Rubber consumption set to cross 1 mt as industry patriarch turns 100

Written by fe Bureau | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: May 8 2012, 06:16am hrs
For the first time in the history of commercial crops, the natural rubber (NR) consumption in India is projected to overshoot the one million tonne mark. This milestone has come about just when the rubber industry patriarch KM Philip is turning hundred.

Rubber Board of India, in its latest projections, has pegged the consumption figure for the current financial year at 1.06 million tonne. During 2011-12, the NR consumption stood at 9.6 million tonne. As early as in the 1970s, KM Philip, better known as the rubber man of India, had predicted that the consumption would touch 1 million tonne.

What better tribute to a rubber industry wizard as he turns 100 than Indian rubber consumption crossing the figure of one million tonne, said Sheela Thomas, chairman, Rubber Board.

Speaking at an event organised by the All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) to celebrate Philips 100th birthday, the patriarch of rubber Industry in India recalled that businessmen had termed his predictions unrealistic at that time. When I made the prediction that we would be consuming a million tonne of rubber, most pundits thought these were the rumblings of a person out of touch with reality. Yet here we are, and what is to come will be even more spectacular, he said.

In 1949, it was stated that the Indian rubber industry had come of age as the consumption reached 1,000 tonne. Speaking about the journey of rubber industry in India, Philip recalled that he was fortunate to witness the dramatic growth of the India rubber industry in his lifetime. From a situation where there were a few multinational firms, the start of the Indian manufacturing sector was beset with difficulties no raw material, no technology, and little capital. From a little more than a few sheds, the Indian rubber industry today produces all varieties of rubber goods, using the most sophisticated technologies, he said.

Collaboration between rubber planters and industry is a critical need of the hour. The country has an abundant pool of scientists and engineers and should take advantage of the same for development of rubber industry, added Philip.

Some of the ways in which international business world has honoured the rubber man include making him a Fellow of the Royal Chartered Institute of Materials, UK, a recipient of the Padmashri Award from the President of India and the coveted Hancock Medal from the Plastics and Rubber Institute, UK. Philip has received wide acclaim for making MRF one of the leading tyre manufacturers in India and, above all, as the World President of YMCA. His book The Evolution of Indian Rubber Industry is considered as the most authoritative book on Indias rubber Industry.

AIRIA was co-founded by Philip in 1945 as an organisation to lead the development of Indias rubber industry. Currently, the countrys rubber industry has a turnover of R50,000 crore. AIRIA president Vinod Simon said, As the co-founder of AIRIA, founder editor of Rubber India, the official publication of AIRIA, and as chairman of the Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association, Philip has made a sterling contribution towards the industrys growth.