Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 19 exhorted the Indian diamond industry to aim at becoming an international trading centre and "preferred destination for manufacturing" rather than only a cutting and polishing hub.
"Our aim is to make India a preferred destination for (diamond) manufacturing. We are already a cutting and polishing hub. My intention is to make India an international diamond trading hub," Modi said, addressing golden jubilee celebration of Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council here through video-conference this evening.
India has made rapid strides to become the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of cut and polished diamonds, the PM noted.
"From just $28 million in 1966-67, it has now reached $40 billion. Our aim is to transform India in one generation... Our aim is to make India a preferred destination for manufacturing," he said.
In the past 50 years, the Prime Minister said, the gems and jewellery sector has accounted for $475 billion of exports despite not having domestic production of either gold or diamond. By giving employment to over 4.6 million people, the industry is a major contributor to the government's skill India initiative, Modi said.
"Skill India initiative seeks to make sure that new attempts are made to ensure that the workforce has the necessary skills to contribute to the economy of the 21st century. The gems and jewellery sector employs 4.6 million people, out of this, 1 million 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," Modi said.
"This sector has come a long way from where it was.
However, it is still far, far behind where it should be. Our strongest area is diamond cutting and polishing. In terms of the global value, our market share is much lower than it should be. Our future is much bigger than cutting and polishing. We have a lot of unexplored potential," he said.