ODOP is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to recognise that ‘each district of our country has a potential equal to that of one country’ and there is ‘need to understand this power and channelize this potential’.

New Delhi: From gifts made under “One District One Product” scheme for delegates from G20 countries visiting India, well curated exhibitions of good quality ODOP products to tapping the demand for Assam tea from Mexico and neem from Brazil, sending ODOP footballs made in Jalandhar clusters and customised for the Argentina market for distribution before the FIFA World Cup to exhibiting ODOP products in Davos 2023, India’s mammoth endeavour towards identifying products with export potential that a district specialises in and showcasing it to the world, is going places.

Taking off from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to recognise that “each district of our country has a potential equal to that of one country” and there is “need to understand this power and channelize this potential”, the ODOP is an earnest effort to highlight the tremendous potential that the rich culture and tradition that India has to offer, as defined by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. Though India’s districts and villages are home to crores of talented weavers, artisans and craftsmen, for many decades, the fruits of development have remained asymmetric and confined to some regions. “The ODOP initiative,” according to Goyal, marks a fundamental shift in the thinking of the Government in the last eight years and realisation that India cannot develop unless remotest corners of the nation are also equal stake holders in development and benefits equally from fruits of progress.
The calibration of ODOP is opportunely timed with India taking over the G20 presidency, pipping Britain to emerge as the fifth largest economy in the world, taking over from Japan as the third largest automobile market in the world and a series of internal reforms to sustain the country’s position as the fastest growing emerging economy. With one of the most robust FDI policies, movement towards Phase 2 of the National Single Window System, which is focused on new investments and for existing businesses, an investor friendly environment is working hard to support ODOP’s exposure and global appeal.
“The ODOP-District as Export Hub initiative is a revolutionary step in enabling the vision of the Prime Minister to realize the goal of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat,” says Deepak Bagla, Managing Director and CEO of Invest India, the national investment promotion and facilitation agency which is also implementing ODOP. “Imbued in culture, the ODOP-DEH products tell the story of the farmer, weaver, craftsman and the painter. Traditional in their design but modern in their vision, the ODOP-DEH products encapsulate India’s dynamic growth story. The ODOP-DEH initiative aims to promote, brand and optimize these products to take them from local to global and to ensure that each product reaches its full potential while retaining its uniqueness,” Bagla told The Sunday Guardian.
Results are visible, agrees Preet Deep Singh, Head ODOP and Chief Analytics Officer of Invest India. “A lot of foreign embassies have started promoting ODOP goods and turning brand ambassadors for Indian products with a big chunk of ODOP merchandise now going out through the embassies. We are working with 30 embassies right now. This removes friction from trade and allows access and knowledge about Indian products,” points out Singh. With expression of interest from many geographies, Invest India is also exploring untapped potential in many new and traditional markets for ODOP products, adds Singh. “We are witnessing demand for silk in Tunisia and handicrafts from Europe with Austria, Hungary Slovenia and Slovakia showing interest. Europeans love Indian craftsmanship,” says Singh.
There is thus more official ambition to the pure design of bringing prosperity to those at the bottom of the pyramid in India’s districts. The ODOP scheme being implemented in all states/UTs of the country is a transformational initiative towards tapping each district for the specialty it carries as well as the potential to scale and converting the district into a manufacturing and export hub. The four-pronged initiative to promote one product from each district of the country is a meticulously detailed process involving diversification, packaging, branding, technology upskilling, quality standardisation followed by domestic and international marketing, e2e e-commerce onboarding, certifications (organic/as per export standards) and scheme awareness with support funding facilitation. These efforts are designed and pursued towards helping districts reach their full potential, providing an ecosystem for innovation and use of technology towards the ultimate goal of fostering balanced regional development across all districts of the country and holistic socio-economic growth across all regions of the country.
As part of this ambitious design, the ODOP initiative is merged with “Districts as Export Hub” (DEH) initiative of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Department of Commerce, with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) as a major stakeholder. Under DEH a state export promotion committee and district export promotion committee has been constituted in all the 36 states/UTs. Products/services with export potential have been identified in 734 districts across the country including agricultural and toy clusters and GI products in these districts, a state export strategy has been prepared in 28 states/UTs, Draft District Action Plan has been prepared for 570 districts and a web portal to monitor the progress of District Export Action Plan in all the districts has been developed by DGFT.
A further calibration of the ODOP programme is on the cards with its integration with the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), which, according to the Commerce Minister, will help in further expanding the frontiers of ODOP by bringing buyers and sellers together on a common platform to serve the national goal of making the remotest corners of the nation equal stakeholders in the development process. The ONDC is aimed at enabling small merchants and stores to access processes and technologies that are deployed by large e-commerce platforms.
Besides, with the launch of an ODOP-Government e-Marketplace Bazaar on GeM platform in August 2022, over 200 product categories have been created on the platform to enable direct procurement of ODOP products for gifting/office use by various line ministries, government bodies, and foreign missions abroad to further mobilise an international audience for India’s rich and diverse products. Efforts are also on to further accelerate delivery timelines on GeM across all transaction types including direct purchase, bids, reverse auctions and provide more flexibility to government buyers to choose products as per their delivery needs. Significant technical upgrades have been planned by GeM to enable cutting edge use cases and improve user experience on the platform.
The Government is already planning the next level of ODOP escalation with five action agendas which can make ODOP a game changer, according to Goyal. India is looking to promote exports of different products—identified under ODOP initiative—through duty-free access in the various free trade agreements (FTAs) being signed and negotiated by India. These products which include gold jewellery, toys, handicrafts and handlooms, hold huge opportunities. Also on the card is an exhaustive ODOP catalogue with a high quality database of suppliers offering a one-stop gifting destination for ministries, missions, state governments and industry and improved access and selection. As part of the strategy to amplify ODOP, the Minister has sought branding of ODOP products, most of which are natural and eco-friendly, as sustainable as well as expansion of the list of GI tagged products by simplifying, streamlining and fast tracking the GI tagging process and expansion of availability of genuine ODOP products to counter fakes in the market.
For further value addition, Invest India is also engaging with start-ups ranging from those that are aggregating to those which are in packaging in the ODOP endeavour. “There are about 85,000 registered start-ups and I guess there are over a 1,000 which are involved in this endeavour,” says Singh. For instance, to deal with the issue of authenticity of a textile handicraft product, we are working with a start-up, Kosha, which approaches weavers and inserts an IoT (internet of things) device in the loom. The device keeps sending out information that the loom is moving and also its coordinates. When the textile gets finished, they insert an NFC card into it. So starting from the yarn stage, there is one clear trace. This brings in a lot of trust which is very important in overseas marketing,” says Singh.
There are also some issues that the Government cannot solve like meeting the demand for products that need a design change, points out Singh. Invest India has roped in National Institute of Design and NIFT and workshops are being held across the country to help with these issues. “We are also now working with the Department of Posts to reach out where e-commerce does not serve. India Post can help bridge the gap,” says Singh.