings would reach the Rs.6-8 lakh mark with the government’s push for the sector.
Rashi Kumar, a bank professional, has been visiting the fair for the past 10 years and said the variety of products displayed by foreign participants is much better this year.
“I have noticed many new countries participating this year, with a wider variety of products,” Kumar said, although the organizers last year announced participation of delegations from 41 countries.
(Bhavana Akella can be contacted at email@example.com)