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Strike of 1984 turning point for Indian textile sector
Jan '13
Mr Arvind Somany
Mr Arvind Somany
“The Mumbai textile strike of 1984 led by the trade union leader – Datta Samant was the turning point as well as a decisive year for the Indian textile industry”, says Mr Arvind Somany - Managing Director of Ahmedabad based Soma Textile and Industries Ltd. 

“The strike led to the closing down of most of the textile mills in Mumbai. Secondly, it was only after 1982, that standalone weaving factories and printing houses mushroomed in Maharashtra and Gujarat, which further affected the Ahmedabad based textile mills and which also closed down one-by-one after the late 1980’s”, Mr Arvind Somany exclusively told fibre2fashion. 

“These are the two most important factors which have heavily influenced the Indian textile industry in the last three decades”, he says, when asked to recount the various factors which have deeply influenced the Indian textile industry. 
Explaining in detail, he says, “Prior to 1982, whatever the Indian mills produced - good, average or bad quality would be sold and one could even earn decent margins, since there were import controls and tariff barriers in that period.
“The Ahmedabad based mills had a jolly good time during the strike as before the strike, Mumbai mills accounted for around 30-40 percent of production in the country, most of which folded up during or after the strike. Mills of Ahmedabad pushed up production during those strike years as whatever was produced was sold out instantly.
“Weaving hubs of Bhiwandi and Ichalkaranji and printing mills in Ahmedabad and Surat sprang up after the strike. Composite mills could not meet competition from these small and nimble units. This was the second turning point. This time it was the turn of Gujarat based mills to collapse.  
“The second collapse came along as; these textile mills did not know how to meet the challenge posed by these small weaving and fabric printing units either by modernizing or by way of adding value and diversifying their product offerings. 
“One small but significant change also came about in the mid and late 1990’s. Textile mills started focusing on specific product categories and niche segments like denim fabrics, yarn dyed shirting, bottom weight fabrics, etc. This was the period when textile mills consolidated their operations in order to become more viable”.   
However, the most redeeming feature of the last three decades has been that Soma Textiles which was set up way back in 1963 has survived all these onslaughts and is now on the way to increasing its denim fabric production capacity to 24 million meters from 14 million meters in April 2013. Many may not be aware that Soma Textiles is one of the pioneers of denim fabrics in India along with Arvind Mills. 

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