Joining hands for a common cause

Dev Nair and KS Khurana, the presidents of All India Federation of Master Printers and Indian Printing and Allied Manufacturers Association, respectively, met a day after the PrintWeek India Awards at the Grand Hyatt, to discuss the roadmap for cooperation between Indian printers and manufacturers.

15 Oct 2014 | By Noel D'Cunha

A Noel D’Cunha special interview

Noel D’cunha (ND): What is transpiring in the individual associations, AIFMP and IPAMA, and the interaction between the two?
K S Khurana (KSK): I congratulate the new president of the AIFMP. For the past four years, AIFMP and IPAMA have been supporting each other through exhibitions and trade shows and we are looking forward to a similar association with the new committee.
Dev Nair (DN): My fundamental commitment is to better the industry. For  this purpose, the parent associations, AIFMP and IPAMA, should work in conjunction with each other. 
ND: Will we see such a consolidation this year?
DN: Now, since I am at the helm of the operations, I would love to have the associations work together towards the betterment of the industry. This also includes engagement with associations which are allied to the print industry, say, for instance, the ink association. The idea is to depute two or three members from each association and form a pro-active committee. This would mean, to begin with, that common grievances are addressed among the associations, even before approaching the authorities.
ND: Mr Nair, you have drafted a visionary statement. What is next?
DN: Unlike the IPAMA presidentship, we have only 12 months to execute our vision. How many of these would be realised I wouldn’t know, but some things are of utmost importance to me and these will be executed. One is regarding the unsatisfactory attitude of the government towards our industry. They have not recognised us as an industry. This, I believe, has got to be taken up with the government. We have a separate committee for this purpose and I will be very glad if some members of IPAMA can join hands with us. We have V K Jain and Harshdeep Malhotra who have been doing good work and representing the industry as a whole, not merely as an association.
ND: Mr Khurana, last week you had a meeting with the PM. What is the status on that?
KSK: The prime minister has given a very important and impressive message of ‘Make in India’. Today, like in the olden days, the printers can help us with this. They can help show us the technology that has been imported and we can make it here in India. Further, my appeal to the international manufacturers during a global meet in London was to give us the mandate to produce one of their popular machines in India. They have discontinued to manufacture it in UK.
And this is where the Federation can help us since they are the buyers of Heidelbergs and Polars and share a good rapport with these manufacturers. They can request these manufacturers is to establish a service centre in the metropolitan cities of India, thus, saving the cost which is incurred as import duty.
ND: Mr Nair, you have also mentioned about training and trained personnel in your vision statement? How can IPAMA and AIFMP work together on this front?
DN: Currently, we have invested in a space in Bengaluru to set up a training centre and the project plan is being readied. But we need help from IPAMA as machines need to be installed at the training centre.
KSK: IPAMA has a training facility and some vocational courses in Noida. We are ready to offer the space and the infrastructure facility to AIFMP for training purposes. We can have training centres in various cities to facilitate the printer geographically.
ND: Mr Khurana, for the last two years you have been hosting business delegations where international print delegates visit Indian manufacturers and understand the Indian print market...
KSK: We showcase the available Indian technology to these delegates, who are printers from Middle East or Asian countries. After China, India is considered a favoured destination for equipment production. However, we have a long way to go to improve our technological offering.
DN: In that case, a good plan would be to approach the international manufacturers to collaborate with Indian manufacturers.
KSK: We have already proposed that international players to set up their units in India and also showed the readiness to take over their sick units. This is for both, the western countries and the Chinese manufacturers.
ND: Collaborations are already taking shape with 25 major manufactures joining hands with international players ...
DN: ... But this is not the case with presses. Today, Heidelberg is manufacturing in China.
ND: That is because in China, Heidelberg sells over 2,000 units in a year. India is not that huge a market for them.
KSK: In China, a Heidelberg is preferred over the Chinese-make. Our urge to printers is to buy good quality machines. We are not binding them by restrictions to buy the machines but the problem arises when some machines are genuinely very old. This is harmful for the printer. The message to be conveyed is simple – bring new technology. There have been instances when a printer, who has taken a large loan to buy used machinery, cannot begin operations since his equipment is not fully assembled and he incurs heavy losses.
 A Pragati or a Thomson can produce quality only because they invest in the latest technology. We need a strong network within the industry.
ND: There are many voices regarding the import of machines. What is the exact position of both IPAMA and the Federation?
DN: The statement has been misunderstood by an association in Punjab. The proposed ban on import of ten-year or older machine is for similar machines manufactured in India. From my understanding, the statement questioned the import of machine even when good quality machines are manufactured here. The statement could have included – manufactured in India and not manufactured in India – this would have clarified the matter. Be that as it may, this kind of misunderstanding should not come up between these two prime associations.
KSK: We made that statement as a part of the routine statement during the budget. It was only a statement and is not yet been applied. 
We have been approaching the print firms to look beyond and target industries like the hotel and travel industries, which use print to a large extent. We want to create awareness among the printers about the alternate avenues in print.
ND: There are many other areas where the joint forces of the two associations would be a step forward. Can you elaborate on those?
DN: I have a dream to set up a buyer-seller forum. This means that a collective purchase from both the Indian and the international manufacturers will give the printers a good price. A registered printer can ask for an estimate of his purchase and get the best price possible.
KSK: The government is pushing for creation of clusters in each city. Instead, we can collectively approach the government to give us a built factory on lease with all the services, from power to water, made available there. A printer who operates out of a rented premise is sure to benefit from such a set up. I think, instead of granting subsidies or attempting to create just clusters, this is a better model. If we come together and raise a voice we will get the result.
ND: Is there a timeline to all these?
KSK: We have initiated the discussion only now . It is is imperative that we return to our committees and ponder on the points and then take it further. But, maybe by PrintPack 2015, we can announce the commencement of these initiatives.
ND: How optimistic are you about the industry and which way is the industry heading?
DN: Subject to my discussions with the president of IPAMA, if the two associations join hands, there is a huge growth potential for the industry. The key is to complement each other.  The printers have to look at investing in complementary machines, like post-press and finishing to unshackle the stagnation. I am bullish about the industry.
KSK: The same is for the manufacturer. The key is to invent and bring to your buyers what they want. I would urge the manufacturers to develop machines which are not available in India and create a demand for it, rather than produce the same ones and then face the difficulty to selling them.
I know of 50 manufacturers who have not collaborated with any entity, but have travelled and understood the available technology in other parts of the world, and then made the necessary upgrades to their equipment. 

About PrintPack India 2015

We have roped in international participants. We are looking at an additional space of 2,000-3,000 sq/mtrs to the existing 14,000-15,000. We now want to reach out to the visitors through roadshows.
The show is a learning experience and a workshop in itself.
It might not be possible to invest on-the-spot but the range and the quality of options available at the show will help the printers to chart their present and future investments. The exhibitors at the show are from across the segments, thus helping the visitors to choose their line of operations. Most of the times, the printers have these equipment housed in their units but the idea is to look at the scale, invest in the additional equipment and offer a broader range of service.
(The above interview was transcribed and copy edited by Tanvi Parekh)