Indian rubber board chairman to head the International Rubber Study Group

India has been elected as the new Chairman of the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG). The decision was made unanimously in the meeting of the Heads of Delegations (HOD) held at Singapore on 14 July 2011. Head of the Indian delegation to IRSG, Mrs. Sheela Thomas, Chairman of the Indian Rubber Board, will officiate as the Chairman of IRSG representing India. She will remain as the Chairman of the Group for the next two years. A 1985 batch IAS officer, Ms Sheela Thomas is a native of Kollakadavu near Mavelikkara, kerala state. She has served the Kerala Government as Director (Social Welfare), Kottayam District Collector, Managing Director (Civil Supplies Corporation), Director (Industries), Director (Census Operations), Special Secretary (Agriculture), Secretary (Transport), Secretary (NORKA) and Secretary (Information and Public Relations Department).

The meeting was part of the 107th Group Meetings of IRSG held from 11 to 14 July 2011. The position of Chairman became vacant as Cote’ d Ivoire completed two years as Chairman. EU was elected as the new Vice-Chairman for the next two years. Members opined that India, being both a producer and a consumer of rubber, would be in a good position to protect the interests of both producers and consumers in IRSG. Apart from Chairman, Rubber Board, the Indian delegation to the IRSG Group Meetings included Mr. J.B. Upadhyay, Under Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Mr. Toms Joseph, Deputy Director, Rubber Board.

Another major development in the meeting was the adoption of a revised constitution for IRSG. The Group was formed in its present form in 1944 and the constitution was formulated then. The headquarters of the Group was shifted from London to Singapore in 2008. This necessitated changes in the constitution with regard to administrative and logistic matters. There was also need to change the structure of the organisation, its work pattern etc according to the changing trends in world rubber industry, developments in commodity organisations and requirements of stakeholders. During the last three years several meetings were held to negotiate a revised constitution. Finally in a meeting of HOD held in November 2010 in Singapore, a revised text was accepted by the member countries. This revised text had to be approved by the governments of member countries before formal adoption. Govt of India accorded approval for the revised text in February 2011.

The revised constitution was formally adopted by the HOD meeting. Members hoped that the provisions in the new constitution would provide the leverage to the member governments, secretariat and rubber industry as a whole to participate more effectively in the Group for common benefit. The HOD also took several decisions to move the Group forward and make it more useful to rubber industry stakeholders. One of the important decisions was to organise the World Rubber Summit as a mega event in Singapore during the next three years on an annual basis. The Summit scheduled to be held in May 2012 would be organised by IRSG in association with International Enterprise, Singapore. The rubber industry stakeholders would have opportunity to be co-sponsors.

In the HOD pre-meeting held on 11 July, the member countries highlighted the relevance of the Group as it is the only forum where NR and SR producers and consumers can come together for discussing issues of mutual interest. It is also the only comprehensive source of rubber statistics in the world. Further it is the only International Commodity Body approved by Common Fund for Commodities for development financing in rubber sector. The communication circulated by chairman of the Indian Rubber Board among member countries, substantiating the relevance of the organisation and boosting the morale of the prevailing members was highly appreciated in the meeting.

The meeting of the Industry Advisory Panel (IAP) held on 12 and 13 July was attended by stakeholder representatives from public and private sectors. The members of the IAP coming from member and non-member countries strongly supported the work programme of IRSG.

There are three major international rubber organisations viz., ANRPC, IRSG and IRRDB. The first two are intergovernmental and the third one is a network of research institutions in the rubber sector in different countries. The new Chairman of the Group, Mrs. Sheela Thomas, while presiding over the meeting of the HOD, highlighted the need for increased coordination among these organisations. She said that there should not be duplication of work among the organizations and the synergy of expertise of the three organisations would be appropriately utilised for the benefit of rubber industry.

The next meeting of the HOD will be held in Singapore in May 2012 in conjunction with the World Rubber Summit.

Source: India infoline