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HomeBusinessOver 3 decades of screen printing: A. V. Suseelan, Glory Printers, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Over 3 decades of screen printing: A. V. Suseelan, Glory Printers, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

03 October 2020: My screen printing unit was established in 1988 and we were the first to start such a printing press. Since printing is done manually, the area of operation was limited to one room of 12’ x 12’ only. We are working with one printer and two assistants.

Being a remote area, at that time, having a population of 3 lakh (as per 1990 report) in Port Blair, the volume of work was very less when compared to Mainland India. Initially, it was only printing of visiting cards, letterheads and invitations. There is no industrial unit here and as such we could not explore any big industrial type printing. Later, we started printing wedding cards, t-shirts, caps, etc. In the meantime, many screen printing units started cropping up here. Now there may be around 9 screen printing units in the islands.

Initially, printing here was done through treadle press; later it was replaced by mini offset press. Now there are 15 offset units. There are no colour offset units in these islands as yet. We depend on Mainland India for colour printing. Being cheap and fast, people shifted their printing works to offset printing. With the induction of digital machines 18” x 12”, people were more attracted to digital pining, as they get instant prints. One sheet of 18”x12” print will cost only Rs.30 so 25 visiting cards can be printed in one sheet. So visiting cards, letterheads and invitations with light shade are now printed on digital machines.

Now screen printing activity is mostly concentrated on file folder printing, invitation printing, diary printing, etc. I am a regular reader of ‘Screen Print India’ magazine. Nobody has dared to invest in screen printing machine as the volume of work here is very meagre and as such, it is not viable taking into consideration its investment. Paper and board used for printing are available with local dealers here. Other materials – ink, chemicals, etc. are sourced from Chennai.

Now, coming to COVID-19! The lockdown here became effective in the third week of March 2020. Since then there has been no printing work, as shops and establishments are closed. Marriages practically nil and no invitations are printed, because the number of participants has been restricted to 50. Mostly masks are being produced locally by SHG’s / NGO’s or purchased from Mainland. The administration is getting their stationery for publicity, etc. from Mainland India, mostly through central agencies. We printed 5,000 cloth bags and supplied to government agencies for distributing ration articles to labourers, etc.

Though lockdown is withdrawn from 1st September, the situation has not improved. Tourism activities are in a standstill and it may take a few more months to get back to normal. Let us hope for the best. We had visited Screen Print India exhibition in Mumbai (in the year 2010) with group of 10-12 Printers from Andamans and it helped us a lot to know about new opportunities in screen printing and also were able to get in touch with new suppliers. We also attended the technical seminars which was conducted by Leading International Consultants.

Before I conclude let me invite all the readers to visit Andaman & Nicobar Islands at least once in a lifetime if not more. A&N Islands has incomparable natural beauty. It is located approximately 1,200 km east of the Indian Mainland and falls on Bay of Bengal. It has as an area of 8,250 Sq. km. People from all states can be seen here and so Andaman is known as “Mini India”.

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