By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA 

(Lubbock, USA, August 31, 2022)-–Ongoing global situations like inflation, price volatilities and the pandemic is putting stress across many sectors affecting the price and demand of textiles. 

Managing difficult situations demand important life skills like confidence, diplomacy, planning, long term analysis of situations, and utilizing interdisciplinary talents.  

It has become clear that industries like textiles, cotton production and manufacturing need to interact with academia, policy makers and brands for its mid to long term planning. While it has become a widespread practice to seek management expertise, COVID-19 has emphasized the need to get support for enhancing life skills that focus on human centric attributes like empathy, counseling, managing difficult scenarios, etc. 

Recently, I had an opportunity to present the importance of life skills as part of creating innovative ideas in an event jointly organized by the Indian Association of Life Skills Education (IALSE) and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, India. The event attracted students, faculty, and members of IALSE. 

How can one innovate was the question posed as the theme of the meeting. I placed the argument that everyone is an innovator in their own way and by watching the society around us we become innovators. Listening and paying attention to what happens in the society are important life skills that are needed for development. 

“Life skills promote the enhancement of key psycho-social skills such asTEXT communication, interpersonal relationship, managing our emotions, stress, and cognitive skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and decision making,” stated Ms. Sunitha Ranjan, President of Indian Association of Life Skills Education. 

How can life skill education support cotton, textile, and manufacturing sector, was the question posed by Dr. Ram Asrey Lal, Chairperson of the North India Section of The Textile Institute, who participated in the event. In answering this question, I emphasized the need for better communication among stakeholders in the cotton sector about weather, agronomic and marketing practices. By adopting scientific approaches in sourcing cotton, analyzing data on the supply and demand from reliable sources like USDA, observing global economic patterns and being better informed using reliable data are some ways one can manage risks in the textile sector.  

Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. meets regularly during the cotton growing season, where crop situation, insect and weed pressures, marketing details are discussed. Interesting aspect of these meetings is the participation of stakeholders that involve cotton farmers, bankers, seed companies, academics, researchers, and representatives of elected politicians. The platform involves active participation of different groups of the sector, where topical matters are discussed—this is indeed practicing of life skills for advancing the cause.  

“Life skills help in developing relationship and resiliency. It helps to connect well with people of different work and cultural backgrounds,” stated Dr. Radhakrishnan Nair, Founder President of Indian Association of Life Skills Education.

Global cotton sector can benefit a lot from life skill education. Given the current global textile situation, the industry should involve life skill educators to impart timely skills to people in the textile sector.