The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil) has recently released A Benchmarking Study of Production Costs in India vis-à-vis Bangladesh,China,Egypt,Indonesia,Pakistan and Turkey. Texprocil chairman and a textile industry veteran,Manickam Ramaswami discusses the implication of the reports findings with Sushila Ravindranath.
How has Indian textile industry emerged so competitive?
The industry operates under extremely low overheads,which are a tiny fraction of the overheads of similar size companies in any other industry. Our operating machine speed in spinning and weaving is 30 per cent higher when compared to China. Most Indian mills follow lean manufacturing,even if they are not familiar with the concept. Surprisingly,power,labour and equipment are key factors that have made the Indian textile industry intrinsically competitive.
Hasnt the power shortage,especially the south,been a major problem?
We have been constantly working on reducing specific energy consumption although we have gone in for higher level of automation and mechanisation which actually adds to energy consumption. The exporting mills of power starved south get 50 per cent of their power needs from their own wind mills which is about 3000 MW. The sector has learnt to optimise production by increasing the capacity of low-cost machines and running as much of the facility possible only during nights and those infrequent power available moments.
Our labour productivity is said to be quite low.
A false impression has been created that our labour productivity is lower than Bangladesh. Our workers are actually as good as the best. Almost all exporting companies across sectors have in house training facilities capable of converting unskilled and uneducated workers into world class operatives who can operate highly sophisticated state-of-the-art machines,that too within three months.
What about equipment?
Our industry was pretty outdated till the late 1990s. Now it has rapidly transformed itself into a very modern one with a fair degree of automation and mechanisation because of Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme. Many global machinery manufacturers have set up shop in India and are offering world class machines at Indian prices to the spinning sector. However,this has not happened in weaving,knitting and home textile manufacturing. We fall behind in processing as well.