In a developing country like India, the role and importance of small-scale industries is very significant towards poverty eradication, employment generation, rural development and creating regional balance in promotion and growth of various development activities. It is estimated that this sector has been contributing about 40% of the gross value of output produced in the manufacturing sector and the generation of employment by the small scale sector is more than five times to that of the large-scale sector. This clearly shows the importance of small-scale industries in the economic development of the country. The small-scale industry has been playing an important role in the growth process of Indian economy since independence in spite of stiff1 competition from the large sector and not very encouraging support from the government. The following are some of the important role played by small scale industries in India.
1. Employment Generation: The basic problem that is confronting the Indian economy is increasing pressure of population on the land and the need to create massive employment opportunities. This problem is solved to larger extent by small- scale industries because small scale industries are labour intensive in character. They generate huge number of employment opportunities. Employment generation by this sector has shown a phenomenal growth. It is a powerful tool of job creation.
2. Mobilisation of resources and entrepreneurial skill: Small-scale industries can mobilize a good amount of savings and entrepreneurial skill from rural and semi- urban areas remain untouched from the clutches of large industries and put them into productive use by investing in small-scale units. Small entrepreneurs also improve social welfare of a country by harnessing dormant, previously overlooked talent. Thus, a huge amount of latent resources are being mobilised by the small-scale sector for the development of the economy.
3. Equitable distribution of income: Small entrepreneurs stimulate a redistribution of wealth, income and political power within societies in ways that are economically positive and without being politically disruptive. Thus small-scale industries ensures equitable distribution of income and wealth in the Indian society which is largely characterised by more concentration of income and wealth in the organised section keeping unorganised sector undeveloped. This is mainly due to the fact that small industries are widespread as compared to large industries and are having large employment potential.
4. Regional dispersal of industries: There has been massive concentration of industries in a few large cities of different states of Indian union. People migrate from rural and semi urban areas to these highly developed centres in search of employment and sometimes to earn a better living which ultimately leads to many evil consequences of overcrowding, pollution, creation of slums, etc. This problem of Indian economy is better solved by small scale industries which utilize local resources and brings about dispersion of industries in the various parts of the country thus promotes balanced regional development.
5. Provides opportunities for development of technology: Small scale industries have tremendous capacity to generate or absorb innovations. They provide ample opportunities for the development of technology and technology in return, creates an environment conducive to the development of small units. The entrepreneurs of small units play a strategic role in commercializing new inventions and products. It also facilitates the transfer of technology from one to the other. As a result, the economy reaps the benefit of improved technology.
6. Indigenization: Small scale industries make better use of indigenous organizational and management capabilities by drawing on a pool of entrepreneurial talent that is limited in the early stages of economic development. They provide productive outlets for the enterprising independent people. They also provide a seed bed for entrepreneurial talent and a testing round for new ventures.
7. Promotes exports: Small scale industries have registered a phenomenal growth in export over the years. The value of exports of products of small-scale industries has increased to Rs 393 erores in 1973-74 to Rs 71, 244 crores in 2002-03. This contributes about 35% India’s total export. Thus they help in increasing the country’s foreign exchange reserves thereby reducing the pressure on country’s balance of payment.
8. Supports the growth of large industries: The small scale industries play an important role in assisting bigger industries and projects so that the planned activity of development work is timely attended. They support the growth of large industries by providing components, accessories and semi finished goods required by them. In fact, small industries can breathe vitality into the life of large industries.
9. Better industrial relations: Better industrial relations between the employer and employees helps in increasing the efficiency of employees and reducing the frequency of industrial disputes. The loss of production and man days are comparatively less in smallscale industries. There is hardly any strikes and lock out in these industries due to good employee-employer relationship.