Yogesh Kusumgar, Chairman of Kusumgar Corporates, speaks to the Indian Textile Journal, about the market for technical textiles in India, and the wish-list for the government to give the much-needed push for the industry.
How do you think technical textiles have been growing in our country?
Technical textiles market in India has touched Rs 95,000 crore and is growing at 15 per cent per annum. Statistics may appear to be highly encouraging but in reality, the growth is mainly confined to packtextiles. Other segments of technical textiles need to be promoted for the real and strategical growth of technical textiles.
The Government of India under the Ministry of Textiles and other organisations have done an excellent job in the last decade to create awareness of technical textiles. Equally encouraging is the fiscal benefits provided to entrepreneurs in the form of capital subsidy and subsidised interest to promote technical textiles.
The Government [now] needs to introduce regulations of national interest to promote technical textiles. In spite of disastrous incidences of loss of human lives attributed to propagation of fire caused by textiles, there is no regulation for using fire-retardant textiles in public places. More serious concern is the fact that the tents accommodating our soldiers have been gutted at borders. It is an awakening call for the Government to act as a regulator to introduce fire-retardant textiles and make them mandatory for safety and security of people, particularly soldiers who are fighting at the borders.
The Government has set up eight Centers of Excellence (COEs) and incubation centres, and has liberally financed for the equipment. However there is a need for better pragmatic scheme to attract industry to get engaged with COEs and incentivation centers, failing which the real success of COEs and incubation centres pose serious question. The call of the day is to create awareness amongst the users’ segments for growth of technical textiles. Awareness needs to be created among users’ segments that technical textiles can replace conventional technology and materials and products so produced can perform better with cost advantages.
It is felt entrepreneurs in India need to change their mindset and be more strategical and logical than to adopt conventional and conservative approach while investing in technical textiles. We need to realise that the return on investment will not commence from very first year but may be from third year onwards.
As a country, we need to focus on technical textiles, which have innovative application. Our country is poised for revolution in infrastructural development whether it is rail, road, marine or air. Can the country be self sufficient without technical textiles? This is where ‘Make in India’ concept comes into picture.
As a whole, technical textiles which were unknown till 1992, has become a buzzword for the entrepreneurs and the industry. It is time to adopt matured approach for real strategical growth of technical textiles so that the country meets with local requirements and also contribute towards export of technical textiles.
What is your company’s contribution so far in TT?
At Kusumgar Corporates (KCPL), the commercial activity in technical textiles commenced in 1970 when the demand of technical textiles was not adequate for growth. As a result, the company had to revolve 360-degree for survival and sustainable growth. It was a challenge to understand users requirement in different segments and translate them into technical textiles. But the challenge so faced has given reasonable opportunity for the growth of the company. The company has a basic philosophy to adopt changing technologies and develop products that provides growth not only to the company but also contribute to the larger cause of the nation. KCPL has a joint venture with Saati of Italy for protection textiles to produce ballistic fabrics, used for bulletproof vests and helmets of soldiers. With the organised growth of automotive industry in India, the company has joint venture with Toray Kusumgar Advanced Textiles Pvt Ltd for the production of airbag fabrics.
It is unfortunate that the use of airbags in cars is not mandatory in our country although it provides safety to those who are travelling. The company can boast that it is exporting high-end technical textiles to the developed countries of France and the US and its contribution of exports accounts for 26 per cent of the turnover of the company.
Does India’s growth in technical textiles need a big boost? What is your wish-list for the industry and the Government to give this much-needed push?
India’s growth in technical textiles needs more organised, strategical and committed. In a country with population of 1.3 billion, what would be the requirement of Taffeta fabric, which finds multiple applications right from wind cheaters to umbrella, back packs, lining materials and many more. Is it not a need of the hour for a unit to be set us which begins with production of basic yarns to final textile product? Even small country like Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan have such units beginning with yarns to final textile product. Entrepreneurs must realise that around 70 per cent of the product would be of a commodity nature and balance customised commodity. At the same time, the demand would be huge and consistent. On the other hand, there is a need to not only produce technical textiles but to produce end products. For example: The country is marching to produce helicopters and aircraft in the country. Same is applicable when we talk about bullet trains or trains having speed of more than 200 km. per hour. Survival balloons is a matter of need for the country and entrepreneurs must accept the challenges to produce these products in India to make the concept of ‘Make in India’ a great success.