By: Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar

India is now recognized as an important textile and manufacturing powerhouse. What is its standing in nonwoven and technical textiles? Recently, India has generated great interest among the two leading nonwoven trade association: INDA-USA and EDANA. More particularly, the US based Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA) is taking a keen interest in India as it is perceived as a great market for its 300 members. During April 24-26, INDA organized its engineered fabric exposition popularly known as IDEA, which is held once in three years. A unique feature of this event was the showcase on India on the inaugural day of the conference.

The session on India featured two talks which gave the international audience a flavor of India showcasing the macro economic picture of India as well as specific schemes by Government of India for the growth of the textile industry in India. Dr. Sowmitra Choudhari, Member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India opened his keynote lecture by giving an optimistic picture of growth for India. His talk was well received as it gave an overall picture of the macro economic growth in the non-farm sector in India. According to him, the traditional impediments to growth such as food scarcity, foreign exchange scarcity and investible resources are all non-issues today enabling growth and development.

He also highlighted some of the constraints faced by foreign investors as well as for the growth in India which is primarily attributed to lack of infrastructure. He echoed the Goldman Sachs view that Indian GDP will surpass the US GDP in 2045 and the UK, France and German GDP by 2020. This is a landmark figure if proven true, will enable India to be an economic superpower. He also gave very positive figure for the consumer and disposable products industry such as nonwovens which is going to benefit a lot due to the expansion of the middle class population as well as their private financial consumption expenditure (PFCE).

According to Dr Choudhari, the PFCE will increase by a factor of five resulting in the consumption of enormous disposable goods�a positive factor for the Indian nonwoven industry. Mr. J .N. Singh, the Textile Commissioner of India, gave a lecture that focused primarily on the status of technical textiles and highlighted important government schemes to boost this sector in India. In India, there is no distinct segmentation between nonwoven and other technical textiles industry. Nonwovens are generally grouped under technical textiles which is expected to have an annual growth rate of 14.6%. According to Mr. Singh, the technical textile industry is worth USD 11.5 billion by 2012.

The disposal segment of the nonwoven textile industry will reach 65 million US dollars and the durable segment will reach 325 million US dollars by 2012. In order to cater to the growing need of nonwovens goods, India has to import nonwoven fabrics as we do not have a substantial home industry base. In the recent past, India has imported good number of nonwoven machinery and the latest figure according to Mr. Singh amounts to USD 52 million for 2006-07. The total capacity of the major nonwoven technologies in India amounts to 102,000 metric tons per annum. Mr. Singh also attributed to the growth of the middle class population who has disposable wealth to be the reason for the growth in nowoven and technical sectors in India.

The optimistic growth figures quoted by both Dr. Choudhari and Mr. Singh have been strongly endorsed by INDA with the release of its first report �India-Nonwovens Outlook 2007-2012�. INDA has estimated the current consumption of nonwovens in India in 2007 to be 47,000 tons which is expected to grow to 86,000 tons at a rate of 13% per year by 2012. Major technologies such as needlepunched, spunlace, spunlaid and airlaid are expected to record double digit growth by 2012. Both durable and disposable sectors are predicted to have growth opportunities which will enable investment opportunities for roll good producers, converters and machinery manufacturers.

Government of India is supporting the growth of the technical textile sector by providing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) option for this sector in addition to 5% custom duty on machinery import. Additional support schemes have to be provided by the Government of India in order to grow this industry base in India. It will be very helpful if the Government of India considers 10% capital subsidy in addition to 5% interest subsidy for technical textile sector. Currently, this scheme is for the processing sector which has to be extended to the technical textile sector.

In addition to all these government subsidies there are two important aspects: 1) creating awareness of the nonwovens technical textile sector and 2) one stop R&D and knowledge base centre in India that are immediately needed. It is in the interest of all the stake holders such as the government, industry, academia and textile research associations, to create a feverish awareness on the impact of nonwoven technical textiles in India which has to be accomplished in the next two years. How is possible? By providing a number of international platforms and technical conferences on this subject in India. In this vein, there is going to be a mega international technical conference on �Advances in Textiles, Machinery, Nonwoven and Technical Textiles-ATNT 2007,� organized by Texas Tech University, USA and Kumaraguru College of Technology in Coimbatore from June 18-20, 2007.

Leading nonwoven and technical textile machinery manufacturers, scientists, academicians from USA, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Czech Republic, India and China will be gathering in Coimbatore to discuss state-of-art in the field of textiles. Let us use this international platform to interact, learn and create new market opportunities. More information on the international conference is available at www.atnt2007.com

About the author:

Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar is Assistant Professor at Nonwoven and Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA. He is also Co-Chairman of INDA-India Committee, INDA, USA. He has come to India to promote Nonwoven Fabrics Industry.
Email: Seshadri.Ramkumar@TIEHH.TTU.edu


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