Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association’s (IMTMA) dedicated team has been tirelessly working for the Indian machine tools industry to attain a reputed global stature. It's important to recognize the unsung heroes behind the scenes whose contributions have been essential for the industry's success. This is a tribute to their invaluable efforts. The second in the series has its focus on Shantanurao Laxmanrao Kirloskar, one of India’s iconic industrialists who established the Kirloskar Group and the township of Kirloskarwadi.
Right from its formation in the year 1946, the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association (IMTMA) has endeavored to strengthen the Indian Machine Tool industry. Several leading visionaries have steered a rather young IMTMA onto the path of modernizing India’s manufacturing industry and achieving self-reliance in machine tools.
Modern Manufacturing India (MMI), in a series of columns, is recognizing the contributions of the eminent industry stalwarts who have played a scientific role in advancing the Machine Tool industry, the Manufacturing industries, and the Association.
An ode to SL Kirloskar
This column is dedicated to Shantanurao Laxmanrao (SL) Kirloskar, one of India’s iconic industrialists who established the Kirloskar Group and the township of Kirloskarwadi. His company, The Mysore Kirloskar Ltd, was one of the earliest machine tool companies in
India to join IMTMA represented through MB Jambhekar who became the President of IMTMA, following the unfortunate demise of Sir Dhunjishaw Bomanji Cooper. His valuable guidance and efforts enabled the Association to be established on sound lines with recognition from the Government of India and the machine tool fraternity.
SL Kirloskar was the President of IMTMA between 1956 and 1963. It was the period when India embarked on its nation-building journey and IMTMA was making its presence felt in industry circles. The Association, still in its formative years, was working with a three-pronged vision – to develop the Indian Machine Tool industry, scale down reliance on imports, and enable India to become one of the top five machine tool-building nations.
He actively worked closely with the Government of India to safeguard and promote the interests of the Indian Machine Tool industry. IMTMA made several representations to the Government of the day for restricting the imports of machine tools for which indigenous capability was available. Additionally, they requested the release of raw materials and import licenses.
Initiation of technical seminars
Kirloskar, along with DS Mulla, represented IMTMA on the Machine Tool Committee appointed by the Government in 1956. As a result of his efforts, the Government continued the policy to restrict imports for which indigenous alternatives were available which helped to stabilize the industry and foster its growth.
The Association launched the first composite brochure with pictures and technical details and specifications of the various types of machine tools manufactured by leading member firms. This was shared extensively with user industries and foreign embassies. The first-of-its-kind Technical Seminar was initiated during Kirloskar’s presidency. Papers on technical subjects pertaining to the Machine Tool industry were read and discussed.
Interestingly, it was during Kirloskar’s tenure that the seeds for setting up training centers for imparting skill sets to workers of the Machine Tool industry were sown. IMTMA, keeping in view the paramount interests of the country, involved itself in setting up training facilities on the lines of the one set up at Hindustan Machine Tools. This, in due course, helped in churning out high-skilled professionals, including tool makers for various industries.
A global thinker and an enterprising individual, Kirloskar had a self-belief in India’s potential and worked towards making the industry competitive.
Navigating challenges with ease
The year 1962 is etched in the annals of Indian history. It was the year when the country had to defend itself against China. The war had created an emergency and the Indian Machine Tool industry was called upon to play a significant role. Machine tool builders were directed by the Government to increase production by at least 30 percent at a quick rate. Kirloskar met the then Union Minister for Steel and Heavy Industries, Shri C Subramaniam, and while presenting the contribution of the Association towards the National Defence Fund, enumerated the various intricacies faced by the industry.
It is pertinent to note that both the production and the demand for machine tools recorded substantial increases when Kirloskar helmed IMTMA. Many of the member companies stepped up their production to meet the rapid rise in demand for machine tools which happened due to the increasing emphasis on industrial development. Indian machine tool makers also began exporting to countries like West Germany, New Zealand, the Persian Gulf, Ceylon, Burma, and Malaya. The development work on new and more advanced types of machine tools continued which advanced the nascent Machine Tool industry to greater heights.
A global thinker and an enterprising individual, Kirloskar had a self-belief in India’s potential and worked towards making the industry competitive. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1965 for his contributions to trade and industry. In 2003, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister of India, released a commemorative postage stamp on SL Kirloskar, marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.
IMTMA considers itself extremely fortunate to have been guided by luminaries such as SL Kirloskar in its growth path.
Much of the information taken from IMTMA Annual Reports, 1946 – 1963