How did fmcg industry benefit from british east india company world over

What was the East India Company?

The English East India Company (EIC) started as a joint-stock company under the royal charter issued by Queen Elizabeth. For more than two centuries, it grew and remained a powerful force in India, exerting influence in the ruling of the country. It was the leading factor in creating the British Empire.

Why was the EIC so successful?

Dutch sold Black Pepper, Red Chillie, Turmeric, Seeds etc. spices to Britain after getting from India. Dutch community decided to increase the rate of Black Pepper by 5 shillings/pound. (5 shillings = $0.45/pound = Rs 15/kg)

(Illustration of forming of East India Company by Maurice Greifenhagen, 1908)

24 leading businessmen and merchants of British Community of that time held a meeting in Leadenhall Street, London on September 4th, 1599. In the afternoon, these 24 merchants decided not to buy Black Peppers from Dutch, but do a direct business with India. £72,000 were put on the table by 24 men that day.

A Picture of the British East India Company product. (Image: Tethys Imaging LLC/Shutterstock)
Apparently the East India Company gained confidence to expand the territory and manage trade more conveniently. And the rest is history.

The East India Company started trading in Spice Islands, a collection of 13,000 islands the most important of which is today’s Indonesia. However, after a series of wars with the Dutch, they decided to start trading in India. Up until then, India was just the route to the Spice Islands. After shifting from Indonesia to India, the company saw unprecedented success. This growth was the result of a highly efficient administration system. The whole administrative structure consisted of 24 directors organized into different committees. The chairman of the company was elected by the shareholders. There was a well-organized hierarchy of officers with various ranks.

There was also a wide range of merchandise traded by the EIC. They ranged from porcelain and indigo to textiles, coffee, and tea, and even saltpeter (potassium nitrate, the main ingredient for making gunpowder).


All these factors created an immense power for the company. It was even treated as a corporate personality informally referred to as ‘The Honorable company’ or ‘John Company’.

Flag of the British East India Company, 1801–1858.

A flag of the English East India Company 1801. (Image: Yaddah assumed (based on copyright claims)./Public domain)

What was the British East India Company trading with India?


What were the goods that the East India Company was bringing to India:

>a little amount of coffee from Mocha and other ports of the Persian gulf.

>a few hundred horses from Persia

lots of bullion that was then given to Indian mints for making purchase of goods within India.
This happened till c. 1758. After the conquest of Bengal the East India Company stopped bringing in such goods to India.


Taking from India:
> a wide variety of Indian cotton textiles and silks from China and India. India supplied lots of plain cotton cloth of the cheaper variety and only a slightly lesser amount of coloured cloth which had a demand among the fashionable crowd of Europe. Prints were preferred to cloth woven with multicoloured thread since prints were cheaper to produce.
>saltpeter (India was almost the only reliable supplier to Europe of this important component of gunpowder)
> some porcelain and Chinese tea (in the seventeenth century)


By the late 17th century Bengal had begun to emerge as an important source of supplies that the East India Company could purchase for sale in Europe. Goods purchased from Bengal included cotton cloth, opium, saltpeter, sugar and silk.
The total business of the English and the Dutch East India Companies from Bengal did not exceed 150 tons annually in the 1730s. In contrast, business by Asian merchants in the 1730s and exported by land outside of Bengal was over 750 tons per year– five times more than the business of the East India Companies.

By the late 18th century goods brought to India by the British East India Company had become almost negligible. The export of silks from Bengal fell to a neglible portion of the total 500 tons per year silks being carried by the Company. The Company was now sourcing most of its requirements from China and other Asian countries.

In the late 18th century the East India Company began to bring into India irons and iron goods like cannons and guns for sale to India. It also began to purchase opium in India and take it to China for sale.

The real volume of the textile trade remained almost constant between 1700-1800.


 “What was the East India Company?”

The East India Company had been involved in everything from getting China hooked on opium (the Company grew opium in India, then illegally exported it to China in exchange for coveted Chinese goods) to the international slave trade (it conducted slaving expeditions, transported slaves and used slave labor throughout the 17th and 18th centuries).

The East India Company may have since been overshadowed by modern capitalism, but its legacy is still felt around the world.









Medicines (Quinine / Smallpox inoculations)

Local loans

Land auctions

Opium auctions

Shipping charges on:Mail

Private trade


Indentured labourers


Tax revenues / Custom duties

Fines / Penal revenue

From: East India Company – Wikipedia

From: In Search of Stability: Economics of Money, History of the Rupee, By Sashi Sivramkrishna,

From: The Digital South Asia Library-Statistics

see also: Modern World System and Indian Proto-industrialization: Bengal 1650-1800, Singh A.k., 


Black tea was first produced in the late 16th century. Fermenting the green tea leaves allowed them to be stored longer. This, not coincidentally, allowed them to be shipped greater distances, spending many months in the holds of the European vessels which had started to come to trade in China not long before that. Black tea was, in short, an excellent export good, so that’s what made it to Europe. It was the Portuguese who started importing it in the early 17th century, and tea made the move to England in the 1660s when the Portuguese Princess Catherine married King Charles.


Yes tea is considered an Indian thing because nobody prepares the “Chai” quiet like us.

Chinese and Japanese just brewed the leaves and drank it.

We made our own recipe with milk and spices (masala) and made it into every household as an essential drink.

Britishers did introduce tea to india rather smuggled it to India and we made it popular.

 An interesting article published by The Hindu on How chai arrived in India 170 years ago

It all began with a Scottish mandarin who smuggled a tea plant from China in 1848

Britain’s first taste of tea was belated — the Chinese had been drinking it for 2,000 years. The English diarist, Samuel Pepys, mentions tea in his diary entry from September 25, 1600. “Tcha,” wrote Pepys, the “excellent and by all Physicians approved, China drink,” was sold in England from 1635, for prices as high as £6 to £10 per pound of the herb (£600 to £1,000, today). In 1662, when King Charles II married the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, her dowry constituted a chest of tea, and the island of Bombay for an annual lease of £10, equivalent then to the cost of a pound of tea in England. Catherine, who was used to drinking tea in the Portuguese court, had her first sip of the beverage in England in May 1662 — the month of her wedding — at Portsmouth.

Twining's the oldest brand in Tea.

In the 18th century, Dutch firm J.J. Voute & Sons ruthlessly exploited the incapacity of the English East India Company to supply tea to Britain’s thriving domestic elites and coffee houses, smuggling about eight million pounds of tea, annually. Yet, Dutch tea soon became a “name for all teas that are bad in quality and unfit for use.” Meanwhile, the English company began strengthening its commercial ties with China, as Bombay turned into the seed of British India’s commerce, escalating all other European — especially Portuguese and Dutch — operations.

Fmcg brands and companies with pre-1947 roots

Truly Made in India.

Origin of Famous Indian Brands

Indian companies had appeared even during British rule. Prominent among these are Tata Group (1868), Dabur (1884), Godrej (1897), Vadilal (1907), and Parle G (1929). The oldest joint stock bank was Allahabad Bank, established in 1865. 

Initiative pertaining to Indian brands was taken after independence from 1952. For instance, Jawaharlal Nehru was concerned about Indian women using foreign cosmetics. So on his instruction, JRD Tata and Simone Tata created Lakme.

The Right Mindset

Changing the attitude towards creating something new is essential for Indian brands to grow. In the words of JRD Tata, “Never start with diffidence, always start with confidence.” Success stories are made only when someone decides to change the course of his or her life.

Overcoming social stigma can take you a long way to achieve your goals. A persistent attitude is essential in getting a position as an Indian brand among international brands.

Some of the following famous Indian brands were originally foreign and now have Indian owners. Others were created in India but flaunt European names. They strive to produce famous products in India.

Here is a list of  famous Indian brands that live up to the international standard.

Royal Enfield

Originally a British company, this brand was established in 1893. The old Royal Enfield bikes were produced under the Enfield Cycle Company, as it was called then. Eicher Motors, an Indian motorcycle company founded in 1948, bought it in 1994. The name was also changed to Royal Enfield India. The characteristic thumping engine sounds and high capacity engines of these bikes made in India enthrall our ears.

Royal Enfield
Royal Enfield

Van Heusen India

Van Heusen is a clothing brand under PVH Corp., formerly called the Phillips Van Heusen Corporation. Founded in 1889, PVH was named after Dutch immigrant John Manning Van Heusen. Van Heusen India, the Indian section of the brand, is owned by Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited. The products of Van Heusen India are made in India. ABFRL is India’s first billion dollar fashion powerhouse.

Van Heusen India
Van Heusen India

Allen Solly

Allen Solly was created in 1744 by William Holin and Company Limited. However, the apparel brand came into Indian hands in the late 20th century. It was bought by Madura Garments in 1993. Soon, Aditya Birla group acquired the ownership rights in 2001 and turned it into a famous Indian brand. Designed mainly for men, Allen Solly shirts have a popular fan base in India and abroad. Living in the digital world, we can easily order snazzy clothes from the Allen Solly online store.

Allen Solly
Allen Solly

Old Monk

Usually deemed as popular foreign liquor, Old Monk Rum is an Indian dark rum brand. It was first brought to the market in 1954 by Mohan Meakin Limited in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. The lack of advertising has not stopped it from being the biggest Indian Made Foreign Liquor Brand (IMFL) for several years. In 2013, it was the world’s largest black rum selling company. Old Monk is made in India and sold by retailers in Russia, Japan, USA, Estonia, UK and other countries.

Old MonkOld Monk


Fmcg Brands & Companies operating in India Since British East India Company  


American inventor Elisha Graves Otis built the first safety elevator in 1852. In the 1870s, Otis entered Europe. Its elevators were installed at the Kremlin, Balmoral Castle, the Hungarian Royal Palace and the Eiffel Tower. In the early 1900s, the Buckingham and the Mysore Palaces were also home to Otis elevators

Bombay Burmah Trading Corp. was formed to encourage the teak business. Gradually, it expanded its trading all over Asia. In 1913, it turned to tea plantations, its current business. It is a leading company of the Wadia Group.


The oldest joint stock bank in India, Allahabad Bank was founded on 24 April 1865, by three Europeans in the city after which it is named. Allahabad Bank and corporate India grew side by side. In 1969, it was one of the 14 banks to be nationalized


1866: NESTLÉ

In 1866, German-born pharmacist Henri Nestlé developed farine lactée (flour with milk) in Vevey, Switzerland, for infants. World War I brought good business because of demand for its condensed milk. It survived the Great Depression because of its iconic Nescafé coffee. Nestlé is now the largest food and beverage company in the world



Britannia Industries was founded with Rs295 to cater to British officers and their families. Operations were mechanized in 1910 and industrial ovens installed in 1921. In 1954, it pioneered high-quality sliced and wrapped bread. In 2000, Britannia was among the top 300 small firms on the Forbes global list.


Founded in Lahore in 1895 by a group of visionaries and patriots—including Lala Lajpat Rai and E.C. Jessawala—Punjab National Bank (PNB) was born out of the sentiment that “Indian capital was being used to run English banks and companies…” PNB was the first bank in India to introduce the teller system in 1944.



Incorporated in 1897 as a public limited company, Century Textiles and Industries had only one unit until 1951—a cotton textile mill. Since then it has made rapid progress in yarn, denim, and pulp and paper industries, among others. In 2016, it won the IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality “Best Practices award”.


In 1897, Ardeshir Godrej decided to make locks, safes and security equipment. In 1918, the company launched Chavi, the first soap in the world to be made from vegetable oil. It was chosen to manufacture ballot boxes for India’s first general elections in 1951.


The Calcutta Electricity Supply Corporation (now CESC Ltd) was commissioned by the British government as part of its push to modernize India. Being the British capital till 1911, Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the first Indian city to be entirely electrified.


Initially called Shalimar Paint Colour and Varnish Co., Shalimar Paints Ltd was established in 1902 in Howrah by A.N. Turner and A.N. Wright. The company has pioneered aviation coatings, marine paints and the painting of thermal power plants. The Rashtrapati Bhavan, Howrah Bridge and the Salt Lake Stadium continue to use Shalimar paints

The Indian Hotels Co. was incorporated in 1903 by Jamsetji Tata. The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai was the first to be opened by the Indian business conglomerate. One anecdote says Tata wanted to build the best hotel by European standards for Indians after facing racial discrimination at the Watson’s Hotel in Mumbai, while another reason posited in the 1880s by Lovat Fraser, a former Times of India editor and a close friend of the Tatas, goes that he wanted to attract the best people from the world over to improve Bombay (now Mumbai).


Now called City Union Bank Ltd, Kumbakonam Bank was incorporated as a limited company on 31 October 1904. Initially, it preferred a regional role and adopted an agency model, and opened its first branch in 1930. Its name was changed to City Union Bank in 1987.


Ramnarain Ruia, then head of the Ruia business family, acquired Phoenix Mills and two other mills in 1905 to begin his textiles business. In 1959, the firm was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and in 1987, ventured into real estate and built the famous shopping hub, High Street Phoenix, Mumbai. India’s first hypermarket, Big Bazaar, was opened at the mall in 2001.


Now known as Corporation Bank, this bank opened its first branch only in 1923. Nationalized in 1980, it became the second public sector bank in India to enter the capital market, with its initial public offering being oversubscribed 13 times in 1997.


Philanthropist Ammembal Subbarao Pai founded Canara Bank in 1906 and called it the Canara Bank Hindu Permanent Fund. It was renamed Canara Bank in 1969 after nationalization. Its first overseas branch opened in London in 1993. The bank went public in 2002-03.



Founded by a group of eminent businessmen from Bombay, including Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, Bank of India was under private ownership till July 1969 when it was nationalized. It was the first among the nationalized banks to establish a fully computerized branch and ATM at the Mahalaxmi Branch in Mumbai in 1989.



Alembic Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1907 with the support of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, two renowned chemists—Prof. T.K. Gajjar and Prof. Kotibhaskar—and B. D. Amin, a business management expert. It brought about the distillation of spirit by modern processes and the utilization of spirit in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.


Tata Steel established one of Asia’s first integrated steel plants in 1907 in Jamshedpur. Post independence, the steel for the projects announced under the newly devised Five-Year Plans came from the Tata factories. It supplied steel to build the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata, the Bhakra-Nangal Project and the Damodar Valley Corporation, the port at Kandla and the city of Chandigarh among others.



Bank of Baroda was founded by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda, supported by several eminent personalities. The bank was nationalized in 1969. It opened its first international branches in 1953. The bank went public in 1996.


Swan Energy was incorporated in 1909 as Swan Mills Ltd, making and marketing textile products.

Today, it is owned by the Dave and Merchant families, who took over from the J.P. Goenka Group in 1992. It entered real estate in 2004 and green energy in 2008.



Now known as ITC Ltd, the company had humble beginnings with a leased office on Radha Bazar Lane, Kolkata. The first six decades were devoted to its cigarettes and leaf tobacco businesses. The packaging and printing business was set up in 1925. ITC now operates in hotels, paperboards, agri-business, stationery, lifestyle retailing, information technology and fast-moving consumer goods.

1911: TVS

The company was founded in 1911 by T.V. Sundaram lyengar, a fleet operator. Today, the TVS Group spans across automobiles, aviation, education, electronics, energy, finance, housing, insurance, investment, logistics and textiles. It has more than 90 firms under the umbrella, the largest of which is the TVS Motor Co.



Founded on 21 December 1911 by Parsi banker Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawala, Central Bank claims to have been the first commercial Indian bank completely owned and managed by Indians. It was instrumental in the creation of the first Indian exchange bank, the Central Exchange Bank of India, which opened in London in 1936.

India’s largest integrated power utility, Tata Power Co. was founded in 1915 as Tata Hydroelectric Power Supply Co. It established India’s first large hydroelectric project in Khopoli, Maharashtra, in 1915. In 2013, it commissioned the country’s first 4,000 megawatts ultra mega power project at Mundra, Gujarat.


Incorporated as the Birla Jute Manufacturing Co. Ltd in 1919, Birla Corp. is the flagship company of the M.P. Birla Group. Under its first chairman Madhav Prasad Birla, it diversified into cement, vinyl flooring and auto trims. Under the chairmanship of his wife, Priyamvada Birla, it crossed the Rs1,300 crore turnover mark and the name was changed to Birla Corp. in 1998.

Kesoram Industries was founded in 1919 as Kesoram Cotton Mills Ltd in Kolkata. It entered rayon production in 1959 and was called Kesoram Rayon. The company soon entered the tyres and cement businesses under the names Birla Tyres and Birla Shakti Cement, respectively. In 1986, it changed its name to Kesoram Industries.


Three British firms merged to form the Goodlass and Lead Industries Group Ltd. After many takeovers and changes in nomenclature, the company was called Goodlass Nerolac Paints Pvt. Ltd and went public in 1968. In 2000, it was acquired by Kansai Paint Co. of Japan.



In one of the first American investments in India, Ingersoll Rand India Pvt. Ltd was founded in Kolkata in 1921. It established its first manufacturing plant in Naroda, Ahmedabad, in 1965 and went public in 1977. It now specializes in industrial technology, and climate and residential solutions.


Starting out as Hadfield’s (India) in 1923, Berger Paints India Ltd had just one factory in Howrah, West Bengal. In 1947, Hadfield’s (India) was acquired by British Paints (Holdings) Ltd and came to be known as British Paints (India) Ltd. In 1983, it was renamed Berger Paints India.


GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals was founded on 13 November 1924 in India as H.J. Foster and Co. Ltd as an agency house to distribute baby food. In 1950, it changed its name to Glaxo Laboratories (India) Ltd and registered itself as a limited company in 1968. In 2001, it merged with SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals (India) Ltd to form GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals.


Founded by two Scotsmen, Stephen George Balmer and Alexander Lawrie, in Kolkata Balmer Lawrie and Co. started as a partnership firm on 1 February 1867. Today, Balmer Lawrie is a miniratna-I public sector enterprise with a presence in manufacturing (steel barrels, industrial greases and specialty lubricants) and services (corporate travel and logistics services).


Karnataka Bank was incorporated on 18 February 1924 at Mangalore in Karnataka. Later, it merged with Sringeri Sharada Bank Ltd, Chitradurga Bank Ltd and Bank of Karnataka. In 2000, the bank signed an MoU with Infosys Technologies Ltd (now Infosys) to develop the core-banking solution, Finacle.


In 1925, the Raymond Group set up its first woollen mill in Thane, Maharashtra. In 1958, the first exclusive Raymond retail showroom was opened in Mumbai. 10 years later, Raymond opened its ready-made garments plant at Thane. Today, it is the leader in the ready-made garments sector in India, with a turnover of Rs200 crore.


Established in 1925, Syndicate Bank was first called Canara Industrial and Banking Syndicate. The primary objective was to assist local weavers. In 1967, the bank launched an agri card for farmers, a first of its kind. In 1975, it sponsored the first regional rural bank in India.


Registered on 27 January 1926, Hindustan Construction Company built its first dam and bridge only in 1954, the Vaitarna Dam (Mumbai) and the railway bridge across the Torsa river (Assam). Other works include the Farakka Barrage in West Bengal and Idukki dam in Kerala.

Lakshmi Vilas Bank was founded and incorporated in 1926 by seven businessmen of Karur district in Tamil Nadu. On 11 August 1958, it became a scheduled commercial bank.


The South Indian Bank was founded by 44 men of Thrissur in Kerala who contributed Rs500 each as capital. It has the third largest branch network among private sector banks in India, and was the first private sector bank to open a currency chest on behalf of the Reserve Bank of India in April 1992.



Incorporated in 1930, Vazir Sultan Tobacco Industries is India’s third-largest cigarette maker. It makes cigarettes under the brand names Charms, Charminar, Gold, Moments and Zaffran, among others. Its name was later changed to VST Industries Ltd on 30 April 1983.

In 1931, the Lalbhai brothers—Kasturbhai, Narottambhai and Chimanbhai—set up a mill to produce indigenous fabrics. By 1991, the company reached the production mark of 1600 million metres of denim per year and was the world’s third-largest denim maker.


Incorporated as Bata Shoe Co. Pvt. Ltd in 1931, it was set up as a small operation in Konnagar near Kolkata. In January 1934, the foundation stone for the first building of Bata’s operation was laid. Today, it is the largest retailer and leading manufacturer of footwear in India.


Founded as Hindusthan Sugar Mills Ltd, Bajaj Hindusthan Sugar Ltd was started by Jamnalal Bajaj. Its first plant was set up at Golagokarannath, Terai, Uttar Pradesh in 1932. It was renamed Bajaj Hindusthan Sugar Ltd in 1988. During the drought in 2002, the firm’s unit was the first to crush 20 million quintals of cane.


Initially known as Travancore Federal Bank, Federal Bank Ltd was founded by K.P. Hormis in 1931. In 1970, it became a scheduled commercial bank and it went public in 1994. In August 2013, it introduced FedBook, the first electronic passbook launched by a bank in India.



Vijaya Bank was founded on 23 October 1931 by A.B. Shetty, an entrepreneur-politician, along with some farmers in Mangalore, Karnataka. The aim was to promote banking, thrift and entrepreneurship among farmers. It became a scheduled bank in 1958 and was nationalized on 15 April 1980.

Unilever’s Indian subsidiary Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Co., founded in 1931, merged with Lever Brothers India Ltd and United Traders Ltd to form Hindustan Lever Ltd in November 1956. Now known as Hindustan Unilever Ltd, it is India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods firm through various acquisitions, including those of Brooke Bond and Co. India Ltd and Pond’s (India) Ltd.


The establishment of Saraswati Sugar Syndicate Ltd, a subsidiary, marks the beginning of the Indian Sugar and General Engineering Corp. (IGSEC). The engineering division was established in 1946. In 1981, it acquired Uttar Pradesh.


Although Eveready products were marketed in India from 1905, Eveready Industries India was incorporated in 1934 and soon became a leader in the dry cells and flashlight segment. In 1940, Camperdown Works, the first modern battery plant in India was opened at Cossipore in Kolkata. It is the world’s third largest producer of carbon zinc batteries.


Cipla founder Dr K.A. Hamied gave the company the title the Chemical, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Laboratories in 1935 in Mumbai. Later, it became a global icon for defying Big Pharma to provide generic AIDS medication and other drugs. In 1970, it successfully lobbied to change India’s patent laws. Currently, the company is present in 100 countries.

ACC Ltd, formerly the Associated Cement Cos Ltd, was established by merging 10 cement firms. Its first board of directors had some prominent names: J.R.D. Tata, Ambalal Sarabhai, Walchand Hirachand, Dharamsey Khatau and Homy Mody, among others. In 1947, the firm established India’s first indigenous cement plant in Bihar.


Godfrey Phillips India is one of the country’s largest cigarette makers with brands such as Four Square, Red & White, Cavanders and Hawk Eye. Under a licence agreement with Philip Morris of the US, the company also makes and markets Marlboro cigarettes in India.


Colgate Palmolive introduced dental cream to Indians. In 1949, Colgate launched its classic tooth powder and toothbrush and in 1967, manufacturing operations began at Sewri, Maharashtra. In 1978, the firm went public.


In 1937, Crompton Parkinson Ltd founded its wholly-owned Indian unit Crompton Parkinson Works Ltd (CPWL) in Mumbai. Ten years later, it was acquired by L.K. Thapar. In 1966, CPWL and its sales wing merged to create Crompton Greaves Ltd. After the acquisition of Belgium-based Pauwels Trafo/Pauwels Group in May 2005, Crompton Greaves became one of the world’s top 10 electrical transformer makers. Now it is known as CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd


Tata Investment Corp. (TICL) was promoted by Tata Sons Ltd in 1937. The company was closely held till 1959, when it became one of the few publicly held investment firms listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. TICL aided the formation of many firms such as Associated Bearing Co. Ltd (now SKF Bearings (India) Ltd), Ceat Tyres Ltd (now Ceat Ltd), the National Rayon Corp. Ltd, etc.


In 1937, T.M.C.M. Chidambaram Chettiar, an Indian industrialist, founded the Indian Overseas Bank. It opened branches in Myanmar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore within four-five years of establishment. Following nationalization in India in 1969, the bank was forced to look inward and open more rural branches. In 2000, it went public.

Bajaj Electricals was incorporated as Radio Lamp Works Ltd. In 1993, the company entered into a joint venture with Black and Decker Corp. of the US for making power tools and household appliances, but sold its stake in 2012. In November 2002, it tied up with Morphy Richards of the UK for sales and marketing of electrical appliances under their brand name in India.

JK Lakshmi Cement was set up in 1938 in a village in Sirohi district of Rajasthan. The cement made by the company has been used in structures such as the Indira Gandhi Nahar Pariyojna, the Sardar Sarovar Project, the Golden Quadrilateral, and the Mundra and Kandla ports.


Dena Bank was founded on 26 May 1938 by the family of Devkaran Nanjee, an Indian financier more popularly known as C.D. Desai. It was nationalized in 1969. In 1995, it was one of the six public sector banks chosen by the World Bank to sanction a loan of Rs72.3 crore for augmentation of Tier-II capital under the Financial Sector Developmental project.


Founded on 1 October 1938 under letters patent issued by the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, J&K Bank was established as a semi-state bank with participation in capital by the state and the public under the control of state government. In 1971, it acquired the status of a scheduled bank and was declared a Class A bank by the Reserve Bank of India in 1976.


Incorporated on 23 January 1939, Tata Chemicals completed its first chemical works unit—a bromide plant—in 1942. Forty years later, in 1983, India’s first iodized and vacuum-evaporated salt, Tata Salt, was launched. In 1994, a fertilizer plant at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh was completed. In 2008, the company became the world’s second-largest soda ash manufacturer after acquiring US-based General Chemical Industrial Products.



Anand Chandavarkar founded Fairdeal Corp. as a partnership firm and incorporated it as a private limited firm in 1940. In 1949, the first manufacturing unit was set up for manufacturing indigenous formulations and absorbent cotton wool. In 1972, the firm entered into oral rehydration salts with Electral, now a household name. In 1986 it was renamed FDC Ltd.


Though BASF’s first sales figures for India were reported in 1890, it was incorporated only in 1943. The company was involved in the production of textiles at inception but diversified into thermocol and plastics in the 1960s, and into dyes and dispersions in the 1990s. It was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange in 1968 and on the National Stock Exchange in 1995.



In 1943, the entity was incorporated and headquartered in Pollibetta, Karnataka. The parent Edinburgh Co. relinquished its controlling interest in the 1960s and Tata Tea Ltd acquired a controlling interest in 1991-92. In September 1999, Asian Coffee Ltd, Veerarajendra Estates Ltd and Charagni Ltd merged with the firm to form the single largest integrated plantation company in the world. In 2000, it was renamed Tata Coffee.


Rai Bahadur Lala Sohan Lal, the first chairman of Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC), founded it in 1943 in Lahore. During partition, the lender shut its branches in Pakistan and shifted to Amritsar. The bank was nationalized on 15 April 1980. At present, OBC is implementing a Grameen Project—based on the Bangladesh Grameen Bank model—in some districts of Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.


G.D. Birla, the renowned Indian industrialist, founded the United Commercial Bank after the Quit India movement in 1942. As of December 2012, the government held 65% of the bank’s shares after nationalizing it on 19 July 1969. In 1985, it was renamed UCO Bank.

In August 1943, Ratnakar Bank (now known as RBL Bank Ltd) was incorporated as a regional bank in Maharashtra. In August 1959, it was categorized as a scheduled commercial bank. It was listed on the Bombay and National stock exchanges in 2016. It has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a “Global Growth Company”.


Escorts (Agents) was incorporated in 1944. The firm became the largest producer of piston assemblies in India after a collaboration with Mahle of Germany in 1959.It was renamed Escorts Ltd in 1960. Ten years later, a joint venture was formed with the Ford Motor Co. to manufacture Ford tractors in India. In 1984, an agreement was signed with Yamaha to make motorcycles.


Bajaj Holdings and Investment or BHIL (erstwhile Bajaj Auto Ltd) was demerged in 2007 as per a Bombay high court order, whereby its manufacturing unit was transferred to the new Bajaj Auto, and its wind farm and financial services businesses were vested with Bajaj Finserv Ltd. After the demerger, BHIL holds over 30% share each in both firms



Set up in February 1942 in Mumbai, Asian Paints was born out of an opportunity after a temporary ban on paint imports left only foreign firms and Shalimar Paints as competitors. By 1967, it was the leading paints maker in India. In 1954, Gattu, created by cartoonist R.K. Laxman as a mischievous boy holding a paint bucket, was launched as its mascot.

Brothers J.C. and K.C. Mahindra, along with Malik Ghulam Mohammed, set up Mahindra and Mohammed in 1945 as a steel trading firm. When Mohammed emigrated to Pakistan to serve as the country’s first finance minister, it was renamed Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. Later, it began to assemble Willys Jeeps in India and it ventured into light commercial vehicles, agricultural tractors and two-wheelers.

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Tata Motors, formerly Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co., was founded in 1945. It built its first commercial vehicle in 1954 in collaboration with Germany’s Daimler-Benz AG and entered the passenger vehicle market in 1991 with Tata Sierra. In 1998, it launched the first indigenous Indian passenger car, the Indica. In 2004, it bought truck maker Daewoo Commercial Vehicles Co. and Jaguar Land Rover from Ford in 2008.



Wipro was incorporated as Western India Vegetable Products in 1945. The firm went public the next year; it ventured into information technology in 1981. A software products and exports unit, Wipro Systems Ltd, was formed two years later. Indigenous personal computers were developed first by Wipro in 1985 and a joint venture with General Electric Co. was formed in 1989.

Ardeshir was born in 1868 in Mumbai to a Parsi-Zoroastrian family. He was a law student at the time, like many other financially well-off Indians, but the law wasn’t for him, and he returned to India soon after. He then started working as an assistant in a chemist shop, where he developed an interest in manufacturing surgical instruments, which he later turned into his first business. Godrej is a well-known brand in our country, and we’ve all used its appliances or other products at some point in our lives.


 Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Esq.

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Sir Dorabji Tata was the firstborn son of visionary Jamsetji Tata, the Tata group’s founder, and was born on August 27, 1859. Sir Dorabji Tata inherited not only his father’s business acumen, but also his father’s spirit of selflessness and altruism.

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Homi Jehangir Bhabha

Homi Bhabha was an Indian physicist who played a key role in the country’s nuclear energy program. Bhabha’s contribution to the development of atomic energy made him a well-known figure in scientific circles around the world. In 1955, he presided over the United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, and from 1960 to 1963, he presided over the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

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 Jamsetji Tata

Jamsetji Tata was another one of the famous Parsis of India. He is an entrepreneur who helped India join the ranks of the developed world. He was a patriot and a humanitarian whose ideals and vision shaped an extraordinary business empire. In the 1870s, the Tata group’s founder started with a textile mill in central India. His vision fueled India’s steel and power industries, laid the groundwork for technical education, and aided the country’s ascension into the ranks of developed nations.

Source: Wikimedia

How the East India Company became the world’s most powerful business

At the dawn of the 17th century, the Indian subcontinent was known as the “East Indies,” and—as home to spices, fabrics, and luxury goods prized by wealthy Europeans—was seen as a land of seemingly endless potential. Due to their seafaring prowess, Spain and Portugal held a monopoly on trade in the Far East. But Britain wanted in, and when it seized the ships of the defeated Spanish Armada in 1588, it paved the way for the monarchy to become a serious naval power.

In 1600, a group of English businessmen asked Elizabeth I for a royal charter that would let them voyage to the East Indies on behalf of the crown in exchange for a monopoly on trade. The merchants put up nearly 70,000 pounds of their own money to finance the venture, and the East India Company was born.

The corporation relied on a “factory” system, leaving representatives it called “factors” behind to set up trading posts and allowing them to source and negotiate for goods. Thanks to a treaty in 1613 with the Mughal emperor Jahangir, it established its first factory in Surat in what is now western India. Over the years, the company shifted its attention from pepper and other spices to calico and silk fabric and eventually tea, and expanded into the Persian Gulf, China, and elsewhere in Asia.

Picture this,

British East India Company = A

Indians = B

A comes to the land of B and find abundance of raw materials of textiles, food products and spices. A sees how Indians used most of those products in a generic fashion. A says, let me take these things to my hometown, I’ve great tools and machineries to fine tune and create great quality, fine tuned end products, B says, no I’m fine with what I make out of them and use.

A starts whipping B. A then force stops all mills and generic factories. A then buys ₹10 worth of raw materials at ₹1 and then ships it to their own land and does basic manipulation and processing, brings back the processed good and sells it to B at ₹1,000 (yes, pricing and taxation would add up to nearly 100–200% of original raw product price and sometimes reaching 1000% of the price they forcibly bought raw product at. A makes quick bucks by repeating the process at scale and become enormously rich.

That’s how they made trade extremely profitable:

a) Buying raw materials at lesser than the already cheap original prices,

b) Shipping them to Britain,

c) Processing them, packaging them,

d) Shipping back to India to sell the same at exorbitant prices.

The trading firm took command of an entire subcontinent and left behind a legacy that still impacts modern life.


From the prehistoric times (from the Indus valley civilisation), India had a flourishing trade relation with other parts of the world. Indian products were highly regarded in the Egyptian and roman empire and fetched high prices in the foreign lands.

The excellent levels of craftsmanship were held in high regard and enjoyed a global reputation. Notable ones are handicrafts and textile industries. Shawls and carpets from Kashmir and Amritsar, silk sarees of Benaras and silk cloth of Nagpur are some examples.


In ancient and medieval times, India excelled in the artistic handicraft industry which includes jewellery made of gold and silver, brass, copper and bell metal wares, marble work, carving works in ivory, wood, stone, artistic glassware etc. All of the above-mentioned items including cinnamon, pepper, opium, indigo etc. constituted a major proportion of exports from India. Effectively, India was exporting high quality manufactured goods to European countries and owned a respectable share in the world economy.


Having established itself well on the world map, pre-colonial India was blooming with opportunities. At the beginning of 19th century (more appropriately the begining of the second half of the 18th century), the share of India in the world economy was around 20% which was steadily increasing. But by the time British left India, the share was reduced to around 4%. Thus, the colonial rule paralyzed the foreign trade also by a large proportion.

Traders: the East India Company & Asia, Image courtsey – Pinterest

After the arrival of British, these industries were destroyed slowly as Britishers followed the process of de-industrialisation of Indian industries to make way for British industries to flourish. Lets discuss in details.

Devastating effects of the Colonial rule on Indian Industries and Trade:

1.The decay of Handicraft Industries: The traditional handicraft industries in India which were flourishing and was known worldwide were completely and systematically de-industrialised and devastated under the British rule as they stopped the handicraft export by placing tariffs on exports.

The Primary motive of British East India Company behind de-industrialization was two-fold

(i) To make India a net exporter of Raw material to the British Industries.

(ii) To sell British products at a higher rate in the Indian market.

They also followed certain Discriminatory Tariff poll to prevent the export of Indian products worldwide. Discriminatory Tariff policy signifies free export of raw material from India and Import of Finished product from Britain while placing a heavy duty on Export of Indian handicrafts to any other countries.

Also, there was stiff competition from the machine-made products which were imported at a high price from Britain as a result of rapid industrialisation and access to cheap raw material from India and other colonies of Britain. With the introduction of Railways, the reach of British products increased to every corner of the country. All these factors led to the downfall of textile and handicraft industries in India.

2. Slow Growth of Modern Industries: The Colonial rulers never permitted modernization nor did they encourage the growth of Industries. Unbalanced and lopsided growth structure was a legacy of British rule in India.

Besides, there was a scarcity of basic and heavy industries that hindered the growth as capital goods industries were lacking.Capital goods industry refers to the industry which produces goods such as machines, tools, etc. which are further capable of producing consumer goods.

Primary objective of the British rulers was to develop such an industry in India which would never be able to compete with the British Industry rather be dependent upon British industry for capital goods.

3. Suez Canal: Additionally, the opening of Suez Canal intensified this control over Indian foreign trade by the British rulers.

Opening of the suez Canal, Image coutsey – Christine Trent

4. British Empire Exhibition: The British Empire Exhibition was a colonial exhibition held at Wembley Park, Wembley, England from 23 April 1924 to 31 October 1925. The British Empire Exhibition was a venture designed to promote the benefits of empire to the wider British public. The exhibition was opened in 1924 and after an initial run of six months it reopened in 1925. The main objective was to showcase manufactured goods, arts and crafts, as well as historical artefacts from each of the Dominions, the Indian Empire and Britain’s African and Caribbean colonies. A cultural events programme accompanied the exhibition, as well as a series of conferences. This might not be a process by which the Colonial rulers actually exploited trade but it shows how Britain flaunted its colonial wealth and dominance thereby encouraging its internal market.

Advertisement for the Indian Pavilion and British Empire Exhibition. Image courtsey – British Library

Image courtsey – Wikipedia

Hence the above points will cleary explain how and why the British East India Company and later the British Raj exploited the trade and industrial machinery of India.

At 70, India has come a long way from the country the British exited in 1947, and which they believed (and hoped) would not survive in its then form. India has since evolved into a vibrant constitutional democracy and made rapid strides in several domains (although there is a lot of work still to be done).

Over the next few days, to mark the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, Mint will profile 70 milestones across the years, and across domains—politics, business, entertainment and sport. Put together by Mint’s reporters and editors, these entirely subjective listings are far from comprehensive, as is only to be expected when one is dealing with the seven-decade-old post-independence history of a country as large and complex as India

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