Starting from practically nothing, India has now become the world’s largest supplier of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in just 60 days. In two months, the industry has grown 56 times. Over 600 companies in India are certified to produce PPE and the country today manufactures 4.5 lakh pieces of PPE a day. India is now well-positioned to seize a share of the global market, which will be $60 billion by 2025, according to a report on ‘Personal Protective Equipment in India: A ₹7,000-crore industry in the making’, produced by Invest India, a company set up by the Indian government for investment facilitation.

PPE includes goggles, face-shields, masks (surgical and N-95), gloves (surgical and examination), coveralls and gowns, head cover and shoe cover. There are three broad customer categories for these products—industrial (for workers), healthcare (for doctors, nurses and attendants) and general consumers.

The authors of the report, Mishika Nayyar and Remya Lakshmanan Strategic Investment Research Unit, Invest India, say that India has an inventory of 15.96 lakh PPE kits and another 2.22 crore kits are being manufactured against firm orders by the industry.

The report notes that Bengaluru has become a major PPE hub where half the production happens. The rest of it is spread across the country—Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Ludhiana, Bhiwandi, Kolkata, Noida and Gurugram.

The textile biggies, such as Arvind Mills, JCT Mills and Welspun, are all into this business now. Businesses are gearing themselves up for an explosive growth in the market. For example, South India’s cotton knitwear capital, Tiruppur, has stepped-up production. The Tiruppur Exporters Association estimates the market to be ₹10,000-15,000 crore this year alone. The Association has been “pushing the (member) units to improve products” to meet global standards, to meet the rising global demand.

Not only the private industries, but even the Railways, Navy and Ordnance factories are now into PPE manufacturing. The Navy, for instance, is making PPEs with fabric that allows air flow through it, a product tested and approved by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Services (INMAS), part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation. As for railways, over 17 of its workshops are committed to producing PPEs.

The Invest India report says that for India to milk this opportunity, the country would need to “re-evaluate” some of the current bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.