Once-Upon-A-Time fashion designer – Ritu Beri has bagged probably one of the biggest government project offered to any single designer till date. Indian Railways’ employees will wear a new look, thanks to Ritu Beri. The fashion designer took up the offer after meeting rail minister Suresh Prabhu recently in Delhi. Prabhu had announced the sartorial overhaul in his budget speech this year and wants his employees, 1.3 million of them, in new clothes, by December. Beri has promised to do it for free. But the strategically stated word – ‘free’ that projects Ms. Beri’s large heartedness extend only to designing charges. Making uniforms and outfits of various kinds for 13 lakh employees will involve fabric, processing, fabrication and finishing and for that Ms. Beri will obviously bill the Railway Ministry and that’s where the moolah is. The estimated value of the project is huge!
I am aware the adjective I used for Ritu Beri – ‘Once-Upon-A-Time’ designer will offend Beri and her close ones. But the truth is that Ritu is a fashion designer in hiatus. It has been years since she made a collection. I am not aware of any fashion retail outlet from where Ritu Beri label sells. I know she doesn’t have a production facility that can make 26 lakh (13 lakh employee X 2 sets of uniform per employee) uniforms.Railway Ministry did not feel the necessity to do a factory audit.
Ritu Beri – the ‘Sarkari Begum’ has a knack for grabbing huge government projects. She was offered all uniform projects for national and international sporting events by the disgraced former minister and the President of Olympic Association of India, Suresh Kalmadi. In 2007 Beri bypassed the tendering process to grab the uniform project for Air India and Indian Airlines. Tarun Tahiliani and JJ Valaya, who were shortlisted in the tender were told that tender has been cancelled and Ritu beri will do the uniforms. This was during UPA regime.
NDA regime boasts of transparency. Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu’s reputation is impeccable. So what made Prabhu offer Ritu Beri a project worth hundreds of crores without going through the tendering process or least of all, inviting few more designers to select from? It’s not the way government offer projects to private individuals or parties. Ritu Beri has been enjoying the perks of hob-mobbing with people in power. She is the Luxury League Founder of Narendra Modi’s pet project -‘Make in India’. She is also Advisor to Khadi Board. Her friendship with biggies in BJP makes her the darling designer for one and all fashion and textile projects of India?
Where is transparency? Where is meritocracy? Are they thrown out of the window for ‘Sarkari Begum’?