We recently visited the South Indian town of Tirupur. Some people call it the “Manchester of India,” because it is well known for the numerous manufacturing units in the apparel sector. Over the years, several companies were set up and business flourished. It can be reasonably assumed that approximately 7500 companies exist in and around the town of Tirupur. In fact, it is a city and not a town any more.
During our discussion with the Chairman of the Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA), Mr. Raja Shanmugham, he stated the following, which caught our attention: “Yesterday’s workers are owners of today”.
Mr. Shanmugham says there are several factories owned by old time employees and this is a phenomenon worth emulating. This also proves the freedom one enjoys in the labour climate of the area. It appears that the Association whole heartedly encourages the new startups and helps them in marketing their products.
Another interesting observation made by a reputed industrialist was the social transformation of migrant labourers. There are now large population of migrant labourers, who had shifted to Tirupur, along with their entire family. Seems they are happy here with complete job satisfaction – reportedly facing no discrimination, and obtaining good earnings compared to their native states. Nicer weather and cooperative local people add to their satisfaction. Labourers give priority for their children’s education and slowly the North & South Indian culture gets merged. Labourers these days celebrate both Northern and Southern festivals with the same enthusiasm and vigor.
Migrant labour issues are much debated globally and several efforts are being made to resolve critical problems. Most of them were temporary solutions such as providing housing or special food. Amid such a scenario Tirupur model stands out as a shining example.
Having visited quite a few industries at Tirupur, the current Textile Minister of the central government urged the example of Tirupur to be emulated by other manufacturing clusters in India to spread the message of unity in diversity.