India at 75: These pre-independence companies thrived in independent India
Today, India is a land of opportunities. Global companies, ranging from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to information technology (IT), are working and thriving in this country. For 75 years now, leaders and the citizens of India have worked hard to ensure that the government provides appropriate wealth-generation opportunities to people in business.
Here are ten businesses present at the dawn of India’s independence and continue to flourish even today.
Founded in 1868 by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the Tata Group is among the country’s biggest and most well-known business groups. It was started as a trading company by then 28-year-old Tata. In 1874, he established a textile mill in Nagpur named The Express Mills.
In 1892, Jamsetji founded JN Tata Endowment Fund to help Indian students to study abroad. The philanthropic efforts of this group continue to date.
In 1903, Tata incorporated the Indian Hotels Company. The famous Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai opened to the public. And in 1907, Tata Steel was established in Jamshedpur. It was the first integrated steel plant in Asia.
Today, this company owns big brands like Lipton, Jaguar-Land Rover, Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
Britannia Industries Ltd
Founded in 1892 as a biscuit-manufacturing company in Kolkata, Britannia is today a household name in India. The company mechanised its operations in 1910 and installed ovens in 1921.
It started with a capital of Rs 295 and today has a market cap of over Rs 88,000 crore. It is now under the Wadia Group.
Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd
Founded in 1897 in Mumbai by Ardeshir Godrej, Godrej and Boyce was a pioneer in manufacturing locks in India. The company today manufactures electronic items and furniture and provides engineering solutions, among other things.
It is one of the biggest subsidiaries of the Godrej Group. Today, it employs over 12,000 people. Interestingly, the company manufactured the ballot boxes for the first general elections in India in 1951.
Imperial Tobacco Co Ltd
Founded in 1910 in Kolkata, the company is better known today as ITC. It was primarily set up as a cigarette and leaf tobacco manufacturing company. It entered the printing and packaging business in 1925. Today, ITC is among the biggest FMCG and Hotel companies in India.
Ranging from cigarette brands like Classic and biscuit brands like Sunfeast, the company has reached every house in India. As of March 31, 2022, the company has a gross sales value of Rs 90,104 crore.
Vazir Sultan Tobacco Co (VST)
Founded in 1916 by Vazir Sultan in Hyderabad, VST is today the third-largest cigarette maker in India. The company was listed in 1930. Sultan died in 1923, and Mohammad Sultan became the 1st chairman of VST industries.
It makes brands like Charminar, Gold, Moments and Zaffran. Its name was changed to VST Industries in 1983.
Founded in 1919 by Ghanshyam Das Birla, Birla Jute Manufacturing Co Ltd was among India’s first jute manufacturing companies. Under the chairmanship of Madhav Prasad Birla, the company’s portfolio was diversified to cement, auto trims and vinyl flooring and was called MP Birla Group.
Under the chairmanship of Priyamvada Birla, Madhav’s wife, the company crossed the Rs 1,300 crore turnover mark. In 1998, it was renamed Birla Corp. Today, it is a leading player in India’s textile and cement sectors.
Founded in 1931 by three Lalbhai brothers, Kasturbhai, Narottambhai and Chimanbhai, the company was among the first to produce indigenous fabrics. In 1934, it became the largest producer of textiles in India. In 1991, it became the third largest textile company in the world.
Today, it owns brands like Flying Machine and Cole Ruggers. It also has a joint venture in India with brands like Tommy Hilfiger.
Founded in 1935 by KA Hamied in Mumbai, Chemical, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Laboratories or Cipla was among the first companies to advocate for changes in patent laws. It also provided generic AIDS medication.
Today, it is present in over one hundred countries.
Mahindra and Mahindra
Founded in 1945 by KC Mahindra, JC Mahindra and Malik Ghulam Mohammed as Mahindra and Mohammed, the company was a steel trading firm.
Mohammed went to Pakistan as the country’s first finance minister. The company was renamed Mahindra and Mahindra. Today it is known for its cars, tractors, two-wheelers, and tech business.