The rubber goods industry is an important industry of the country with an investment of about Rs. 3,500 crores and a turnover of more than Rs. 7,000 crores. The industry provides employment to over 7 lakh people. The beginning of the rubber industry may be traced back to 1920 when the Dixie Aye Rubber Factory was set up at Kolkata. Later on the Bata Shoe Co. came into being in 1933 at Batanagar and the Dunlop Rubber Co. in 1935 at Shahaganj.
In the same year the Firestone Tyre and Rubber Co. was also set up at Mumbai. Presently there are 32 large, 220 medium, 5500 small and an equal number of tiny units manufacturing a variety of rubber goods ranging from automobile tyres and tubes, bicycle tires and tubes, footwear, hoses, cots and aprons, surgical and industrial rubber gloves etc.
The raw materials for the industry are provided by natural rubber, synthetic rubber and reclaimed rubber. The total production of natural rubber in 1997-98 was 5, 50,000 tones of which over 93 per cent were contributed by Kerala. Earlier the production of natural rubber was sufficient to meet the indigenous demands. But now shortage is made up by producing synthetic and reclaimed rubber.
Two plants of synthetic rubber have been set up at Bareilly (in 1955; capacity 30,000 tons per annum), and Vadodara (in 1977; capacity 20,000 tons per annum). Similarly there are three plants located at Mumbai, Ahmadabad and Amritsar with annual installed capacity of 22,000 tons.
The rubber industry is mostly located at such center like Kolkata, Haora, Mumbai, Kankroli (Rajasthan), Shahaganj and Thiruvananthapuram.
Automobile tires and tubes constitute per cent of the rubber goods, followed by cycle and tubes 13 per cent, footwear 10 per cent and hoses 5 percent. Of the total investment over 2,000 crore have been invested in the and industry. Dunlop Rubber Co. Shahaganj, the J. Tires, Kankroli (Rajasthan), and the Firestone and Rubber Co., Mumbai are the major manufactures of automobile tires and tubes. Bicycle tires £ tubes are manufactured by the National Rub Manufacturers, Kolkata; the RBS Jain Rubber Mil Haora; the Indian Rubber Goods Manufacturing C Kolkata and the Travancore Rubber Work Thiruvananthapuram.
The export of tires and which was Rs. 644 crore in 1994-95 has been creased to Rs. 655 crore in 1995-96 and Rs. crore in 1996-97. The export of other rubber go~ is also increasing. Yugoslavia, Czech Rep. Rep., U.K.,Sudan, Iraq, Korea are the main buyer of automobile tires and tubes; Afghanistan, Ghan Austria, Bangladesh, Guyana, USA, Iraq, German Greece, Italy and Romania mainly by bicycle tires tubes while Russia, Canada, USA, Zambia and Mid East countries mainly purchase rubber footwear.