Kamal Vyas 13.10.1960 – 8.7.2020


Kamal Vyas 13.10.1960 – 8.7.2020
Kamal Vyas 13.10.1960 – 8.7.2020 Photo Manroland Sheetfed via Internet

Kamal Vyas passed away in Jodhpur on the night of 8 July 2020. He was sixty years old. Although a long-time resident of Mumbai, he grew impatient with the pandemic and lockdown conditions in the city and, with all appropriate permissions, came away to his hometown Jodhpur where he, unfortunately, contracted Covid-19 and was extensively treated. At first, he recovered and also received plasma therapy, but ultimately the coronavirus took him away. He is survived by his wife and a married daughter, who has a family of her own and lives in Jaipur.

What can one say but that the Covid-19 is too close to us — and that it affects many people in our industry too. There is no immunity that comes from being associated with printing, publishing and packaging.

Kamal Vyas was a gentleman who worked in our industry his entire adult life. Basically, in the marketing and sales of offset presses, first for Indo-European Machinery, then for Proteck Machinery when it brought Mitsubishi multicolor presses to India, and finally with Manroland Sheetfed. Selling capital equipment requires building relationships with customers and trust. And in a world where the offset press and the ancillary equipment that go with it are in seemingly constant turmoil in terms of technology change, insolvencies, change of ownership, and distributorships, it is up to the salesman to soldier on and maintain continuity – and above all trust.

Not an easy territory to occupy, sales takes a lot of energy and time. I can imagine a lot of pressure from both sides – from the printer customer and the Japanese or German manufacturers. To be caught in the middle and delivering the promises made in good faith is not always easy. In India, too often, the salesman is also the person who informs and teaches technology. Running the press and maintenance can also come on his head, especially in earlier days when the installed base of new presses was smaller and there were fewer engineers.

Our company and I knew Kamal Vyas as an accommodating, considerate person. He valued print not only as a professional but as a thoughtful reader, often praising some of the most intellectually challenging editors that the mainstream news media was fortunate to have over the years. He was personally helpful to our IppStar research team and me in our extensive research over the past 20 years. For us, he was an expert where we could validate data and do plausibility checks. I shared some good moments and some tragic moments with Kamal, and I will miss knowing that he was always there to answer the phone. Our condolences go out to his colleagues and his family.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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