Textile Symphony in Ahmedabad-India


Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA

Global textile industry stakeholders gathered over the weekend in Ahmedabad for a technology symphony to deliberate on the way forward the sector. Over 800 delegates representing different counties like India, United States, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa and Uganda participated in the World Textile Conference-3, organized by Textile Association (India) [TAI], that focused on the entire textile value chain from cotton to industrial textiles to marketing. “We have organized this major event to be of service to the global textile sector in this critical time period,” stated Mahendrabhai Patel, Honorary Secretary of TAI.

The conference received the greatest attention and was inaugurated by Honorable Bhupendrabhai Patel, Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat in the presence of Honorable Mrs. Darshana Jardosh, Union Minister of State for Textiles & Railways, India. Tony Fragnito, President of the USA-based Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA) attended the event all the way from Cary, USA.

As is the case with Beethoven’s 5th Symphony set on four movements with vibrancy, tempo and melody, the conference focused on four notes: 1) Economy and textile sector; 2) Growth and fiber balance (Natural vs. Synthetics); 3) Sustainability and Innovation and 4) Training Next Generation and Research.

“Growth in manufacturing is happening in the APAC region and India is important in this equation,” stated Bryan Haynes, Technical Director Global Nonwovens of Kimberly-Clark, who travelled all the way from the United States for this conference. “Post COVID-19 era is experiencing the shift in global growth equation, supply chain issues and skilled labor issues. Hence there is a need to re-strategize,” stated Dr. P. R. Roy, Ex-CEO of Arvind Group and the Founder of Ahmedabad-based Diagonal Consulting.

Leaders from leading fiber companies such as Indorama and Reliance discussed the availability of fibers for the Indian industry which will be requiring about 20 million tons in the next 3-4 years. Effective utilization of resources like fibers is critical for the sector. Cotton Council International’s presentation focused on the services provided to better utilize United States’ cotton.

The need to collaborate more with institutes of research and higher learning has become important to gear-up innovation. “We focused on obtaining more industry participation in this event. 40 different companies ranging from fiber to hygiene products participated in this conference,” stated Tulsibhai Patel, Vice President of TAI. Major themes that occupied most discussions revolved around fiber needs, sustainability, plastic issues, technical textiles, and modernization. “India needs to grow big in technical textiles and  plan strategies for Indian companies to penetrate into this burgeoning sector,” opined Nirav Shah, Co-founder of Diagonal Consulting.

“Textile sector needs to focus now on modernization such as improving the quality of cotton, aiming at contamination-free fibers instead of expansion,” stated Velmurugan Shanmugam, General Manager of Aruppukkottai-based Jayalakshmi Textiles.  An important theme that came again and again like repeating motifs in a concert was the need for a skilled next-generation workforce and creating more awareness of emerging technologies. “Indian textile sector needs more information on practical knowledge and project details on technical textiles,” stated Gandhiraj Krishnasamy, Honorary Secretary of the South India Unit of TAI. As is the case with international symphony events, the textile conference was conducted in a massive auditorium Dinesh Hall in Ahmedabad, that can seat over 800 people with a world-class audio set-up such as the Musikverein in Austria, Vienna.

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