More R&D is required to enable India to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) conforming to international standards. This will create more opportunities for India to become a global PPE exporter and to revive the pandemic-hit economy while keeping health workers safe, according to Harjiv Singh, board member, GlobalPPEMart.
GlobalPPEMart.com is a technology and marketing B2B platform connecting manufacturers and buyers of PPE globally. It is the first global online marketplace to address the shortage of Covid-19 gear across the world during the ongoing pandemic.
When the pandemic struck the world, there was a hike in the requirement of PPE as more and more countries experienced a massive shortage in personal protective gears. Even in India, the rapid spread of the virus created a temporary shortage of PPE. However, within three months, India became the second largest manufacturer in N-95 masks and PPE production.
“Though the ministry of textile has taken care of the quality of PPE that is manufactured in India, Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO)’s concept of developing low-cost and high-volume PPE at a large scale, helped India to cope with the increasing demand. But there shouldn’t be compromises in the quality of PPE as it is hazardous for the frontline health workers. That’s why R&D accelerates innovation, and India requires innovation and development in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and even engineering. Through tapping into R&D, India can create a benchmark for the world, especially by boosting research in the textile industry and manufacturing PPE,” Singh added.
Singh further added, “Since the start of the pandemic, several countries, which initially relied extensively on Chinese and Asian manufactured PPE, began to boost indigenous PPE production. Therefore, Indian PPE manufacturers must focus on quality to effectively compete in these global markets and produce PPE worth global standards at competitive prices. Increased public spending on R&D will play a crucial role.”
India already has a strong R&D infrastructure in place, which helped build PPE ecosystem from scratch in 2020. There are facilities like the South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) in Coimbatore, the Defence Research and Development Organisation in New Delhi and Ordnance Factories in Ambernath, Kanpur and Muradnagar which conduct testing programmes on indigenous PPE. This has helped accelerate domestic supply, eventually enabling India to begin exporting within just four months.
“The Government of India’s push for R&D and the establishment of mega textile parks, in addition to the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, in the recent Union Budget, is also a welcome sign. These initiatives will provide a strong impetus to the PPE industry and help India manufacture equipment of international standards. Now, we need a robust implementation plan to consolidate the fragmented PPE industry and bring price transparency,” Singh concluded.