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Printing Presses and Allied Industries -Brief Summary


Before September 1556 the word printing was unknown to India. It was only in the year 1556 when Jesuit brother Juan de Bustamante (1536-1588), who knew the art of printing landed in Goa with a printing press. The art of printing entered India for the first time only then that too through Jesuits.
Following the establishment of the first Printing Press in the year 1556 in Goa, in the year 1670 the first Printing press was brought in Mumbai (then Bombay). This was followed in Tamilnadu sometime in 1714, in Kerala some time in 1800 and within the next few years many Printing Presses were established in many parts of India. Initially all those presses were established by the efforts of Christian missionaries to print Bible in different languages. Other than Bible the presses established in the then named Bombay and Poona printed regional subjects in regional languages. During 1925-28 two Printing Press to print of postal stationery & stamps and Bank Notes were established in the district of Nashik in Maharashtra.
Over the years, the Printing Industry has been rapidly growing in all parts of Globe and so is in India. The Printing industry in India with its allied industries like Packaging, Ink manufacturers, Printing equipments and machineries manufacturers and the manufacturers of raw materials and consumables for Printing put together ranks third in the world in growth and supplies. As per one of the Economic survey reports the Print industry’s’ market was around $25 billion with a growth rate of 12 to 13 % per annum in the year 2011 when data for 2006 was compared. True to the said projection the growth has been around 12 % per annum from the year 1990 when reforms were introduced.
The Printing Industry is one of the biggest and fastest growing sectors in India and is estimated to have over 2,50,000 printing presses in small, medium and large sizes. Some other survey puts the figure as 1,50,000 Printing Presses (Rama Reprographics, Sivakasi) and another as 1,37,280 Presses (India Trade Promotion Organization). Sivakasi alone is reported to have 450- 560 registered Printing establishments as per some of the statistics available from different sources for the year 2011. It is quite possible that many small level unregistered in house units that includes Graphic arts which is almost a household industry in this town may not have been included in the survey that gives lesser figures. Few possible reasons that could be attributed to the conflicting versions are :
-Hand operated treadle machine presses were aplenty decades ago in every nook and corner of the streets catering to small jobs and smaller lot orders like bill books, coupons, tickets, receipt books. They may have been still accounted in spite of the fact that many may have been closed down with the advent of mushrooming Desktop printers and publishers or shifted to new premises or some may have even converted into new units the facts of which the surveys overlooked.
– Many in-house small printing presses with table top equipments may not have registered with the Registrar of shops and establishments and therefore remained un accounted.
-Desktop printers in every nook and corner may have been accounted under presses in some surveys while others may have omitted it.
-Many presses proposed at some places may have obtained registration (Vat and CST Nos) but due to extraneous reasons like finance failed to establish but still remained on Paper as Press. They may have been accounted.
-Large no of Signboard presses are found throughout the country with due registrations operating on commission basis. They may not have Printing machines or equipments of their own and execute the job with others yet delivering consignments in their Press names. By some they may have also been counted as Press.
One of the biggest obstacle in compiling true data on Presses in India have been the absence of a Centralized or even state level agency or Association which can generate the factual data every year after due verification process. This has not been happening and whatever data is arrived at is based on the enlisted members of several of the Associations or Societies and registered with the Registrar of Shops and Establishments in every state. While the registered ones are accountable, the unregistered cannot be accounted. Many signboard units may also be operating as in house unit with small equipments and machineries without registration for Vat and CST. Therefore in order to compile national data on the Presses in India – the established units, both with and without licenses, but omitting the signboard Presses – the facts have to be gathered by some study group through well organized study. Such a exercise will only reveal the true picture on the growth in Printing Industry in India. I wish few Associations from different states join together in this common cause and compile a consolidated data and publish them in the name of Data on ”Printing Presses and Allied industries in India”.
Whatever is the case, it is generally projected in all surveys that the overall growth in Printing Industry since 1990 has been to the extent of 12 to 14% per annum that includes allied industries like Printing Machinery Manufacturers, Packaging industries, Paper manufacturing and Ink manufacturing units. As per one of the Economic survey reports the current annual turnover in Printing Industry has been to the tune of 50,000 crores in Indian rupees. As per another report available, the Capital Investment in this industry is over 83,000 million rupees (Rama Reprographics, Sivakasi) and a third report mentions the figure as 80,000 million (India Trade Promotion Organization) rupees. As per Sivakasi Printing group, the Printing Industry in Sivakasi is worth 1000 crores and employs over 50,000 workers of different cadre. Also Sivakasi stands next to Germany in respect of having largest number of Printing Machines.
The print industry has evolved dramatically in the last few years. Globally Indian Printing Industry has been rated within top ten Countries along with USA, China, Brazil, Mexico etc. Technology is changing every day. Printing Market across the world is looking for more and more exciting print products with faster delivery, and this requirement is met by India and perhaps this is the reason for the high growth of Printing Industry in India in recent times. The volume of Print material in the form of News Papers, Periodicals, Text books and learning material is continuously on the upswing and this cause more and more presses to emerge or expansion taking place in the existing presses in India. This is the case in respect of Security Printers too whose work demand is growing with modernization of plants. The Export* of printed books, Newspapers, Periodicals, printed pictures and other products from printing is 246.64 million US $ equivalent to 112,276/- lakhs in Indian rupees, and during 2011-2012 it was 377.22 million US $ equivalent to 181,351.35 lakhs in Indian rupees ( * Ref: India Export-Import Trade Statistics)
According to one of the surveys conducted it came to light that over 3/4th of the total presses established in India are run by family members and remaining function as Private Limited Presses with share holders. Over 12 lakhs employees of all cadres are employed in all forms of printing industries. In printing industry alone (without allied industries in printing) over 4 million employees are working that includes indirect labours. As per a Sivakasi Printing group, the Printing Industry in Sivakasi employs over 50,000 workers of different cadre. Over the years India has witnessed rapid modernization in Printing industry, particularly after 1990-91 when liberalized reforms were initiated in economy and more and more Privatization in Public sectors commenced for several reasons. The Security Printing industry too fell in privatization mode.
In respect of Packaging industry which is allied to Printing (as the Cartons and Boxes are also printed) the ever growing consumer markets require more and more printed Cartons and boxes. The requirement of printed cartons in Pharmaceutical industry has also tremendously increased. Blister packs contain  security featured prints which is newer phenomenon seen in recent years in the Pharmaceutical industry adds up to the growth of security printing. As per one of the survey results revealed by German machinery manufacturers group, at the end of 2007 the  market share in printing by Printed Packaging industries was around 35 %. There are about 600-700 packaging machinery manufacturers  out of which  95% of   were in the small and medium sector located all over India.
More and more Modern technology, Machineries and Equipments were allowed to be imported and established in the name of reforms and cost effectiveness in spite of the fact that it indirectly axed the labour force.  26% direct investment from foreign firms were allowed in respect of News paper and Periodicals which own their own presses. The daily News Papers record strong growth, so are the Periodicals and Children Magazines. This caused higher growth in Printing Industry. During last two decades with the emergence of more and more Universities, Schools and other Educational institutions the demand for the printed text volume is tremendously on the increase especially as the literacy rate grew over 66% in the year 2001. It is anticipated that the growth will additionally pick up by 4-5 % every year as export market is also catching up in respect of Print material as labour force and many raw material is cheaper in India. However India struggles to compete with tough client China which has more cheaper labor force.
On the technological front, much development has taken place in printing industry in post independence India. In the last two decades entire pre press industry has transformed from conventional pre press to computerized digital pre press and digital printing thus speeding up the print process. Computers and electronics have intruded into all the departments of printing to improve quality, faster reproduction and to upgrade the quality with speed even though the initial establishment cost were high.
With the emergence of Desktop publishing in 1984-85 , digital and laser printing have taken the process to newer heights, allowing printers to do more than ever before. High definition State of the Art digital technology, Pre press Technology, Inkjet Technology have all added more credence to the Print Industry. Similarly the digital printing industry has seen significant transformations with new technologies & applications providing cost-effective and customized solutions. The growth of Digital Printing Industry is somewhere around 2.5 billion US $ in the year 2012, a fourfold increase compared with previous 5-6 years of growth. These developments have caused closure of the very small printing establishments which were operating with hand operated treadle machines.
One of the reports mention that during last two decades the growth in Printing industry has been in the range of 12%, the printing linked Packaging as 16 % and the Printing Ink manufacturing industry’s growth around 12%. The Indian Printing Ink Manufacturers Association mention that the packaging industries have witnessed a growth of approximately 12.5% and the Corrugated packing industry has grown by over 8%. The flexible packaging industry’s growth is in excess of 15% with the expansion of the food and retail industry. The growth in the packaging industry is due to the ever growing demand of cartons and boxes for consumer products and Pharmaceutical industry. The Label Printing unit is another area that is growing fast. The Indian label industry fast growing and has recorded highest growth rate of 19%. Bar-coded labels are also growing by 30-35% .
Since the Printing Ink manufacturing is allied industry to Printing their growth too adds up in the overall development or growth of the Printing and Allied Industries in India. The Printing Ink in several varieties are used by Commercial Printing presses, Security Printers, and Packaging Industry. Ink manufacturing industry is rapidly growing due to ever increasing Periodicals and News Papers, Printed cartons, text books, and other advertising material. As per the report of the Indian Printing Ink Manufacturers Association, the Indian Printing Ink Industry is valued at approximately Rs. 1,800 to Rs. 2,000 Crores with an average growth rate of 12–15% annually by volume. In terms of tonnage of ink manufactured in India, it is estimated to be 110 million tones. The ink demand in the Newspaper Industry grew rapidly over the past 3–4 years by nearly 20%.
In respect of the usage of Printing machines at one time India’s small Offset presses were equipped with more of Chez and East German machines under brand names ‘Romayor’ ‘Planeta’ and so on while some of the small Offset Printing machines were also imported from UK under brand name ‘Rota Print’ and ‘Multilith’. Over the years India started manufacturing their own small Offset and Letterpress machines with HMT showing the way. Printing machines, equipments and allied tools are manufactured in different sectors in India. Punjab, U.P, Gujarat and Noida has many Printing and packaging machinery manufacturing units. Several firms are exporting single color, double color, four color sheet fed, offset printing machines and newspaper rotaries to the developing as well as developed countries across the globe like USA, CIS, African and Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal etc. The Pre press chemicals and Plate making Chemical supplies are more from Mumbai and Sivakasi.
All India Federation of Master Printers, New Delhi which represents more than 16 million printers in India, reveal  that  the Growth of ”Indian Print Media, Industry and Marketing”   is in the following order:-
  • Projected Growth of Indian Printing and Packaging Industry for 2007-08 is 14 %
  • Projected Growth of Indian Label Printing Industry for 2007-08 is 18 %
  • Value of Equipments and Consumables for 2007-12 in India’s Print and Allied Items is: 


About The Author


Retired Govt of India Official. My hobby is to write articles that range from Printing technologies to Spiritual.

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