The label ‘Made in China’ is ubiquitous in Indian markets, to the extent that it also stumped a Union Minister.“I was surprised when I got to know from my secretary [during a meeting] that even agarbatti (incense sticks) and spoons for eating ice cream were imported from China. So I asked him whether there was a dearth of spoons in India,” said Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Road Transport.Mr. Gadkari was addressing the second MSME Innovation Conclave at the city’s Mahratta Chamber Of Commerce Industries & Agriculture in the city on Friday. Reduce imports The minister stressed the need to reduce imports by giving a boost to enterprises in the MSME sector, and said the Centre is undertaking new projects to generate five crore jobs in the near future. “We have made it mandatory to serve tea in kulhads (earthen pots) at 400 rail stations so as to give employment to potters,” he said. He also said his ministry had increased the import duty. At least 25 lakh new jobs would be created in the incense stick manufacturing industry, which is expected to grow by ₹4,000 crore in the near future, he said.Around 10 crore to 11 crore jobs have been created thus far in this sector, the minister said. “An important thing is before the Parliament session begins, we will discuss the constitution of an ‘Udyog Mitra’ [industrial friend] to give the maximum benefits to small enterprises.”He said efforts were on to enhance exports from the sector to 69% from 49%. “While the MSME sector contributes 29% to the GDP, the government has planned to take the contribution to 50% in the next five years.”Mr. Gadkari also inaugurated a national conference on logistics and transportation at the Symbiosis Skills and Open University.Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Gadkari underscored the need to reduce logistic, capital and power costs, as well as the Centre’s decision to build 22 ‘green highways’. “The distance between Delhi and Mumbai will be reduced by 220 km as a result of this new alignment [green highway]. The highway will begin from Gurugram and pass through the tribal areas of Jhabua, Ratlam and course through Vadodara. As this 12-lane cement-concrete highway passes through tribal and backward areas, we have saved ₹16,000 crore in land acquisition,” he said.He said there was a need to use waterways more extensively to reduce transportation costs, and that 1,380 km had been completed on the Varanasi-Haldiya route. “We are planning to construct 40 river ports. We have submitted a project report to the World Bank for waterways on the Yamuna, which will start from Delhi and end in Prayagraj while coursing through Mathura, Agra, and Etawah… If the transportation cost by road is ₹10, it is ₹6 by railway and only ₹1 by waterways,” he said. Even the Mula-Mutha river in Pune city could be used for public transport in the future, he said.Mr. Gadkari stressed the need to move towards alternative fuels given that pollution was a major cause for concern in the country. “We have given work to generate fuel from bamboo and use it for generating aviation fuel and biofuel. The future is in bio-CNG, ethanol and methanol,” Mr. Gadkari said.