How Vashi’s Small Scale Industries Compete Globally Using IT

by September 15, 2015 0 comments

We interacted with R.K. Jain, Chairman-IMC, Vashi and Ganeshan Pillai-Joint Director, IMC to understand IT usage by Vashi’s small scale industries and what further needs to be done to make them competitive


Vashi, one of the oldest and most populated industrial nodes in Navi Mumbai, is home to many industries, traders, and even IT companies. The city is also home to APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee), the biggest wholesale agriculture produce market in Asia. Such a large industrial hub is bound to have its own set of challenges, be it related to infrastructure, power, or even IT.

We spoke to R.K. Jain, chairman of Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC)-Vashi to understand challenges faced by local businesses in Vashi, their IT usage and awareness levels, and how they’re competing globally by using IT. The interaction was done at the HP BusinessNow Express Solutions tour (read previous article to know more).

Having spent 32 years in Vashi, Jain has seen it grow from a small village to a burgeoning industrial township that it is today. In fact, Jain is also the Managing Director of Sara- Chem (India) Pvt Ltd, a company that manufactures and supplies aerosol equipment, and even sets up aerosol units on a turnkey basis. Being a businessman and head of IMC’s Vashi chapter, he understands the key issues they face. IMC itself was setup in Mumbai 107 years ago during the British raj by a few Parsi traders to fight the autocratic style of Britishers. They setup the HO, an iconic building on Church Gate in Mumbai, for about Rs. 2.5 Lakhs-a significant amount during those days!

RK Jain

“Current IT usage by Vashi’s small scale industries is mostly sufficient to compete globally. A key enabler of this is decent Internet connectivity for fast communication.”

–R.K.Jain, Chairman-IMC, Vashi Chapter


“We represent the trading community, industries, IT, as well as professionals, and even have a separate senior citizens wing in Navi Mumbai, who’re all retired executives from govt. organizations like railways, steel authority, as well as executives from private enterprises. They’re treated as a bank of talent”, said Jain. “Our main job is to look after the interest of the traders’ community. Whether it’s to do with power and electricity, infrastructure, or any other issues in running the business, we take it up with the relevant authorities”, added Jain.

“We have members from all segments, be it spices/pulses, engineering, IT, etc. There are 10-12 associations here in Vashi, be it APMC, Thane Belapur Industries Association, or the Millenium Business Park in Mahape, we represent all of them”, said Ganeshan Pillai, Joint Director-IMC or Vashi.

IT Awareness Amongst Vashi’s SMEs
According to Jain, since everything’s done online today–govt. payments, filing tenders, or day to day communication, everybody has to be IT savvy. “APMC for instance, comprises of exporters and importers, so they have to use the Internet, email, and the communication has to be fast”, he added. “More interestingly, they deal with Europe or US, so the time difference forces them to use IT”, said Jain.


“Even small traders have their own websites and register on various trading sites to get response.”

— Ganeshan Pillai, Joint Director-IMC, Vashi


IT Doesn’t Stop at Email and Internet

Considering that basic IT is essential for all small businesses, we were curious to know whether it ends there for Vashi’s businesses, or was there more to it. To this, Jain said that even a small shopkeeper today maintains accounts on Tally. However, “higher uses of IT, like tele-conferencing, has not yet come down to small scale industries, as they can’t afford that kind of facility”, he added. To this, Pillai further added that the small traders also have their own websites and register on trading sites like Indiamart to get response.

Competing globally with IT
According to Jain, current IT usage by Vashi’s small scale industries is mostly sufficient to compete globally. A key enabler of this is decent Internet connectivity for fast communication. “This unfortunately is not the case in smaller places, due to which local SMEs there are not as efficient”, he added.  He further gave China’s example as to how in most places there, the Internet is free, most towns are Wi-Fi connected and provide high speed connectivity 24×7. Though India pioneered IT services, he said, when it comes to applying IT in day to day business, household work, etc. China leads. “All this unfortunately is not there in our country, and mobile and laptop are the only gadgets” he added.

Tackling Competition from China
China is known as the world’s manufacturing hub, but how does it impact Vashi’s manufacturers? To this, Jain was of the view that there’s no match for China’s level of setup. “When they setup any unit, they decide which countries they will export to, before even setting it up. In India, the thinking is different—it’s all local. That makes the level difference, and either makes you competitive or non-competitive”, he added. Moreover, the Chinese govt. supports them by providing a superior infrastructure like dedicated highways from industrial areas to ports, duty-free raw material imports, cheap power and land. “It doesn’t therefore take them a week to export goods, but just a few hours”, he said.

But things are gradually changing, according to Jain, as the labor in China is becoming expensive. The old generation has retired and the newer generation is not willing to work at same wages. “Here, India can play a big role as labor is cheap. If our govt. provides cheaper land, power, gives some incentives, I think we can very well compete on hardware”, he added.

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