Even though Indian scientists in premier institutions and national laboratories have patents that have been licensed by global giants, in the case of non-wovens and technical textiles, India lags far behind the developed economies in terms of original inventions and commercialisation of ideas. Seshadri Ramkumar, Associate Professor, Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University, one of the scientists who have been trying to create awareness in India on the need for improvement in specialised research-oriented education in non-wovens and technical textiles, shares his views with EducationPlus. “Higher education in this sector has to be boosted significantly in India,” says Dr. Ramkumar. In the case of the West, in the textiles field, non-wovens and technical textiles sector is growing and is a knowledge-based sector, which means universities such as North Carolina State and Texas Tech and companies such as Kimberly Clark and Procter & Gamble are all aggressive in creating IPs and filing patents, he says. The survival for these industries in the West depends on their being innovative. India is terribly lagging behind in this field, says Dr. Ramkumar

Non-wovens and technical textiles sector is at a nascent stage in India. Production of non-woven fabrics is around 1,00,000 metric tones in India. Non-wovens and technical textiles are taught as theoretical subjects. In order for the students, who are next generation scientists in this burgeoning field to be successful, there needs to be resources that will provide hands-on experience and more practical knowledge, he says. First and foremost, apart from technology awareness, marketing awareness in this sector has to be created. Currently, existing academic departments such as the Department of Textile Technology at Anna University, Chennai, should have proactive approaches with the garment and apparel sectors and help them realise the need to diversify, says Dr. Ramkumar.