Despondency is in abundance among cribber columnists like me. But sometimes one does comes across a few good things. And for a change I think there is no harm in sharing the good feelings. It seems we are forgetting our age old traditions to share happiness and not grief and frustration.
One redeeming feature was a visit to Nishat Mills textile complex on the Ferozepur Road along with my German friends – Mr. Thomas Waldmann Managing Director of German Textile Machinery Association and Mr. Eugen Egetenmeir Deputy Managing Director of Messe Munchen Gmbh. Talking to young and energetic textile engineers and workers at the plant gave me the feeling that given an opportunity our people can meet the challenges of globalization. The Germans were also equally impressed not by the state-of-the-art machinery, but more by the quality of human resource.
Nishat Dyeing & Finishing Mills’ young Deputy General Manager Adil Ghani told me that the company employs fresh matriculate workers only and trains them for a few months. “In about three to six months they catch up to work on these most modern machines and get the promotion to the level of skilled workers and in two to three years they go up as supervisors making around 12000 to 14000 rupees.”
Ghani says that although most of the workers are from small towns or villages and have studied in government schools; their uptake is quick which shows their good IQ level.” Isn’t it good to hear that our workforce has the capacity to show their mettle if proper training and opportunity is given to them. There is lot of talk about unemployment in the country and training the workforce, but there is little progress on spreading a network of technical institutes. In this regard we have to accept that religious parties have proved themselves more efficient than our successive governments. They have an ever-growing network of seminaries around the country producing professional clerics. Can you believe it we have over 10000 seminaries and not even 500 technical schools and colleges!! It does explain why the fundamentalism and unemployment are in competition with each other.
Adil’s colleague Saeed Nawaz Khan is running the company’s weaving unit at the mill. He was proud to show us that each of the airjet Toyoda looms was running at maximum efficiency – of over 1250 rpm. This impressed Waldmann, who knows much about such machines. Unlike Adil, who is a graduate in textile engineering from UK, Saeed has a degree from the Faisalabad Textile University. He joined the company as supervisor and in about 10 years rose to the level of General Manager of the plant. Most of the technical people were from the same university. Textile industrialists feel that they need more technical colleges and universities to meet the future demand and APTMA is willing to take this initiative.
And now, the down side. The textile industry leaders, we met last week complained that their exports are going down because of tough competition from China, Bangladesh and India. It was the same old story that their competitors’ governments have been actively supporting their respective industries through subsidies and incentives, while our policy makers are slow to react.
Economic managers are of the view that they have given subsidies they could afford and the next mile should be walked alone by the textile industry, by graduating to exports of value added products. Bangladesh, India and China are making money because they have moved up from low value addition products like yarn and grey cloth to garments. Without challenging this point of view, APTMA Punjab Chairman, Samir Saigol says everybody has a niche and we should not give away the field “we do best.”
The German guests who came to Pakistan to promote the world’s largest textile machinery trade fair ITMA, stressed, that to be competitive the industry should keep up with the new technologies and innovations. They pointed out that the upcoming ITMA in 2007 will showcase many innovative technologies and processes.
The good thing is that our textile sector seems to be alive to the situation. They are yearning and lobbying intensively for subsides from the government for creating to what they define an even playing field with their competition. But at the same time most of the forward looking industrialists are preparing for the sharpening competition. KCCI’s new President Majyd Aziz summed it up well at a party when he told the visiting ITMA team that going to this fair “is mandatory and not optional, if we want to do the business and keep up with the latest developments.”
Tailpiece: Before closing I must acknowledge a mail from my reader Ambassador Toheed Ahmad, He has pointed out that in my last diary I had said that all governments were removed unconstitutionally in the last 15 years, while the fact is that all were removed constitutionally under article 58 (2-B). I think legally my dear reader is correct but politically we all know how all these removals were engineered and who adulterated the constitution’s true spirit. (firstname.lastname@example.org)