In 2013 the ceramic industry of Gujarat celebrates its 100 years of innovation. So now let us look back at the origin of Indian ceramic hub.
History of Gujarat ceramics has been revolutionary in terms of its technological exploration, experimentation and growth. Morbi & Thangadh alone have played a significant role to take India to new heights of ceramic industry. Figures prove that Morbi alone is world’s 4 th largest producer of ceramic tiles. The journey of success is an inspirational story about creativity and continuous hunt for opportunities.
The Gujarat ceramics originated in Thangadh & then flourished in Morbi to an extent that it is recognized worldwide as ceramic hub of India. The initiation phase of ceramics in India is very interesting. It started in 1913 with an idea clicked to Mr. Shorab Dalal as he saw a traditional smoking pipe at Thangadh railway station. The idea inspired him to venture into ceramics. He was the pioneer who planted roots of Gujarat ceramics with roofing tiles industry in Thangadh without having any predefined path and a predictable destination. It was only his obsession which led him to experimentation & exploration by establishing unlimited scope in ceramics.
Continuing the journey ahead, in 1934, late Sri Parshuram Balwant Gunpule took over that Roof tiles factory with a great vision and desire to succeed. During the decade 1930 to 1940, for getting the required expertise & know-how, he invited ceramic technicians from other states. With this, he ventured into business of Potteries with inception of new pottery units in Jabalpur and Nagpur.
Another significant contributor, Late Sh. L. R. Bhagat started his pottery units in Kolkata and Delhi and later on he joined Bengal Potteries. These developments instigated requirement of technology to achieve operational effectiveness. This thought stimulated Late Sh. C P Shah, a Thangadh based industrialist, to go to Japan for gaining technology & process proficiency. This encouraged him to start Bombay Potteries in Mumbai. Considering his remarkable efforts in the field of ceramics, the state government asked him to publish a report on "Prospects of Ceramic Industry in the State". Another expert, Late Sh. Talakchandbhai migrated to Ahmedabad and started his crockery unit. Thus, many technicians having ceramic expertise & spirit of entrepreneurship migrated from the ceramic origin (Thangadh/Morbi) to other resourceful places to start their pottery units. There was a time when you could find technician from Thangadh/Morbi in every ceramic factory.
As any industry grows, it brings potential challenges which need to be converted into significant growth opportunities. The ceramics experts in India sensed operational effectiveness and technology as a challenge for their growth and therefore, started networking worldwide for exchanging know-how and building mutual associations. In this context, Dada Parshuram was first Indian who entered into collaboration with a Japanese company ‘Taka Sago’ for experiencing a new sphere of development. Believing the same approach, Sh. Mahadevbhai Prajapati (of Argil Ceramic) undertook an industrial tour of Japan, Italy and France to understand the scenario of international ceramic industries, which transformed the conventional ceramic operations into a new age of technology. We still memorize how fast the Down Draught Kilns were replaced by Tunnel Kilns!
Simultaneously, industry was looking for new material compositions which can create scope for better & new product applications. After a thorough viability analysis of new material sources, Earthenware came into the picture in 1935-45. In 1945-60, the continuous experimentation on the same lines led to discovery of products made of semi-vitreous material. This was a turning point as semi-vitreous material got evolved to vitreous material, which proved as an enthusiastic start to era of sanitaryware in India. Many local technicians having entrepreneurial instinct took risk and started small scale sanitary ware units and ancillary industries.
From Roofing tiles to Pottery and then to Earthenware and Sanitaryware, the growth was never ending. The well-established entrepreneurs in Sanitaryware diversified into Ceramic tiles. The diversification at a fast rate intensified the tile production units in Morbi. Also the locally produced mosaic tiles from Morbi became famous all over India and joined band wagon.
……..and the rest is history!