India's sadness4 March 2001
Ihave just returned from the India International Leather Fair in Chennai. Understandably, due to the devastating earthquake in Gujarat, India is a very sad place at the moment. What should have been an occasion for doubly rejoicing, the holding of the fair for the first time in a purpose-built exhibition centre and the inauguration of phase one of the new fairground complex, was pushed off the front pages and received less media attention than might have been expected. Sadly, this did not prevent a spiteful and unjustified little piece in The Hindu about beauty being only skin deep when it reported on the annual fashion show which is held concurrently with the IILF. The main objection seemed to be with overseas visitors who spent too much time trying to spot the beauty queens (there were five of them among the 16 lovely young women displaying the clothing). The disgruntled reporter claimed only to have a bird's eye view because that was all that could be seen by media persons who had to 'withstand confusion, chaos and commotion created by the back-benchers [sic] seated in front of them. The 16th IILF opened in the excellent new exhibition centre on the outskirts of the city and confounded those who never believed it would be completed in time. However, although the two halls provide 7,000 ft² of exhibition space this is still not big enough to accommodate the leather fair so a temporary structure had to be added. While the 'annexe' received some criticism from exhibitors located there, apart from the poor lighting, the structure was infinitely superior to those normally associated with the show. Phase two is dependent on other than the leather industry to avail themselves of the facilities and establish a commercially viable need for more halls to be added. After five years of stagnation the industry is now seeing a healthy growth in exports so business is booming. So it was a bit of a surprise to exhibitors when the show got off to a slow start. The first day and a half did not witness the usual hustle and bustle we have come to expect from the Madras fair. Fortunately, on the afternoon of the second day, the visitors came in droves and hopefully results thereafter were satisfactory.