The iconic Industrial Exhibition in Hyderabad connects entrepreneurship with education in a unique way

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The All India Industrial Exhibition (AIIE) or Numaish 2017 is not just an annual expo; it is imbibed in the cultural ethos of Hyderabad. Now into 77th year, it was started in 1938 to promote industrial development in the erstwhile state of Hyderabad  by promoting products manufactured by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in and around the state. In this Skill Story, Aditya Margam, Joint Secretary, Exhibition Society*, traces the journey of this event and tells us how it positively impacts the lives of thousands of students through 18 colleges run by the society.

*This interview with Mr Aditya Margam was conducted in 2016 and facts and figures co-relate with that year.

The exhibitors, the visitors and the beneficiaries

Look at the numbers – 2500 stalls, ticket sales of about 90,000 on a typical Sunday and attracting 2 million to 2.5 millions visitors every year, and an estimated business transaction of Rs.1.5 billion – the All India Industrial Exhibition (AIIE) has remained the only event of its kind, perhaps in the world, to be organized for a duration of 46 days at a stretch! It may also be rare to find another event of this scale where the alumni of a university have founded it and sustained it through hundreds of volunteers to support 18 educational institutions with the returns from the exhibition.

all-india-industrial-exhibition-hyderabad-2017We bring in small changes to reflect the modern day requirements by sensing the general public mood and trends; the exhibition is constantly evolving. This year, the visitors could avail free WiFi for first 45 minutes. We branded it around the theme `Economic Empowerment, Entrepreneurship and Education, Recreation and Relaxation’ to emphasise the need for skill development and vocational education.

The primary goal of Numaish has remained the same

We encourage skilled entrepreneurs to showcase their product and launch new products or services. Historically, this has been a launch pad for a lot of Hyderabad based companies that are into various sectors like manufacturing, agri-business, textiles etc. It’s also been a place for test-marketing their products – right from popular brands like Zinda Tilismath to Bambino and several others. As a part of nurturing entrepreneurship, this time we have a booth, Indianstartups.com, a contact center for budding entrepreneurs.

This is also a place for educating people through workshops and contests. For instance, this time our cookery workshop was sponsored by Bambino and Naturelle. It also made people aware about how to cook food in a healthy way. And, Bambino took this opportunity to demonstrate cooking with their innovative product, the wheat based slim rice which is suitable for diabetics.

Glimpses into the history of AIIE and pan-India participation

Several entrepreneurs and artisans who come from all over India to display their wares, successfully dispose off their year’s produce in these six weeks and they make enough money to support them for most of the year. Several MSMEs get their first opportunity here – we have 120 stalls from Jammu and Kashmir, there are stalls from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat going all the way down to Kerala. These people actually wait and prepare for the Hyderabad Industrial Exhibition.

Hyderabad-Exhibition-Numaish-Stall

Numaish started with small industries and businesses in the erstwhile state of Hyderabad, covering districts like Aurangabad, Sholapur, Nanded, Raichur, Gulbarga, Bidar. Later, it expanded to cover the whole of India and in 1949, it was christened as All India Industrial Exhibition (AIIE), inaugurated by C.Rajagopalachari, Governor General of Independent India.  People from various places would sell handicrafts and small items like caps, buttons, glassware, dhurries, bedsheets and so on. In the due course the event also showcased developments in public sector. This was when BHEL used to put up working models of small turbines, to show the people how they are generating hydro-electric power…so from just a small exhibition, a Numaish, it grew into an industrial exhibition.

Empowering women through vocational education and entrepreneurship

In 1957-58, we decided that we will devote all our earnings for women’s empowerment. This was the time when women’s education was not a priority and did not get importance. Very few women would go ahead to study humanities and sciences, leave alone technical or vocational education. Job oriented training was never on their horizon at that point of time.

That’s when, in 1961, we started Kamala Nehru Girl’s Polytechnic College. This is the first women’s polytechnic college in India. It was our conscious decision to impart vocational training to women,  to enable them to create and manufacture things and earn, if required. We started with classes on stitching, cookery, knitting and other semi-skilled work, like assembling of industrial components.  Later, when the employment opportunities started growing in Hyderabad with several industries and R&D establishment coming up, graduates from our colleges got absorbed in the industry.

Reading the pulse of the people

The exhibition is a participatory exercise, and the participants are the stall holders (exhibitors), and the visitors. If something is not accepted by the people, it doesn’t come back next year. So, it’s been an evolution. Earlier, we used display models of various dams, irrigation projects, people used to throng those pavilions to see exactly how these things work. Then, over a period of time, the curiosity was fading away. The interest has gone down over the last two decades. People stopped visiting those stalls, they were most interested in shopping, relaxation, recreation and so on. So we also have to respond to what the market demands.

Challenges and the road ahead

Our challenge has been to provide basic amenities to 5000 people who come from different parts of India,  who live on the campus throughout the 46 days. Since most of our infrastructure is temporary and make-shift, the toilets and showers, that run into 40 -50 units in each block, get vandalized by the end of the event, we have to reconstruct them again the next year.

Our plan is to extend the facility for short duration fairs like a jewelry exhibition for a week or a flower show or an interior decoration show or a furniture festival. But right now we don’t have that kind of facility. It takes us two months to set up this entire paraphernalia. For a one-week fair, we wont be able to prepare since we don’t have permanent infrastructure. So we are planning to have some semi-permanent stuff. Other amenities like toilets, cafeteria…we need to have them properly done, like how you have them in trade fair centers. If we have to run something year –round, we have to have infrastructure that helps in climate control with other basic comforts for the exhibitors as well as the visitors.

*This interview with Mr Aditya Margam was conducted in 2016 and facts and figures co-relate with that year.

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