Cluster development projects - a shot in a print firm’s arm

We need many more clusters like the ones in Karnal (Haryana); Kannur (Kerala); Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu); Krishnagiri (Tamil Nadu); as well as the CFCs in Mysore (Karnataka) and Pilakhua (Uttar Pradesh)

29 Sep 2015 | By Kamal Chopra

What is a cluster development programme (CDP) – and what is the need for it? 
First, let us understand what cluster means. One sees that the Indian industry is being developed at micro/small scale and due to the limitation of resources it is becoming difficult to survive in the era of global competitiveness.
The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Government of India (GoI) has adopted the cluster development approach as a strategy for enhancing the productivity and competitiveness. And capacity building of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and their collectives in the country. Clustering of units also enables providers of services to them, including banks and credit agencies, to provide their services more economically, thus reducing costs and improving the availability of services for these enterprises. 
Is it necessary that all the factories be set up in one or adjoining premises. 
No. These days the main concept is to form a CFC (common facilities centre). The CFC establishes an special purpose vehicle (SPV) after analysing the problems of the cluster so that each and every printer may benefit from the facilities available.
Why is cluster development important to the print sector?
Cluster development is important for every sector, especially the manufacturing sector, so that it remains competitive. And to remain competitive, we have to increase production, decrease the unwanted expenditures and reduce the capital cost. In the printing sector, this is more important because of the high cost of capital goods (machinery and equipment).
Perhaps it is not only the high cost of the latest machinery, but also the optimum production. One can install the latest machinery with the help of bankers, but it may not be possible for the optimum use because of less number of orders in hand. In case, such a machine is established at the CFC, production can be optimised to meet increased demand, making the produce competitive. Under the scheme, the GOI will contribute up to 90% of the cost of the machinery to be installed. Even if 10% is shared equally by 20 members of the SPV, installing a high-end machinery at the CFC becomes a possibility. There will be a decrease in production cost, making it competitive even in the international arena.
Which is the industry that has best adopted the cluster development programme, which print should follow?
There are many clusters working in India, but the best is the textile cluster at Tirupur. With the help of the CFC, the Tirupur textile has taken over almost all the cotton textile/undergarment market. For me, Tirupur is the best example of a cluster development programme. There are many printing clusters too working in South India but in North, the cluster development programme is not getting proper following. A lack in faith on each other could be one reason.
How many print clusters have been set up?
Many print clusters are approved but we will talk about those clusters where CFC is established, completed or ongoing. To my knowledge, CFC is ongoing in four print clusters. These are: Printing & Packaging Cluster, Karnal (Haryana); Offset Printers Cluster, Kannur (Kerala); Printing Cluster, Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu); Printing Cluster, Krishnagiri (Tamil Nadu). CFCs for two clusters – Packaging Cluster, Mysore (Karnataka) and Textile Printing Cluster at Pilakhua (Uttar Pradesh), have been approved in principle.
Some highlight in the past quarter?
The cluster programme is picking up slowly recently proposal for the CFC at the Printing Cluster, Chamarajpet, Bengaluru, (Karnataka) is approved in principle by the Government of India, Ministry of MSME
What is the low side of the programme?
For the cluster, the minimum requirement is an SPV, which means a group of at least 20 entrepreneurs registered with MSME with EM Part 2. Fulfillng this requirement, I feel, could be a difficulty, at least in the northern region. The difficulty will be in getting 20 like-minded people with faith in each other, and perhaps, the reason, why cluster programme in the region is not picking up.
Will a print cluster be able to brand print?
With the cluster development, it is possible to produce not only better but the best, and at a low cost, which is the need of the hour. Given the developments in China, India is being touted as the next factory in the world. High-end production-oriented machinery will need to be established to cope with the increasing demands. Printing clusters are the best and only answer to be competitive and able to produce more at economical rates.
Members of Karnal cluster project in Haryana
Kamal Chopra has been part of two clusters: the  Printing and Packaging Cluster at Ludhiana, diagnostic study report (DSR) for which has been approved and now soft intervention is in process. He is also involved with the Printing and Packaging Cluster, Karnal.