Turn a crisis into an opportunity

Turn a crisis into an opportunity

In January 2020, when Coronavirus just started to make headlines globally, there was negligible domestic manufacturing of medical personal protective equipment (PPE) kit - mainly used by frontline healthcare workers - in India.

In January 2020, when Coronavirus just started to make headlines globally, there was negligible domestic manufacturing of medical personal protective equipment (PPE) kit – mainly used by frontline healthcare workers – in India. Kits were mostly imported. By the third week of May 2020, India became the world’s second-largest manufacturer of PPE body coveralls, crucial to safeguard against the COVID 19 pandemic. From 2.75 lakh PPE kits (mostly imported one) in January, India, as of May 22, 2020, had about 15.96 kits in the centre-state buffer stock.

Thanks to the government’s swiftpolicy changes andindustry’s quick action, India could become self-sufficient in a very short span of time. Producers of technical textiles played a pivotal role in this. 

As the PPE industry in India was very small before COVID 19 came, all raw materialswere imported from China. But after the pandemic broke out, the industry had to quickly develop a domestic supply chain with imports becoming impossible.The textile industry worked closely with the Government to create an entire industry from scratch. Today, over 275 companies in India are certified to make PPE kits – most of them are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). For example, Delhi based Grassroot Markmen, which forayed into production of PPE coveralls recently, manufactures 3,000 coveralls a day now. Bengaluru has emerged as a major PPE hubaccounting for half of the PPE kits production.

Looking at the projected demand of 2.01 crore kits till June 2020, the Central government has placed an order of 2.22 crore PPE kits – of which 1.42 crore kits will be supplied by domestic manufacturers. 

Technical textile has shown how to turn a crisis into an opportunity by banking on the collective strengthen (of companies and government agencies), team coordination and single-minded focus on the end objective. It has also paved the path for the success of other sectorial players.

With export orders from the key markets like the US, UK, etc dwindling, mask manufacturing has suddenly provided a great opportunity for the fashion industry. For example, Raymond, known for its suiting and fabrics, has started producing a range of safety products such as disposable and reusable masks, PPEs and gloves under its ‘Complete Care’ initiative. A new market of PPE, estimated to be worth at least Rs 100-120 billion, has popped up from nowhere due to the COVID 19 pandemic. India is also now well-positioned to seize a share of the global PPE market, which is likely to reach $60 billion by 2025.

With national governments in the US and European countries holding China responsible for COVID 19 triggered economic crisis, many companies would like to move out of China. India, with its large captive market and relatively open economic policies, can offer them anideal destination. 

Only time will tell whether we are able to encash on this opportunity.

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