Tirupur, the heartland of the knitwear industry in India has a supplier base which consists essentially of manufacturer who are mostly integrated forward or backward if not vertical. There are number of spinners of yarn integrating forward to set up knitting plant; textile process house and then further integrating forward to become makers of garments. Such forward integrated exporters who have grown forward from yarn spinners are Eastman, Centwin, Poppy's, Tube Knits Fashions, KPR etc. and those who have grown forward from leading process houses are Victus Dyeing (Geena Garments), Reliance Dyeing, SCM, PKP etc. have also integrated forward to establish garment making units. Examples of backward integration are very few like Dhanam International, Kay Tee Corporation, Network Clothing Company etc. In Tirupur, if the integration is not wholly owned by the exporter to become a vertical unit then the exporters buy stakes or invest into a


process house to become partners to ensure preference to their orders for the textile process and maintain standard quality as desired by their buyers. The owners of the process house are regulated by stringent legislations of the Tamilnadu state for the environment controls. In Tirupur the process houses must have Reverse Osmosis or Zero Effluent Discharge plant or else the existing plants have to close and application of new plants will not be approved. Therefore, the amount of investments in terms of plant & machinery and overheads in the integrated garment industry is quite high as compared to other knitwear clusters and thus requires efficient management for timely Return on Investment. This factor motivates them to continuously upgrade the existing technology to the acceptable international levels and think for post 2004 survival as a group together to prepare a strategy to compete the suppliers within India or abroad, in non-quota open competition period starting 2005. In spite of the fact that the Tirupur town is reeling under acute infrastructural shortage, the Tirupur knitwear exporters are able to make a mark in the international sourcing map of the textile industry because they work as a group and help each other for a common cause. Thanks to this community thinking of the exporters, they bear the inconveniences with a positive grin and willingly finance fully or partly projects of road, culvert, drinking water supply etc. repairs or new construction carried out by the municipality and or panchayat.


Tirupur textile industry has units all along the value chain of knitwear starting from spinning, knitting wet processing, printing, garment manufacturing and exports. In addition there are ancillary units supplying buttons, laces, embroidery, cones and yarn processing etc. Despite being late entrant, Tirupur's annual production far exceeds that of other knitwear clusters. There are more than 500 production units which are involved in exports of knitwear from Tirupur. Entire Tirupur cluster generates direct employment for over 300,000 persons. Tirupur in 1981 had a meager share of 15% of the total knitwear exports from India and by year 2000 its share reached a formidable figure of 51%. Recent informal surveys indicate that Tirupur accounts for nearly 80% of basic circular cotton knitwear exports from India. In the year 2002-03 Tirupur exports touched a value of Rs.3, 000 crores. It is expected that Tirupur exports will grow much faster than the rest of India's export economy. The rapid industrial development at Tirupur attracts workers from different districts of Tamilnadu and neighbouring states seeking jobs.


Hundreds of thousands of floating industrial labour population at Tirupur had created a social problem peculiar to the industrialization since the times of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist- abandoned children and or child labour. The child labour issue in all organized export companies does not exist, thanks to the social awareness of the exporters due to the most buyers demanding social accountability norms which forbids employment of child labour. Kovai Child Labour Abolition Support Society a leading NGO based at Collectorate Office in Coimbatore city (nearest airport for Tirupur and its district headquarters, 1 hour from Tirupur by road) has undertaken a central government funded National Child Labour Project (NCLP) in 1995 and is very active in Tirupur and two neighbouring Talukas of Palldam and Avinashi. Total 80 schools are administered by the NCLP each school has students ranging from 50 to 100. This facility is for the street and parent less children. The students study by play way method for one year and then join regular schools. Every year about 1,300 to 2,000 such students pass out to join regular schools. The NCLP is monitored by the project coordinators and every three month a review committee headed by the collector reviews the progress. Besides this Migros, Swiss based buyers, have a card board tag on each of their product declaring that a part of the sale proceed on that product will go as contribution to the child welfare of the region it is manufactured in. They fund to manage a school in Tirupur. Also the Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) manages a school for the children.