Indian Textile Sector has the Potential to Double

Indian textile industry can double in the next five years if certain challenges are addressed.

It was such a relish for me to have visited with Mr. M. K. Ganesh Bapu, CEO of Madurai-based Ganesh Textile Agencies, who is a fellow alumnus of the prestigious Chennai-based institution Alagappa College of Technology. Having graduated B. Tech in textiles in 1978, Ganesh Bapu has had over 4-decades of rich experience in the textile sector. He now focuses on yarn exports and trading textile machinery based out of the temple city—Madurai in South India.

A tête-à-tête with Ganesh Bapu in a coffee shop this morning in Madurai revealed his rich experience and knowledge of the Indian textile industry. Indian textile sector contributes 5% to the global textile trade, which can double in the coming five years, provided a concerted effort is taken by the stakeholders, said Ganesh Bapu.

The current stressful cotton yarn situation in India, with lack of demand from China should be considered as an opportunity for the industry to regroup and come out with growth plans. Pressure from fluctuations in cotton price will be an ongoing issue as it varies with supply, hedging and stocking by multinational companies. Indian government should help the industry by easing the interest on working capital, creating a level playing field on par with international rates.

Value-addition beyond the spinning sector by focusing on the manufacturing of high-valued garments, development of feasible technical textile products, both for domestic and exports markets are some of the areas that need prompt consideration according to Ganesh Bapu.

Indian industry has to work with domestic R &D institutions in creating practical knowhow on technical textiles products. And, finding international collaborations for marketing industrial products should be thought seriously. He applauded the “Towelie,” oil sorbent model, wherein an Indian manufacturing industry has tied-up with United States’ based company to market. When the market matures in India, for these products, domestic market can be tapped.

In the conventional sector, building a pipeline of skilled workforce at the shop floor level is critically needed. Attention need to be given to vocational training schools for technicians in the textile field akin to those of electricians and plumbers—a sage advice indeed!

Enhancing the conventional sector by widening the product basket, collective effort among government, industry and R & D to develop value-added products that can be marketed and strengthening applied research and vocational training systems are a few valuable take home messages from the meeting.

Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA