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The Ahmedabad Textile Industry Centenary Exhibition (1961)

To celebrate the completion of the first hundred years of the Ahmedabad cotton textile industry, an industrial exhibition, titled “Ahmedabad Textile Industry Centenary Exhibition” was organized in April 1961 by AMOA. The exhibition, the first of its kind in Gujarat state, gave an opportunity to all connected with the mill industry as well as other industries and trade to showcase their products. The exhibition was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on the evening of Tuesday, April 4th, 1961.

Excerpts from Speech of Mr. Jaykrishna Harivallabhdas, president of the Ahmedabad Millowners’ Association at the Inauguration of Centenary Exhibition

“This centenary is a tribute to many pioneers who toiled to make this occasion possible…. The industry in the nineteenth century was purely a spinning industry but later transformed itself into composite units with up-to-date manufacturing and processing divisions. Today we can manufacture dyed, mercerized, printed and fully shrunk fabrics and we can state with satisfaction that in point of equipment and production of cloth several mills in Ahmedabad do compare favourably with any of the best cotton mills in the world.

“…Lancashire imports used to play a very important part in meeting the consumer needs of the country… It was fortunate that the Tariff Commissions appointed from time to time to protect this industry were alive to the need for the growth of the industry in India and we established ourselves in these qualities as equal to any other advanced countries … instead of remaining an importing country of cotton textiles India is now today exporting substantial quantities of cloth since the outbreak of the Second World War.

“… Ahmedabad… has been in agreement with the Government that the progress of the handlooms should be looked after because it provides employment and gives scope for diversity in production. But I will be failing in my duty if I do not point out that the powerloom’s share in production has been surreptitiously increasing and the subsidy and the protection given to the handlooms are really benefiting the powerloom manufacturers.

“…the Indian textile industry has an export potential and our country counts on this. We have to face competition with nations who are adopting more advanced techniques and therefore we must renovate on the most modern lines. Time and again, we have made pleas for more automatic looms in replacement but the response so far does not favour rapid progress. In matters of productivity we have still to attain higher standards by adoption of principles of modernization, scientific research, and systematic quality control and other methods. For research, I am glad to state that we have a research institute, the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association, whose activities are growing from day to day.

“… As an industry we have our obligations and we have discharged them with the satisfaction of serving the community. The contribution of the Ahmedabad industrialists to the various cultural and educational activities of Ahmedabad and Gujarat have been significant and I feel that the industry has always accepted these responsibilities with grace… My most sincere wish is that your fondest hopes for the Ahmedabad textile industry’s centenary are fulfilled by this exhibition which is to be inaugurated today.”

Excerpts from Prime Minister, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru s Address at the Inauguration Function:

“…A hundred years of the textile industry in Ahmedabad; I begin to think much more not of the hundred years that have passed but what an exhibition might be like a hundred years later, or even fifty years later. …It is an exciting prospect to think of the changes that might come or are likely to come. One thing may well be said that these fifty years are going to bring very important and vital changes in the whole world but more specially regarding the textile industry, and what people wear.

“… Now, undoubtedly, this world is becoming governed more and more by the scientist and his step brother, the technologist, because the world begins to depend more and more on the developments of technology. In fact, a description of modern society in its fullest growth, as perhaps in the United States of America, is that it is a technologically mature society; we are all an immature society technologically; that of course, will come anyhow. (Referring to changes brought about because of the technological changes and scientific discoveries) … Therefore, I say, it is up to you not to wait for something that might happen in some laboratory in America or England or elsewhere but to apply your minds to the possible changes that might come, indeed, to think out those changes yourselves…

“It is good to know what other countries have done because we can learn from them, but the fact of the matter is that the problem has to be viewed definitely in the context of India. … Therefore, the theories which affect people’s minds now, the ideologies which are worth studying and which have great importance, we ignore them at our peril, but we must always remember that there are hundred years to all and while we should profit by their study, we should also be remembering this fact and not accept them for today’s solutions, but only as a background of knowledge from which we can derive our intimate study of the present. … India’s conditions are different from America’s. We cannot apply the same remedies because the disease may different. America, England, etc., are highly developed industrially and technologically, India is not. Our country is in the process of development therefore our problems will be different.

“… Therefore, we have to be a little more wide-awake, and accept nothing as correct today even though it may have been correct a hundred years ago. We have to think in terms of problems of today and indeed I’ll say problems of tomorrow but certainly not of yesterday.

In proposing a vote of thanks, Sheth Kasturbhai Lalbhai said: -

“On behalf of the Ahmedabad Millowners’ Association it is my privilege to express our grateful thanks to those who have assembled here for attending this function and we feel greatly honoured that our beloved Prime Minister should have spared his valuable time to inaugurate the Centenary Exhibition. We all admire him for his brilliant vision, respect him for his integrity and intelligence, adore him for his virtues, and love him because we must. By sitting with him and hearing him today, I hope we all have got the infection of his wisdom and vision.”

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