Submission #10

Submission information
Submitted by Anonymous
22 February 2016 - 6:28pm
Two Sides of the Same Coin

The patriarch of Kirloskar  family, not without bitterness, compared his situation with that of Japan's Toyota. In 1947 S. L. Kirloskar, despite the obstacles thrown in his way by the British Raj, was already a manufacturer of some consequence, with a couple of factories, using imported machinery, and a market whose potential seemed limitless. According to Kirloskar, Kiichiro Toyoda, at that time, ran a Ford dealership in Tokyo. Within three decades Toyota had become one of the world's largest and commercially most successful automobile makers, with a brand name recognized around the world, while Kirloskar, struggling to grow under the stifling constraints imposed upon his like by the Indian government, had held his place as one of India's leading industrialists but had no claim to being mentioned in the same breath as his Japanese contemporary. Toyota had been helped, encouraged, and abetted by the government of Japan and its Ministry of International Trade and Industry; Kirloskar had had to fight his government all the way to expand. Ironically, Mahatma Gandhi's links with Indian businessman during the nationalist movement suggest that a similar partnership between business and government, as in Japan, could have been possible, indeed might have been encouraged by a Vallabhai Patel (the pragmatic deputy prime minister who died within three years of independence). Nehru, who regarded capitalists with distaste and admired the great achievements of the socialist soviet state, headed in another direction, and Mr. Kirloskar and his ilk had to run hard to stay in the same place. In an ironic footnote to the story, Kirloskar's heirs announced in August 1996 that they would participate in a joint venture to manufacture a subcompact car in India; their partner in the venture was Toyota.

(Excerpt from "From Midnight To The Millennium")


Shashi Tharoor

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