The Manchester of India – Ahmedabad
Early man learnt quite late, in the evolutionary timeline, to learn to weave and spin cotton and make clothes and textiles out of it. However, the major boost in the weaving and textile industry came right during the boom of Industrial Revolution with large scale mechanization and widespread use of automatic spinning wheels. At that time, the world’s first automatic steam driven cotton mill was developed by industrialist Richard Arkwright.
The machine later remained to be known as Arkwright Mill. Cotton thus became the king of all textiles in the world. Towns around the rivers, especially Manchester, with its damp weather became the major hubs of textile industry as there was constant supply of power (generated from the water from the Pennines). At around mid-1800s, the number of cotton mills in Manchester rose to above 100.
A similar situation to that is seen today in our very own eastern State Gujarat particularly in the city of Ahmedabad or as the locals calls it, ‘Ambavad’. There have been large scale improvements not only in the cotton industry but also in all sectors including pharmaceuticals, Information Technology, etc. is seen here.
- Ahmedabad has a thriving textile industry hence the title, ‘Manchester of India’
- The industry provides jobs to many locals, as well as to people outside the State, both as skilled as well as unskilled labours. The industry here offers well-paid white collar jobs. In fact, it not only offers jobs to the labour class but also to highly educated professionals as well.
- The concentration of textile mills in Ahmedabad is about 66 per 8 to 10 kilometers.
- The industry here dates back to the 19th Century when the British set up the city as well as the industry.
- Textiles are one of the major reasons of the booming economy of ‘vibrant’ Gujarat.
- Cotton based garments manufactured here are famous throughout the world and is exported to many countries that not only fetch high revenues but also earn India it’s share and is a great tool of Indian representation in the world market as well as in the foreign soil.
- Just like the Pennines in Manchester provided water for constant power supply, the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad facilitates with enough water to cultivate a large amount of cotton and also is a source of hydroelectricity. As a result, irrigation costs as well as electricity bills are cut down reducing the overhead costs. This results in a reduction in the cost of manufacturing thus facilitating competitive pricing.
- The enriched black soil that is rampantly found everywhere in Ahmedabad is extremely suited for the cotton cultivation. The climate found here is also extremely appropriate for the cultivation of cotton as well as for its spinning. Damp weather reduces instances of snapping off of the cotton strands while being spun.
- A gargantuan network of railways and roadways improves the overall connectivity of the area, thus fueling prosperous and quicker trade which leads to a tremendous reduction of logistics cost and losses which subsequently surface up as an exponential gain in overall economy.
- Ahmedabad’s location near the sea makes it extremely feasible and easy for the export of textiles from the ports.
- The technologies engaged in the textile industry are fairly labour intensive and so is cheap labour available in plenty in Ahmedabad.
- It lies near the main cotton belt of the nation and there is no problem of obtaining raw cotton either from Ahmedabad or from other nearby areas.
- All these however would not have been possible without the active and enthusiastic involvement of the government which tirelessly toils to make the magical industry a living legend.
- The government has already targeted the development in the organized as well as the unorganized sectors of the industry, stressing upon the establishment of integrated textile parks, promotion of cotton based handicrafts, pure cotton products, development of either infrastructure to facilitate this sector.
- Opportunities for all, whether an individual is a fresher or experienced is available as the city requires all kinds of workforces, which allows an individual to choose the sort of work he likes. This results in more job satisfaction, and subsequently improves the work output of an individual.
- One of the largest producers of denims, Arvind Textiles Industries Limited, manufactures jeans for more than 50% of the companies of the world including semi-premium brands like USPA, Arrow USA, Lee, Nautical, etc.
- Textile industry is usually a family business where the top rungs of the company management are descendants of the founding families.
- The presences of various cotton research and development institutes present here ensure the prosperous and innovative growth of cotton. They also train the people and make them aware about the various pest and diseases that the cotton plantation might get inflicted with. Some notable institutes include – Central institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Ahmedabad Textile Industry Research Association (ATIRA), etc.
- Incentive schemes have been started by the Government of Gujarat for the promotion of high quality cotton and silk in order to facilitate higher export volume which fetches better prices in the world market thus improving economy as well as the living standards of the farmers in the long run.
- Various investments summits are being held across India and Gujarat for attracting investors to consolidate their money into the medium and small scale industries market, especially into the textile sector. This would not only improve the condition of the industry but will also give higher returns to the stake holders and the taxes that the government would collect on that dividend amount will go to the exchequer for the development of India.
- The government in Ahmedabad Is promoting the establishment of special economic zones (SEZ) which would become a concentrated hot spot of revenue and job generation and various subsidies are also given by the government in these regions so that trade could flourish without external intervention and unnecessary red tape. There have been established in total, 57 Special Economic Zones in Gujarat which encompass not only the textile industry but also other industries such as – pharmaceuticals, chemicals, automation, engineering and mechanization, etc.
After the partition of India, most of the cotton mills were retained by India whereas the cotton plantations fell on the Pakistan side of the border. This called for a massive large scare revolution of the textile industry. With the joint efforts of some benevolent and aware industrialists and the Government, the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA) was founded in 1949.
Of all the co-operative research institutions of the country, ATIRA is one of the oldest. It provides help and consultancy in all aspects of the industry and to every individual associated it from fiber to finished products marketing. The annual management conferences at held by ATIRA helps in the exchange of new business as well as scientific ideas which further aid in the proliferation of the textile industry and subsequently boosts the economy.
Without the efforts of the organization, large scale improvements were only far far-fetched vision and could never be completed to fruition.
India has a diverse history of textiles. The history of textiles in India can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization who used home spun cotton for weaving. And Indian textiles, because of its sophistication of manufacturing and intricate design were in high demand throughout the world.
The Indian textile industry, even today, continues mainly to be cotton based. Since independence, it has seen many developments. The Ministry of Textiles, Government of India has played a major role in this development. Cotton is one of the major crops cultivated in India.
It comprises of more than 70% of the total fiber consumption in spinning mills and more than 50% in the total fiber consumption in the entire textile sector. In view of the importance of technology in the cotton textile industry, the government has launched various initiatives such as the Technology Mission on Cotton in the year February 2000 to bring about tangible improvement in productivity and the quality of cotton and to reduce the cost of production.
Considering the need for up gradation in different sectors of the textiles industry, the government has launched the Technology up-gradation fund scheme TUFS with the objectives of 5% reimbursement of the normal interest, 15% credit linked capital subsidy for the Small Scale Sector, 20% credit linked subsidy for the Power loom Sector.
All these facts only speak out loudly that India is indeed home to the Manchester of the East in Ahmedabad and its progress into a hub of modern manufacturing makes it shine like a tiara on the crown of the textile industry of the world. Business and economy are close partners and have to go hand in hand.
In Ahmedabad, with the collective support of labourers, workers, managers, industrialists as well as the Government, the textile industry has proven to be one of the most profit bearing and has a tremendous impact on the country’s GDP as well as in keeping the social prestige of India in the world Cotton market as one of the finest of them all.