Dr. K.S. Sundararaman, Chairman, ITTA delivers inaugural speech at the 10th AGM

Technical Textiles
Dr. K.S. Sundararaman, Chairman, ITTA

The 10th AGM of the Indian Technical Textile Association (ITTA), conducted virtually for the first time in its history, was held mid-December, 2020. The ITTA Chairman, Dr. K S Sundararaman, praised the efforts of all stakeholders involved in promptly responding to the demands of the unprecedented times during the COVID pandemic. He thanked all for executing their responsibilities admirably. He welcomed the central government initiatives that are bolstering the confidence of the technical textiles sector and for enabling it to become a global name in manufacturing the protective gear.

Excerpts from his inaugural speech:

Handling COVID Responsibly

ITTA has been at the forefront in responding to the COVID crisis at a national level. In mid-March, the Ministry of Textiles requested for guidance on availing SITRA-certified PPEs and it was a time when there was not a single manufacturer making them in India. But within a few days, we could respond well. ITTA was well feted on multiple forums for the work of its members as they worked on repurposing machines and quickly moving into new areas, such as laminating polyethylene, and polyurethane membranes. They soon went beyond the threshold standards set by SITRA, besides ramping up capacity and enabling garment manufacturers like AEPC (Apparel Export Promotion Council) and others to have enough material feedstock.

The challenge in the initial days was the lack of fabric producers in India to make PPEs. Soon, we were able to produce in surplus of the demand. And today, the journey continues as people are exporting too.

Each member here truly defines the Indian spirit of entrepreneurship. And we are a case study today for many people globally to follow. It is heartening to know that ITTA’s contribution has been recognized by the honorable Minister and the Secretary.

We are in the spotlight and today, the Indian government, and the textile industry are looking up to us as the torchbearers of technology, who will define the future. The bar has been set high, and we will leap across it. We are in the process of supporting the domestic PPE manufacturing sector in the country. ITTA has, on multiple forums, represented the cause of exporters – be it the masks, laminated fabrics or PPEs. We have been relentless in working with the government to come up with a balanced solution of catering to both Indian and international demand for the PPEs.

ITTA is vociferously requesting the government to lift the ban on meltblown fabrics, and we have been given indications that it will happen soon.

Today, as vaccine seems to be on the horizon, we have created a completely new segment of technical textiles worth Rs. 7000-8000 crores.

The Textile Industry – Projections

We have rebounded in most of the segments and those catering to the defense purposes are looking forward to a great year going forward business wise. Similarly, on multiple fronts, we think that the Indian technical textile industry is going to witness positive times.

Talking about ITTA’s engagement with the government, we were included in the original discussions and recommendations which ultimately shaped the National Mission on Technical Textiles (NMTT) with a budget of Rs. 1480 crores. Today, the NMTT comprises multiple steering committees to clarify and execute its vision. ITTA is confident that it will be able to guide the stakeholders better since we also have a stake in how the policy pans out.

ITTA has also been interested in creating the technical textile EPC (engineering, procurement and construction). And we have made our applications and representations for the same. The central government is focused on developing the technical textiles segment.

The PLI scheme will be in vogue and will undergo multiple iterations. It is aimed at large established industries to grow multi-fold based upon significant government incentives. Out of the 40 sectors that have been identified by the government for the PLI scheme, 30 are in the garment space of which 10 are in the technical textile arena. And ITTA’s recommendations on the technical textiles have been published verbatim and we have been assured that the government will look at them as the focus product sectors. In addition to the PLI scheme, the central government is looking at creating international linkages to both grow the profile of Indian technical textiles, as well as bring international testing agencies into the country. On ITTA’s recommendation, the government is working with the Telangana state government to create world-class testing labs and centers in the state. On its fruition, it would reduce the turnaround times for testing, and will pave the way for globally accredited companies and labs to share knowledge besides lending credibility to Indian technical textile manufacturers as a whole, for the suppliers and customers around the globe.

ITTA continues to work closely with the BIS in multiple forums, besides the office of the Textile Commissioner and other agencies of the textile ministry. Post COVID, we hope conducting physical engagements and events will further our achievements.

One of the agenda points at this particular AGM is to ratify changes to the Articles of Association of ITTA which has already been approved unanimously at the board level. It will lead to a more transparent and democratic process to make ITTA a vibrant organization in the future.

ITTA has come to a level where multiple state governments are engaging with us, seeking advice on changing their schemes, and to understand how they can further develop technical textile segment. If there is a high level of attention on us, then there is also a high level of belief and trust in ITTA.

We are going from strength to strength.

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