Tirupur Knitwear Industry

Some of the earliest Chola stone carvings have mentioned about “Kanchi Maanadhi” (the Noyyal River) and about the fertile sand that it deposits on its banks. It is evident from it that the land around Tirupur was fertile and thus agriculture flourished in the region. That’s why today too Tirupur is a centre for trading of cotton, vegetables etc.

The historical research on Tirupur leads us back to the “thottams” or well irrigated farms around the town, as most of the industrialists of today have come from modest agricultural backgrounds. Through countless interviews about their lives and work, it has been realised that it was these modest farmers who have innovated in the organisation of the industry. As the industry grew from the old interlock baniyans, vests & underwears to jersey banians with an all-India market in the 1970s, the first generation of industrialists expanded the industry in dispersed units throughout the city. The uniqueness of Tirupur’s work culture has made it difficult for the big Indian textile giants to enter and capture a large market share.

The first baniyan factory in Tirupur was started in 1925. With the advent of electricity in 1931, more knitting and weaving factories came into existence. Initially, all the knitting machines were imported from Germany, Japan and New York. By 1942, there were 34 hosiery factories in all. By 1968 this increased to 250 and today sophisticated machines are being imported from Germany, Japan, Italy, U.S.A., Korea, Taiwan and many other countries.

While knitwear exports from Tirupur continued to flourish throughout the 70s & 80s, it was with the abolition of quota system in January, 2005 and the imposition of a 10% cap on Chinese textile exports till 2008, that the industry in Tirupur made some giant leaps. During this time, Indian textile exports to U.S.A leaped up by 26 per cent and those to European countries increased by 18 per cent. Since Tirupur accounts for 90% of India’s cotton knitwear exports, the industry here gained the most in the milieu of the post-quota textile boom. Its export earnings shot up from Rs.4726 crores in 2004 to an estimated Rs. 8000 crores in 2006, nearly a 70% growth in two years. The bustling business of knitwear exports crossed Rs.9600 crores between January and December 2006.  The latest knitwear export figures from Tirupur for 2010-11 stands at Rs. 12,500 crores.

Due to the exponential industrial growth, since 1980s the vacancy for man power rose to surplus which became the source of living for people from other areas of Tamilnadu who also faced natural problems in agriculture at their native lands and required a source of income. Now Tirupur also hosts workforce migrated from other areas of the country too.

As people in India has their life and work culture in a mix, people at Tirupur has the same.

The growth of the industries in Tirupur has also faced many problems in its journey in terms of industrial organization, city infrastructure, natural raw material sources, workforce organization, pollution, etc., and the industry has taken efforts at times to solve the problems. Still the industrial association and government are working to solve existing problems to make Tirupur a much better place to flourish. With these problems getting solved, Tirupur is awaiting its next giant leap soon.

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