History of Tiruppur

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The development of Tiruppur, one has heard so much of knit wear boom in the press over the past few years. However, none of the explanations in the press have been able to explain why and how this little town in Tamil Nadu has come to be the centre of India's local banian and export cotton knitwear industry. The industry works through a web of small to mid-sized units, with fabrication here, processing elsewhere and stitching somewhere else. These networks of firms operate through jobworking, contracting and sourcing arrangements. The business families set up "sister concern" rather than large fully integrated factories. Despite of some of its difficulties, the business culture in Tiruppur is appreciating.

The historical research on Tirupur leads us back to the "thottams" or well irrigated farms around the town, as most of the industrialists of today have come from modest agricultural backgrounds. Though countless interviews about their lives and work, it has been realised that it was these modest farmers who have innovated in the organisation of the industry. There are many ways in which these ex-farmers came to the industry, worked in knitware firms and got to know the production close at hand and entered as small owners, often in family partnerships. As the industry grew from the old interlock banians to fine banians with an all-India market in the 1970s, the first generation of ex-farmer industrialists created "sister" units, often managed by their relatives, expanding the industries in dispersed units throughout the city. The uniqueness of Tirupur's work culture has made it difficult for the big Indian textile giants to enter and capture a large market share, as the rules and norms governing manufacturing and jobworking are often informal and personalised.



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