|Sick of MNC culture, a textile engineer returns to his roots to help the people|
| By Kavita Kanan Chandra
Mumbai02 Oct 2010
G Thakuria lost a decade in his life. He will not tell you what he was up to and it is anybody’s guess, given the fact that he is in Assam’s Chhaygaon, which was once a hotbed of insurgency. But today, Thakuria has found his calling – at the Fabric Plus factory. Chhaygaon, 70 km away from Guwahati, has transformed over the years with the Assam Government developing it as an industrial growth centre.
Fabric Plus, on its part, has touched the lives of many like Thakuria. Founded by Dilip Barooah, who was the first to cash in on the changing scenario, the industrial unit is a symbol of the new emerging industrial Assam.
Hailing from the non-descript town of Margarita at the tip of Assam, bordering Myanmar and Arunachal, Barooah studied textile technology in Guwahati. He joined a textile mills in Mumbai as a manager in the early eighties. He rose to the level of General Manager and became the highest paid technician in the metropolis. Later, he shifted to Germany and South Africa, enjoyed the high life, what with a six-figure monthly salary, a bungalow with swimming pool and a BMW to boot.
One day he chucked them all, even leaving behind the wealth he earned due to some legal tangle and was back in Mumbai. However he had 27 years of textile experience, contacts and lot of goodwill. “I was back to square one. From driving BMW to riding Bus Number 11,” says Barooah philosophically. But there was a burning desire to establish a company that deals with weaving and exporting of pure silk products made of exquisite Eri, Muga and Mulberry/Pat silk exclusive to the Northeast.
It was a passion for Assam silk, the immense potential it had offshore by value addition and innovation that has seen Fabric Plus catering to fashion giants like Armani, Hugo Boss, Just Cavalli, Chopard and Moschino among other brands.
Barooah started from scratch in 2003 in a 100 sq ft garage space with three members and almost zero investment. They started with R & D and sampling of pure silk product and soon became a registered silk exporting company. Within a year their turnover was Rs 14 lakh and there has been no turning back since then. The projected turnover in 2010 is Rs 700 lakh, almost double of the previous year’s.
As a social entrepreneur for Chhaygaon, Barooah has helped the region’s growth. The Eri silk spinning mill alone has impacted the lives of 350 spinners and weavers and benefitted 4500 people engaged in silk/cocoon rearing and marketing. “Just two years ago there was absolutely nothing in this region, no source of income for the educated youths but with the Fabric Plus project an industrial atmosphere is building up,” says Trailokya Burman, a team member at Fabric Plus.
Burman echoes Barooah’s dislike for titles and designations that stem from the exploitation and everyday human rights violation he saw in the Mumbai mills as a young manager. “We are all part of a family, everyone cooperates and there is no designation whatsoever,” says G Thakuria. Adds Barooah: “The workers were paid peanuts, worked in unhygienic conditions, forced to do overtime and when I was the general manager my work was not to run the textile mill but find ways to retrench labour.” This pained him and he vowed to treat his workers as team members with due respect and dignity. He practises what he preaches and his visiting card is sans any designation. He feels a sense of déjà vu reading Robin Sharma’s international best seller ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’ for it echoes his thoughts in many ways.
“Once the people who feared bombs now see their women folk cycling to work, changing their lifestyle and heralding betterment in economy, health and work ethics,” says Barooah. Apart from Chhaygaon, Fabric Plus also has factories at Amingaon (Assam), Dhatrigram (West Bengal) and a unit for hand spinning of Eri silk yarns at Mirza (Assam).
Category News about us
There is news of apparel exporters being denied export credit facilities by the credit insurance companies and this is happening at a time when clothing shipments from India are in a negative trend. This is leading to a panic among textile and clothing exporters who would not like to take the risk of exporting without adequate risk cover.
To get to the depth of this development Fibre2fashion spoke to the various stake holders within the sector. We began by speaking to Mr Dilip Barua, Director of the Assam based Fabric Plus Pvt Ltd and a exporter of silk stoles. Fabric Plus recently set up the first of its kind eri-silk spinning plant in Assam. Mr Barua said, “Pre-risk of export without insurance cover can not be ignored. There are many exporters operating without letter of credit and they depend on credit insurance as a protection”.
“These exporters feel insecure when exporting goods without insurance and avoid exporting rather than losing money incase of defaults, which ultimately leads to problems for all the suppliers in the supply chain and also can lead to joblessness as the manufacturer may choose to close operations”, he said.
He concluded by saying that, “One will agree that the scheme of credit insurance should not be abused; but at the same time insurance agencies cannot put a brake. Rather they should judiciously treat the cases and allow the genuine deals so that a potential industry like garments export can play its role in development of the industrial sector and earn foreign exchange for the country”.
Economic Times published a news regarding Fabric Plus’s new manufacturing unit launch and achievements. Following is the news :
” Entrepreneurs from Northeast India have started making their presence felt in the international markets. Silk products from the region have started getting attention on the world stage.
Assam based Fabric Plus Ltd which also has units in West Bengal is exporting designer fabrics for fashion
and home fashion, including made-ups like stoles, ties, curtain panels cushions, corporate gifts to European and US market. The company is using natural silks and silk-mixed with natural fibers like linen, wool, cotton for making these products.
The company already has three units and is setting up the fourth one in Chhaygaon near Guwahati. The unit will be inaugurated by union minister of textiles, Dayanadhi Maran on August 19.
The company is investing around Rs 5.50 Crore in setting up a fully integrated project to manufacture spun silk yarns, dyed yarns, weaving (Both Handloom and Shuttle less) and fabric processing at Chhaygaon Industrial Growth Centre. The company is promoting golden Muga, Eri and Pat silk.
Dilip Barooah, managing director of the company told ET, We are producing around 50,000 liner meters of fabric annually. Once the fourth unit is commissioned, our annual production will be 1, 20,000 liner meter fabric. In addition we will have 90,000 metric tones of yarn, 60,000 of which will be eri and muga and rest will be blend like silk and bamboo and others,
Mr Barooah added, The turnover of the company is around Rs 4 Crore annually and the unit gets commissioned it will increase to 14 Crores. Around 70 percent of the products are exported to European market and 30 percent to USA. There is huge demand; we are not able to meet the demand.
He further said in setting up the fourth unit company is getting financial support from Silk board, government of Assam and North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi).”
Source: Economic Times
The Assam Tribune published the following news about us today :
” A mega silk yarn manufacturing unit promoted by a group of leading entrepreneurs of the State will be inaugurated on August 19.
The project, being set up at the Chaygaon Industrial Estate with an investment of Rs 5.50 crore, will manufacture 60 MT of endi, muga and other span silk yarns per annum.
The project has been set up in association with the Central Silk Board, NEDFi and the State Sericulture Department, which will generate employment nearly 900.
Providing feedback on the new project, Dilip Barooah, one of the promoters, said that endi and muga products of the State enjoy a special place in the global textile market for which the unit has been set up. “We have tied up with leading designers to make our products more attractive,” he added.
Barooah, who has been closely associated with the export market for a long time, observed that the local artisans would be immensely benefited from the project.
The promoters have incorporated new technology with the project so that it can produce other yarns in case of any shortage of endi and muga in future.
Asked about the endi and muga market in the backdrop of global economic meltdown, Barooah termed the problem as a temporary one. “Our endi and muga products are still insulated from the crisis. So considering the situation, we will be able to attract international buyers,” he said.
The North East contributes nearly six per cent of the total silk production of the country. According to an estimate of the Central Silk Board, nearly 3,08,806 families of the North East are dependent on the silk sector. Currently, 55,719 hectares of land in the region are being used for rearing silkworms.
Union Minister of Textiles Dayanidhi Maran will formally inaugurate the unit. ”
Source: Assam Tribune