Monday, May 27, 2024

Manoj Kochar outlines ASPA’s roadmap for advancing authentication technologies

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In an interview with Mahan Hazarika, Manoj Kochar, the recently elected president of ASPA, shares insights into the association’s strategic plans. Kochar discusses ambitious initiatives to enhance ASPA’s influence, grow its membership, and establish itself as a leader in authentication and traceability. He candidly talks about the challenges ASPA encounters in combating counterfeiting and the changing trends in authentication technologies.

Manoj Kochar, president of ASPA

Mahan Hazarika: As the newly elected president, what specific goals or initiatives do you plan to prioritize during your term?

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Manoj Kochar: I am honored to be the president of ASPA in its landmark 25th year. I vividly remember that it was during my term as the president that the Hologram Manufacturers Association of India (HoMAI) reinvented itself to ASPA. I am hoping that during this tenure, we will be able to increase the membership and also strengthen our position as a thought leader in the authentication and traceability segment. ASPA will reach out to regulatory bodies and industry associations to advocate the usage of authentication and traceability technologies.

Mahan Hazarika: How do you envision strengthening ASPA’s impact and influence under your leadership?

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Manoj Kochar: ASPA’s impact and influence can be strengthened further as we reach out more to the industry and government. We plan to make our presence more visible by being an active participant at industry shows and conferences. We also plan to hold webinars and conferences to spread awareness about the need to curb the menace of counterfeiting and promote the adoption of authentication solutions. We have several publications that report the state of counterfeiting in the country and also a suppliers directory.

A chunk of the authentication business in the country and also in several overseas markets is being served by ASPA members, and I am sure that ASPA members’ market share will only increase in the times to come. ASPA will work even more closely with other international associations, such as the London-based International Hologram Manufacturers Association, Tax Stamp Association, etc in the space of holography and authentication and traceability so as to foster a greater level of international collaborative approach to fight counterfeiting.

Mahan Hazarika: What are the major challenges in the current authentication environment that ASPA is actively addressing?

Manoj Kochar: Right from its inception, ASPA has been in a challenging market situation. It was not easy to create an ecosystem to take on counterfeiting. ASPA has been actively interacting with regulators, government departments, brands and industry associations. Our members have also done an admirable job in spreading awareness of the authentication solutions. ASPA has documented a strategic plan on how to increase its impact, and several working groups within ASPA are devoting their time and energy to further the growth of ASPA in alignment with this strategic plan.

Mahan Hazarika: Are there emerging opportunities or trends that ASPA aims to capitalize on in the coming years?

Manoj Kochar: Authentication so far has been driven by physical technologies such as hologram and optically variable diffractive images, security printing, and specialty inks, amongst others. But these are the times of everything going digital. Several digital authentication technologies have emerged, such as non-cloneable QR codes and other such non-cloneable imagery. ASPA members have rallied to adopt these developments, and they combine the best of both and offer a ‘PHYGITAL’ solution – PHYsical + diGITAL. A lot of newer hologram technologies such as color changing and true color elements, shaped lenses offer greater security and aesthetics. Microlens technology is another exciting area that is witnessing a lot of action with its adoption on some of the major currencies in the world.

The Government of India recently mandated that India’s top 300 pharmaceutical brands carry a QR code to ensure full traceability. The FDA also has similar requirements for export to the USA. Quite a few of the ASPA members are offering this to their customers.

ASPA members are nimble to assess and respond to the changing trends and emerging opportunities in the market and I am sure that they will capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Mahan Hazarika: How does ASPA measure the impact of its initiatives in terms of reducing counterfeiting activities? Are there specific metrics or success stories that demonstrate ASPA’s effectiveness?

Manoj Kochar: ASPA undertakes several initiatives to measure the impact and the current status of counterfeiting in India. We recently commissioned CRISIL to undertake a national survey and published the State of Counterfeiting Report, which gives a snapshot of counterfeiting across the entire nation and major industry segments. We also publish the Counterfeiting News Repository, which is also hosted on our website and has searchable content. Our regular publication – The Authentication Times, typically takes up an industry or market segment/technology and updates our readers on the same. ASPA’s publications are frequently quoted by various other agencies and we have emerged as a thought leader in this space.

Mahan Hazarika: In closing, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ASPA’s future plans?

Manoj Kochar: As I mentioned earlier also, ASPA has already documented a long-term strategic plan that defines the way forward with the objective of advancing research and development, promotion and adoption of authentication and traceability solutions, enhancing awareness, and measuring the impact of counterfeiting, amongst others. We will interact even more strongly with regulators, government bodies, enforcement authorities, and brand owners to aid in creating an effective ecosystem to eradicate the menace of counterfeiting.

Mahan Hazarika
Mahan Hazarika
Mahan Hazarika has been serving as the Editor of The Packman since 2017, demonstrating an impressive decade-long expertise in the field of writing about the printing and packaging industry. In his leisure time, he indulges in his passions for music, travel, and watching movies.

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