The history and the culture of this town go hand in hand with the Leather industries. Although the Tanning of leather dates back to prehistoric period with greater importance in the Greek and Roman civilization, imperialism (British, French & Portugal) opened the doors for the leather industry to creep into India and southern India in particular due to the access to harbors. Ancient India was full of caste and sects. Tanning of leather was practiced by a distinct caste called CHAMMARS which has reference in Rig-Veda (Macdonnell’s History of Sanskrit Literature, 1925, pp 167-168)
India with high meat eating population coupled with the Largest Livestock population in the world makes it rich in raw material resource. The temperate land in India which is a prime criterion for tanning, crafted a niche for the industry to draw attention of the West to reap the benefit from this God gifted land of animals. The growth of this industry from the yesteryear had been gradual yet phenomenal. From being a mere manufacturer of semi finished leather more than a century ago it climbed up the ladder as shown in the pyramid below –
The industry grew so much that it had to import raw material to bridge the demand-supply gap. Thanks to the Govt. policies which eventually banned the export of the semi finished leather in the mid 80’s. This policy came as a blessing in disguise that forced the tanners to move the ladder up ahead in their processes, ultimately giving much more value addition to their own products thereby increasing manifold times the revenue from foreign trade. This sparked the boom in the industry in the late 80’s where this cottage industry moved to be called small and now medium and large scale industries !!! With the help of a handful of the Dynamic Magnates, the industry witnessed backward and forward integrations which lead to the mushrooming of Shoes, Garments and Glove factories in the areas of Ambur, Madras (Now Chennai), Ranipet, Pernambut, Vaniyambadi, Devas, Kanpur, Calcutta and Agra to name a few.
With the dawn of the Millennium, the industry was ready for M&A with Govt. encouraging FDI and Tannery Modernizations. It was also during this time the Dragons (Chinese) started roaring, making the entire leather making countries run for their money. Even the masters of the European Nations had to fall on their knees to abnormal cost benefits arising from the China’s economies of scale. This was countered by India with the help of QUALITY PRODUCTS. Many Industry Pioneers at that point of time were epitome of Sheer excellence!! With whose strategies it was possible to withstand the cut throat competition from our Biggest Neighbor country. Thus the stages of the Business were complete. Now, this labor intensive industry commands itself with social responsibility giving employment to millions of families benefiting ultimately the Nation in the whole.
This is the chronology of Leather Industry in the town of Vaniyambadi with more than 100 Tanneries now!