Shri S S Kumar, former National Chairman of the Council for Leather Exports and currently the Chairman of the Governing Body of the Government College of Engineering and Leather Technology, has been awarded a knighthood by the Italian government. The award Cavaliere dell’ Ordine Stella della Solidarieta Italiana or the Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity is awarded by the Foreign Minister of Italy under the Decree of the Italian President for Italians and foreign nationals residing outside Italy, who have significantly contributed to the prestige of Italy by way of promoting Italian culture and language and by way of any voluntary activity or humanitarian service that enhances the cordial relations the Italian community enjoys in the world.

Hon. Gianni Vernetti, Minister of State of the Ministry of External Affairs, will presented the decorations on 6 July 2006 at New Delhi.

Shri Kumar expressed satisfaction in being recognised for several years of hard work in harnessing the potential of both countries. ‘While the Italians excelled in technology we had the raw materials. It was an excellent pair of countries to march forward together’, he commented. Italians found India more comfortable to work with and hope that this trend will continue for at least the next few decades.

Kumar fondly recalled his visit to Italy as a part of the delegation with Shri Buddhadev Bhattacharyya, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal in 2003 followed by a delegation headed by Shri Nirupam Sen, Hon’ble minister for Commerce & Industries in 2004 where much headway was made in forging closer ties between the industries of both the countries. The visits were reciprocated by a Minister level Italian delegation headed by Hon. Ambrossio Brenna from Regiona Tuscany to Kolkata when they paid a visit to the leather facilities in the State. Kumar also initiated Italian experts to visit several leather centers in the country and was responsible for the visit of high level footwear component manufacturers from the Marche region of Italy during 2004. He was given the honour of being invited to speak in the 2nd Round Table of the Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and dressers of the European Community at Bologna where he highlighted the position of the developing nations which was received with a standing ovation.

The signing of an MOU between the CLE and ASSOMAC, the Italian association of leather and shoe machinery manufacturers, was a significant step in India and Italy collaborating more closely than ever. One of his initiatives was to set up an Indian Leather Desk in Milan headed by a well-known Italian industry representative and which has started yielding good results. He also contributed in earmarking from the Government of India Rs5 crores for the Leather Design Studio at the Kolkata Leather Complex with Italian technical support.

Through the Italian trade Commission, Kumar also led several leather industry delegations to various parts of Italy and presented several papers.