Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA
Technical skill development, research and development are immediately needed for the textile sector.
Today, as I leave for the United States wrapping-up my three-month sojourn in India that resulted in many interactions with industrialists and academics spanning spinning, weaving, finishing and technical textiles, it became evident that the Indian textile sector is keen to diversify and is looking for ways forward to enhance its value.
The trip had its finale with a visit to Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences in Peenya, Bengaluru to interact with professors and students in the Faculty of Art and Design. I was pleased to notice the motto of the institute to be, ”Applied Brilliance Makes all the Difference.” Situated in the Peenya Industrial Estate that has about 900 garment units, it is a perfect fit that the university offers programs in industrial design and textile fashion design. Some of leading names in the sector that are housed in the area include Gokaldas Exports, Gemini Finishing Mill, Sonal Exports, Shahi Exports, Texport Oversees, etc.
The department of fashion design is focusing on institute-industry interaction with skill development activities such as a 45-day program on sewing for training workforce with less formal education such as those with just 5th grade, stated Dr. Mamatha Hegde, head of the department of fashion design. With the support of central and state governments, training programs for shop floor technicians in the garment industry such as fabric quality evaluation, garment manufacturing basics, shop floor management that includes occupational safety are planned.
Recently a few garment units have closed due to lack of exports and labor issues stated, Mamatha Hegde. This necessitates the need for new product development to enhance the textile sector, added Hegde.
As part of my interaction with about 200 people, I was fortunate to do a demonstration of the “Towelie,” oil absorbent product, which was conceived by me to address the Gulf of Mexico oil spill issue. Undergraduate students showed keen interest to know about research and development activities in textiles. B. Ram Kishan, a third year undergraduate product design student enthusiastically performed hands-on demonstration of the “Towelie,”oil absorbent. Hopefully, such activities would create interests among young students to take-up applied textile research to address global issues.
Training textile industry workforce at shop floor and research levels is the need of the hour. This aspect has been aptly handled by the current Modi Government by launching the “Skill India,” campaign to train industrial workforce in different fields. Industry will benefit if skills for marketing and project management are also imparted.