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The cottage industries of handloom and handicrafts have been a part and parcel of the rural economy of Sikkim since ages. Being a mountain state with cold climate the need for woollen clothing and the availability of raw material in the form of yak and sheep wool or others led to a natural instinct for people to be adept at woollen handloom-making or weaving. It was only obvious that the then "Directorate of Industries" was tasked with promoting and conserving this traditional art as its main mandate. Due to the humid and temperate agro-climatic factors being favourable for growing a variety of crops the government set up a fruit preservation and the Temi Tea Estate factories which were the first MSEs to be set up in the State.

The advent of large industry in the form of brewery and distillery and some precision industries came about in the 1970s and 80s. The real growth of large industry was however attributed to the last 15-20 years when a spate of investors decided to take advantage of the peaceful and friendly atmosphere for industrial development that prevailed in the State. Hence the State saw rapid large industrialization mainly of pharma and related industries, cosmetics, distilleries, steel and several others, as also the rapid expansion of tourism related service-oriented industry. These developments have resulted in Sikkim becoming an industrialized state as opposed to a purely agrarian one and the Directorate of Industries being upgraded to a full fledged department. As on date, the industrial sector contributes to almost 45% of the GSDP of the State and there are more than 115 large industries and close to 1000 MSMEs in the State. The Chief Minister's Startup Scheme has provided an impetus to self employment of educated unemployed youth. The Commerce & Industries Department is also responsible for overseeing the Indo-China Nathula border trade and other matters related to exports of items like tea and other organic products.

An Introduction

In Sikkim, industry plays a vital role in the economy of the State. Sikkim has seen a great boom in the industries in the recent years. Sikkim has now emerged as an Industrial Hub.

Sikkim had long been an agro-based society, but situations changed thoroughly in the recent years. With the acceleration in the socio-political aspect of the society of Sikkim, the growth of industry in Sikkim has been tremendous.

Some of the industries of Sikkim that deserve a special mention in this context are:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Eco-tourism(Hotels)
  • Food Processing
  • Breweries
  • Cosmetics
  • Security Ink
  • Mattress
  • Corrugated Boxes

It is noteworthy that the growth in the industries of Sikkim is a resultant effect of the continuous endeavour of the government of Sikkim. The Department of Industries in Sikkim is instrumental in bringing about a rapid growth in the industries of Sikkim. Due to the growth of population, the problems of unemployment is surging upwards, therefore, the Department of Industries has formulated certain policies in order to bring about a stability in the situation.

An estimate of the achievements of the government in exulting the status of the Sikkim Industry are:

  • Revival of the Food Preservation Factory under the Government of Sikkim
  • Formation of:
    • Sikkim Temi Tea
    • Consultancy Services
    • Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme
    • Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom
    • SIDICO
    • New District Handicrafts and Handloom Centers, etc.
  • Other Programs, viz.:
    • Border Area Development Project
    • Industrial Growth Center
    • Training of Rural Artisans
    • Entrepreneurship Development Program

Besides, the government of Sikkim has also issued a number of licenses so that the industries of Sikkim can take another stride in its march towards globalization.

For the above purpose the Sikkim Government had established the Directorate of Industries was set up in the year 1977 with the main focus of promoting and developing industries in the state of Sikkim. The Directorate helped in establishing industries and accomplished many goals after its inception like imparting training to the local youth in various handloom and handicrafts techniques and setting up training centers at various places of the state so that the artisans of the age old methods of making ethnic products like thanka paintings, wood carving, etc. could be self sufficient and self reliant.

The Directorate also provided financial assistance to the budding entrepreneurs of the state with a view of creating greater job opportunities to the local youth who had been solely dependent on government sector and agriculture for employment till then.

In the year 2003, this Directorate was converted and renamed Department of Commerce & Industries vide Notification No. 53/home/2003 dated 13.08.2003.

The basic objective of converting the Directorate to Department of Commerce & Industries was to bring about rapid industrialization in the state so as to lure national and international companies to the small state of Sikkim by way of providing various incentives and subsidies so that they could invest and play an active role in the economic development of the state. This would in turn help to overcome the growing problem of unemployment and also to compete with the other states of the Indian Union towards economic prosperity. All types of industrial activities come under its preview.

The Department is headed by the Commissioner-cum-Secretary. The Department has its Head Office at Gangtok(East Sikkim) with two District Industries Centers, one in Gangtok itself covering the north and the east districts and the other at Jorethang (South District) covering the entire south and the west districts.