Opinion: Indian Textile Sector Has the Potential to Double

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

It was a treat to visit with Mr. M. K. Ganesh Bapu, CEO of Madurai-based Ganesh Textile Agencies and a fellow alumnus of the prestigious Chennai-based institution Alagappa College of Technology. Having graduated in 1978, Ganesh Bapu has had over four 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.

Advertisement

A casual meeting with Ganesh Bapu in Madurai revealed his rich experience and knowledge of the Indian textile industry. The 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, he said.

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

Adding value beyond the spinning sector by focusing on the manufacturing of high-valued garments and 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.

The Indian industry must 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. Ganesh Bapu applauded the “Towelie” oil sorbent model, wherein an Indian manufacturing industry has partnered with a United States-based company to market. When the market matures in India for these products, the domestic market can be tapped.

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

Enhancing the conventional sector by widening the product basket, a 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.