Technical Textiles: Pathway to Success
Eight years have passed since major resonance happened in India in the field of technical textiles. Government of India has to be thanked for fiscal and non-fiscal measures to grow the technical textiles sector. From a global point of view, this industry is a growth sector which is registering an annual growth of about 5% even in developed economies. Looking back at the history, although the unorganized form of this sector can be traced back to the post World War II era, technical textiles (value-added textiles) as an organized sector is just four decades old, while this sector has just begun to organize in India.
WHERE IS INDIA IN THIS PICTURE?
Although there are a number of critiques who are skeptical about the 20% growth number, the Government of India projects for this sector, it is important to understand that all stakeholders in this field have understood the necessity to think beyond the conventional fiber to fashion supply chain. This has become necessary due to the need for the textile industry to stay competitive against low wage exporting countries. In the recent past decade, awareness has increased tremendously about technical textiles. However, projects have not materialized keeping-up in pace with both public and private sector backed awareness programs. In my opinion, there are two major aspects that need to be looked into seriously to grow the industry: 1) analyzing and developing market for technical textiles and 2) product know-how on different technical textiles at the end-user level.
Indian technical textile market is nascent and is quite honestly depending on government's push and mandatory regulations to penetrate into different sectors. For instance, the technical textiles sector, particularly geotextiles industry, is expecting that the Ministry of Textiles' push will enable its penetration in public sectors such as roadways, highways and rail roads, etc. Although this view is in the right track, in order for other ministries and other sectors to buy-in, valid project reports and techno-economics data are needed. For instance, the immediate task ahead for the Ministry of Textiles and the stakeholders is to evaluate the techno-economic feasibility of geotextiles in the Indian roadways set-up. This has to be done in conjunction with public sector and government bodies such as the Ministry of Transportation and NHAI, to name a few. Although there are few reports available, a comprehensive techno-economic report on the type of geotextiles, its benefit to the roadways and the transportation ministry is needed. This will also enable the creation of a database on geotextiles, its properties and economic benefits in the infrastructure projects such as highways, dams, etc. Such a task should be based on Indian conditions and necessities. This coordinated effort should be undertaken as soon as possible within this five year plan period so that, based on the techno-economic feasibility; hopefully geotextiles can become part of Indian national infrastructure development. Instead of pushing the use of geo products without reliable data, it would be difficult to justify such uses by the end-users and relevant ministries. It is clear from the above picture, there is a need for the creation of a market for institutional buyers and solid reports for multiple buyers to buy-in to the idea of consuming technical textiles. In other words, generation of techno-economic data and reliable database for technical textiles at the end- user level is necessary. Such a task is not only limited to one sector such as geotextiles, but also to multiple technical textile products such as medical textiles, agrotextiles, protective textiles and autotextiles.