The Indian Exhibition Industry Association organised an E-Interaction with Sh. Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister of MSME and Road Transport & Highways, Govt. of India on May 15, 2020. The interaction that lasted for about 45 minutes was made live for viewing on Facebook.
The interaction was moderated by Mr. Bhupinder Singh, Honorary Secretary, IEIA. The moderator started by thanking the MSME for changing its definition and being receptive to the exhibition industry concerns. IEIA has submitted a presentation to the ministry for review which contains the scale & impact of Indian exhibition industry and how the industry is geared up for gradually reopening again under due safety guidelines.
Mr. Singh highlighted that Exhibitions are important for MSMEs and the industry should be classified separately from mass gatherings as they are pretty much organised meetings in a controlled environment. As a significant development Mr. Gadkari replied that if the industry can come up with the Art of Living / Art of Exhibitions With Coronavirus by maintaining strict guidelines (distance protocols between visitors, mandatory masks, sanitization etc.) then the Home Ministry can look into allowing physical exhibitions to re-start. The Minister has requested due follow-up with his team in this regard.
IEIA has developed various SOPs/Safety Guidelines for exhibitions tp re-start in a controlled environment.
IEIA President Mr. Balasubramanian also appealed about the significance of exhibitions for our economic growth and mentioned that exhibitions should be classified as an ‘Industry’. He mentioned that the general exhibition fraternity is confused regarding its status and whether it comes under purview of the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Commerce or MSME. The Minister gave a assuring reply to this by stating that the exhibitions can very well come under Ministry of MSME – Services Cluster and he will even consider creating a separate category for Exhibitions Sector in MSME!
The Minister also highlighted on collaborative approach in our sector but refused to comment much on encouraging the virtual exhibitions/E-Marketplace part for the time being. He stressed that with China’s reputation in turmoil currently, Indian MSMEs have a great opportunity to focus on exports.
The Minister was quite aware and appreciative about the industry but much more needs to be done at the policy makers level if India wants to see a Germany/Korea like announcement where exhibitions have been classified separately from mass gatherings. It will be important to reach out to the policy makers constantly to make them aware about this understanding. This was indeed a very significant initiative for the Indian exhibition industry!