The small-scale industries sector plays a vital role in the growth of the country. It contributes almost 40% of the gross industrial value added in the Indian economy.

It has been estimated that a million Rs. of investment in fixed assets in the small scale sector produces 4.62 million worth of goods or services with an approximate value addition of ten percentage points.

The small-scale sector has grown rapidly over the years. The growth rates during the various plan periods have been very impressive. The number of small-scale units has increased from an estimated 0.87 million units in the year 1980-81 to over 3 million in the year 2000.

When the performance of this sector is viewed against the growth in the manufacturing and the industry sector as a whole, it instills confidence in the resilience of the small-scale sector.

Year Target Achievement
1991-92 3.0 3.1
1992-93 5.0 5.6
1993-94 7.0 7.1
1994-95 9.1 10.1
1995-96 9.1 11.4
1996-97 9.1 11.3
1997-98 * 8.43
1998-99 * 7.7
1999-00 * 8.16
2000-01(P) * 8.90

P-Projected (April-December)
* Target not fixed at constant prices


SSI Sector in India creates largest employment opportunities for the Indian populace, next only to Agriculture. It has been estimated that 100,000 rupees of investment in fixed assets in the small-scale sector generates employment for four persons.

Generation of Employment - Industry Group-wise

Food products industry has ranked first in generating employment, providing employment to 0.48 million persons (13.1%). The next two industry groups were Non-metallic mineral products with employment of 0.45 million persons (12.2%) and Metal products with 0.37 million persons (10.2%).

In Chemicals & chemical products, Machinery parts except Electrical parts, Wood products, Basic Metal Industries, Paper products & printing, Hosiery & garments, Repair services and Rubber & plastic products, the contribution ranged from 9% to 5%, the total contribution by these eight industry groups being 49%.

In all other industries the contribution was less than 5%.

Per unit employment

Per unit employment was the highest (20) in units engaged in beverages, tobacco & tobacco products mainly due to the high employment potential of this industry particularly in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam and Tamil Nadu.

Next came Cotton textile products (17), Non-metallic mineral products (14.1), Basic metal industries (13.6) and Electrical machinery and parts (11.2.) The lowest figure of 2.4 was in Repair services line.

Per unit employment was the highest (10) in metropolitan areas and lowest (5) in rural areas.

However, in Chemicals & chemical products, Non-metallic mineral products and Basic metal industries per unit employment was higher in rural areas as compared to metropolitan areas/urban areas.

In urban areas highest employment per unit was in Beverages, tobacco products (31 persons) followed by Cotton textile products (18), Basic metal industries (13) and Non-metallic mineral products (12).

Location-wise Employment Distribution - Rural

Non-metallic products contributed 22.7% to employment generated in rural areas. Food Products accounted for 21.1%, Wood Products and Chemicals and chemical products shared between them 17.5%.


As for urban areas, Food Products and Metal Products almost equally shared 22.8% of employment. Machinery parts except electrical, Non-metallic mineral products, and Chemicals & chemical products between them accounted for 26.2% of employment.

In metropolitan areas the leading industries were Metal products, Machinery and parts except electrical and Paper products & printing (total share being 33.6%).

State-wise Employment Distribution

Tamil Nadu (14.5%) made the maximum contribution to employment.

This was followed by Maharashtra (9.7%), Uttar Pradesh (9.5%) and West Bengal (8.5%) the total share being 27.7%.

Gujarat (7.6%), Andhra Pradesh (7.5%), Karnataka (6.7%) and Punjab (5.6%) together accounted for another 27.4%.

Per unit employment was high - 17, 16 and 14 respectively - in Nagaland, Sikkim and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

It was 12 in Maharashtra, Tripura and Delhi.

Madhya Pradesh had the lowest figure of 2. In all other cases it was around the average of 6.

Year Target
(lakh nos.)
(lakh nos.)
Growth rate
1992-93 128.0 134.06 3.28
1993-94 133.0 139.38 3.28
1994-95 138.6 146.56 5.15
1995-96 144.4 152.61 4.13
1996-97 150.5 160.00 4.88
1997-98 165 167.20 4.50
1998-99 170.1 171.58 2.61
1999-00 175.4 177.3 3.33


SSI Sector plays a major role in India's present export performance. 45%-50% of the Indian Exports is contributed by SSI Sector. Direct exports from the SSI Sector account for nearly 35% of total exports. Besides direct exports, it is estimated that small-scale industrial units contribute around 15% to exports indirectly. This takes place through merchant exporters, trading houses and export houses. They may also be in the form of export orders from large units or the production of parts and components for use for finished exportable goods.

It would surprise many to know that non-traditional products account for more than 95% of the SSI exports.

The exports from SSI sector have been clocking excellent growth rates in this decade. It has been mostly fuelled by the performance of garments, leather and gems and jewellery units from this sector.

The product groups where the SSI sector dominates in exports, are sports goods, readymade garments, woollen garments and knitwear, plastic products, processed food and leather products.

The SSI sector is reorienting its export strategy towards the new trade regime being ushered in by the WTO.

Year Exports (Rs. Crores) (at current prices)
1994-95 29,068
1995-96 36,470
1996-97 39,249
1997-98 43946
1998-99 48979
1999-00 (P) 53975


The opportunities in the small-scale sector are enormous due to the following factors:

  • Less Capital Intensive
  • Extensive Promotion & Support by Government
  • Reservation for Exclusive Manufacture by small scale sector
  • Project Profiles
  • Funding - Finance & Subsidies
  • Machinery Procurement
  • Raw Material Procurement
  • Manpower Training
  • Technical & Managerial skills
  • Tooling & Testing support
  • Reservation for Exclusive Purchase by Government
  • Export Promotion
  • Growth in demand in the domestic market size due to overall economic growth
  • Increasing Export Potential for Indian products
  • Growth in Requirements for ancillary units due to the increase in number of greenfield units coming up in the large scale sector. Small industry sector has performed exceedingly well and enabled our country to achieve a wide measure of industrial growth and diversification.

By its less capital intensive and high labour absorption nature, SSI sector has made significant contributions to employment generation and also to rural industrialisation. This sector is ideally suited to build on the strengths of our traditional skills and knowledge, by infusion of technologies, capital and innovative marketing practices. This is the opportune time to set up projects in the small-scale sector. It may be said that the outlook is positive, indeed promising, given some safeguards. This expectation is based on an essential feature of the Indian industry and the demand structures. The diversity in production systems and demand structures will ensure long term co-existence of many layers of demand for consumer products / technologies / processes. There will be flourishing and well grounded markets for the same product/process, differentiated by quality, value added and sophistication. This characteristic of the Indian economy will allow complementary existence for various diverse types of units. The promotional and protective policies of the Govt. have ensured the presence of this sector in an astonishing range of products, particularly in consumer goods. However, the bugbear of the sector has been the inadequacies in capital, technology and marketing. The process of liberalisation coupled with Government support will therefore, attract the infusion of just these things in the sector.

Small industry sector has performed exceedingly well and enabled our country to achieve a wide measure of industrial growth and diversification.