Tata Consultancy Services
Inheritance of Management Philosophy (Viewpoint of a Management Anthropologist)
by – Dr. Noriya Sumihara
( Translated from the original Japanese into English by TCS)
Tata Consultancy Services
Inheritance of Management Philosophy (Viewpoint of a Management Anthropologist)
by – Dr. Noriya Sumihara
( Translated from the original Japanese into English by TCS)
This is the story of a feisty entrepreneur who paired business acumen with a higher purpose, and proved to the world that Made in India brands can stand the test of time.
For various reasons, including unimpeachable integrity, Ardeshir Godrej’s career as a lawyer never took off. And so, in 1895, he set up a company to make surgical equipment. But when his most prominent client refused to accept a “Made in India” branding on the tools, Ardeshir backed out. Two years later, Godrej went on to set up a lock-making factory which gave him his first taste of success.
At the turn of the century, Godrej got involved in the Indian freedom struggle. Among the many things that piqued his interest was soaps. Now, soap is a relatively modern invention—the first soap was manufactured in Europe some time in the 19th Century. Ardeshir noted that all soap used animal fat, a substance deeply resented by a large section of the Indian population. (The Mutiny of 1857 was triggered by the use of fat in rifle cartridges, remember?).
Up until then, it was considered impossible to substitute lard and tallow in the soap-making process. But Ardeshir seized upon the opportunity and in 1919, launched the world’s first pure-vegetarian soap, made from vegetable oil extracts. The brand was called Chavi, a nod to Godrej’s lock-making venture, and was pitched as cruelty-free and a Swadeshi alternative to sacrilegious foreign soaps. Naturally, it worked.
Godrej also had another marketing trick up his sleeve. The first Chavi brand of soaps carried the tag “Godrej No. 2”. And why not “no.1”? “If people find No.2 so good, they will believe No.1 to be even better when it launches,” Godrej reportedly said. Three years later, he launched Godrej no.1, and proved himself right.
By this time, Mahatma Gandhi’s Swadeshi Movement was in full steam, and Godrej was an active contributor to the cause. While several leaders believed that Indians must adopt homegrown products even if they were inferior, Godrej believed this wasn’t sustainable, and that Indian entrepreneurs must up their game and offer comparable quality to consumers. On this, he publicly crossed swords with some of the leaders.
However, Gandhi deeply appreciated Adershir’s contribution to the struggle. Perhaps why he rejected a request for an endorsement from a rival soapmaker. “I hold my brother Godrej in such high regard… if your enterprise is likely to harm him in any way, I regret very much I cannot give you my blessings,” he wrote. (Another reason could have been that Gandhi himself didn’t use soap—not in the latter half of his life at least. For more than 25 years, he used a stone scrub gifted by his associate Miraben. That’s a story for another time.)
But another national icon did endorse Godrej No.1. It was the man who gave Gandhi the title of Mahatma. “I know of no foreign soaps better than Godrej’s and I will make a point of using it,” read the ad starring Rabindranath Tagore.
The Guru wasn’t the only one to swear by Godrej No.1. Dr Annie Besant and C Rajagopalachari also endorsed the Swadeshi soap.
Now, over a hundred years after it was launched, Godrej No.1 is among the most popular soap brands in India, with over 380 million bars sold each year. It is among the longest-running Swadeshi brands. And it all began with one man who truly believed in the power of Make in India.
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Much before India became independent and Anand Milk Union Limited started the Amul revolution, Polson became India’s first commercially made butter.
Launched by Parsi entrepreneur Pestonji Edulji Dalal in 1900, Polson was initially a coffee manufacturing company. It diversified into the butter business when a customer complained that there wasn’t enough butter for the armed forces. It set up its first dairy in Kaira, Gujarat.
By the 1930s, Polson dominated the butter business in India.
“The brand was well distributed and advertised. So much so that Polson became a generic word for butter around the 1950s and 1960s,” advertising and marketing expert Navroze Dhondy said.
Polson’s butter was salty, but nothing to write home about.
So, the marketing strategy had to make up for the taste. And it did.
Polson started offering gift coupons with each purchase, which could be collected and redeemed to buy toasters or mixers.
It was marketed as butter that children loved. “Guard their health and give them the best,” the ad read.
Polson’s brand connect was huge, pointed out brand and marketing consultant Harish Bijoor. “It was about wholesomeness, it was local and Indians trusted and loved it,” he said, adding that Polson’s image kept growing until the late 1960s when Amul entered the market.
If in the early 1900s Polson’s competition was households who were making their own butter, after the 1960s it was Amul.
“Most housewives and mothers would churn milk to make butter, buying butter was an alien concept,” pointed out an advertising consultant.
The butter, with its not so pocket-friendly pricing, was targeted at the affluent and Anglo Indians. “It was almost like a status symbol to have bought butter at home. Mind you these were the days when few homes had refrigerators,” Dhondy said.
The downfall of the brand started when Amul entered the market.
Dairy farmers in the country were in a deplorable condition. Dairy engineer Verghese Kurien was entrusted with the responsibility of spearheading the co-operative movement that went on to become the mammoth Amul. In the beginning, Amul found it difficult to beat Polson because Indians were used to the Polson taste.
But Amul’s branding and quality was far superior and Polson was soon wiped out of the market.
Bijoor pointed out that part of the problem was Polson’s own creation. “Polson thought small,” he said, adding that the brand may be dead but its recall value is still “huge” with many Indians.
At his tiny workshop on Pune-Ahmednagar Road, 84-year-old Captain Rustom Bharucha is getting ready to attend a 2 pm conference call with officials at Hella India, after which he will be meeting Bharat Forge officials who have shown an interest in his design of a portable ventilator. A team of scientists from some institutions in the city have already digitised his design, while small manufacturers have been incessantly calling him at the workshop number. The ‘Bharucha ventilator’, as he terms it, has been sold since the 1990s to nearly 150 individual doctors and hospitals.
Bharucha, who cycles 20 km to the city’s interior to pick up raw materials like aluminum sheets, iron bars and 80 other components, and then assembles them at his tiny workshop, has also caught the attention of Dr. Prashant Jha, who is treating coronavirus patients in London.
Nick Booker, co-founder of OpenBreath.tech, a network of doctors and engineers across the world, says in the in the foreword of Bharucha’s manual ‘Introduction to Ventilator Therapy’ that they wanted to understand more about his work. “Humanity is facing a big challenge but many ideas come from everywhere across the world. This manual and the machines built by Captain Bharucha are packed with ideas and can inspire you to help others breathe again,” writes Booker.
Bharucha, who has a BSc degree from Gujarat University in 1955, used to spend his spare time at the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and worked for India Radio and Electronics Corporation, assembling wireless sets for the police, and then at Century Rayon as an electrical apprentice. He joined the Territorial Army and was in charge of the wireless detachment supporting the first Maratha Inf battalion during the Goa operation.
He left at the age of 29 and started his own outfit to repair medical devices. In 1965, he was persuaded by his late brother Dr. Pervez to quickly design a pulse monitor that can detect cardiac arrest during surgery. His work was recognised soon, and he developed a telethermometer with rectal, skin and myocardial probes, apnea monitor for neonates and micronephelometer for lipid profile, and then an anaesthetic ventilator and advanced portable ventilator for critical patients.
His work was appreciated by the faculty at IIT Mumbai and Department of Instrumentation Science at Pune University. “With no formal degree in engineering, and going about my work by riding a bicycle… this made people wonder how I could have designed a ventilator,” he said, adding that he was nominated for a life time achievement award in medical instrumentation by the DRDO but was later rejected.
In the late 1970s, Dr. Ashok Kanetkar, a cardiac surgeon in Pune, urgently requested Bharucha to go to the Aundh Chest Hospital where a patient’s chest was open and the ventilator had stopped working. “I remember, within 10 minutes, I had fixed the fault,” Bharucha says.
Since then, he has been engaged in making ventilators, some of which he sold to individual doctors and hospitals at Latur and Aurangabad.
Dr. Sanjeev Deshpande, an anaesthetist who works at multiple hospitals in Aurangabad, said that despite limitations, the ventilator was useful during surgery.
In 2003, the Tata Consultancy Services sent a German team to visit his workshop and he received an order for 49 ventilators for rural Maharashtra. “The ventilator became popular and was used during the treatment of snakebite, scorpion bite and other poisoning cases,“ he said.
With the number of cororonavirus cases crossing 1,000 in India, an effort — called COVID 19 Ventilator project – is being coordinated by the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture – where several industrial houses are joining hands to get everyone on the same page.
Prakash Chhabria, chairman of Finolex Industries Limited, told The Indian Express that there were some brilliant minds in the city and his role was to bring together this group of doctors and engineers. “I have interacted with pulmonologists like Dr. Arvind Bhome and scientists like Prof L S Shashidhara who have a studied approach on the issue. These doctors and scientists guiding our engineers was the aim,” said Chabbria.
At MCCIA, Vice President Deepak Karandikar said, “There is also likely to be a shortage of personal protective equipment and ventilators and we are hoping to put our might together and work on a design that is compliant with what the medical fraternity’s needs. There are various persons who are making ventilators and this is a tricky process… There are lot of members who are actually employing whatever they can to finalise a perfect design. Everyone is on the platform – we are taking help from any source – Captain Bharucha’s ventilator is a very good starting point and will have to be upgraded before use”.
Dr. Arvind Bhome, a pulmonologist and intensivist for the past 40 years who had started India’s first ever mechanical ventilation workshop as the then chairman of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, told The Indian Express that he has known Captain Bharucha for over 30 years. “Captain Bharucha is an honest and excellent human being. He is not trying to sell the ventilator but wants to share his knowledge of what goes into the making of a ventilator with anyone and everyone. The Bharucha Ventilator is a robust model that can work on a simple electric connection and can be operated manually. However, this model is more suited for peripheral areas and in desperate situations can be used to ventilate patients while transporting them from villages to nearby hospitals”.
Industrial firms have connected with Captain Bharucha. “Baba Kalyani — chairman and MD of Bharat Forge – did ask me whether the ventilator can help COVID-19 patients. I have said that it is a noiseless, genuine and innovative product but cannot generate pressure of more than 20 cm of water and hence the motor would not be sufficient to ventilate patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The motor should be able to generate pressure in the range of 5 to 60 and the patient should not be delivered pressure of more than 40. To increase the motor’s capacity, it would need multiple valves, metatronics to make it safe for the patient,” Dr. Bhome told The Indian Express.
He, however, pointed out that the model is safe to run at primary health care centres and can ventilate people with healthy lungs. “Modern electronic ventilators are not cheap but since we are dealing with a fast-spreading infectious disease , there is a need to design a safe ventilators so that healthcare providers do not catch the infection”.
A bottle of Pallonji’s raspberry soda comes with this helpful disclaimer: “Contains no fruit.” Electric red in colour, and syrupy sweet to the taste, the raspberry soda is a beloved cultural icon of India’s fast-disappearing Parsi community – as well as the endangered Irani cafes in the western city of Mumbai.
It is pure, fizzy nostalgia.
But peer more closely into one of Pallonji’s ancient glass bottles and you can discern a story of much greater significance: how Parsis helped shape India’s taste for soft drinks.
Over the past two centuries, Parsis were instrumental in popularising and producing carbonated beverages in India, laying the foundations for what is today a $8bn (£6.9bn) industry.
Soda had become a popular beverage in London by the early 1800s. Companies such as Schweppes sold plain carbonated water, advertising it as a health elixir. Other firms experimented with flavoured variants such as lemon, orange, and raspberry.
Inevitably, soda found its way from the heart of the empire to India, where it was a luxury item for Britons in the subcontinent. In 1837, Henry Rogers, a chemist in Mumbai, set up what was likely western India’s first “aerated water” factory.
Rogers’ product was not simply a refreshing pick-me-up. Before Mumbai completed its modern waterworks in the late 19th Century, it relied on well water, which was filthy and potentially deadly.
In the best of times, residents complained of drinking muddy liquid that was “very foul both to sight and smell, of a yellowish brown colour”. In the worst of times, hundreds died from cholera outbreaks.
Drinking carbonated water could be a life-saving habit. After all, carbonic acid in soda killed bacteria and viruses.
This was even more the case after the invention of carbonated tonic water in 1858, which contained quinine to ward off malaria.
Parsis sensed a commercial opportunity in the new fizzy drinks consumed by their colonial masters. Many were already involved in businesses that catered to Britons, as commissaries to the army or owners of hotels and “Europe shops” in cities.
They added soda to their inventories. According to community lore, the first Parsi to settle in Ahmednagar – a dusty army outpost in the Deccan – arrived in town with a soda-making apparatus strapped to a mule, with which he slaked the thirst of British soldiers.
By the mid-1800s, Parsis began imbibing the strange drink themselves.
Here, they served as trendsetters for other Indians, who had looked at soda with suspicion.
By Dinyar Patel
It is always an interesting feeling to come across a part of Indian history that has managed to sustain itself through changing regimes, colonisation, independence, and the many, many things that this country has gone through.
So when I came across this Parsi sweet shop, it was amazing to learn of how it had managed to keep itself running for around 200 years now.
In a time, when businesses and startups are starting and closing up in just a couple of years, it is certainly a testament of business ethics and working conditions that has managed to still keep it running till date.
So what is this Parsi shop that has managed to be one of the longest surviving business of India?
The Dutch came to India some time around the 1700s. Their reign wasn’t really that long either, not when in comparison to the British or Portuguese, but they did leave behind a massive impact on the Indian cultural sheet and cuisine. While they were in India they took up a warehouse on Dutch Road in Surat and started a bakery there.
They employed 5 Parsi bakers to do the job, and when they left, they gave over the bakery to one Mr. Faramji Pestonji Dotivala. The now namesake of the much beloved bakery across the city. The Indian Dotivala Bakery was established in 1861, almost 160 years ago.
The Parsi food culture is one big mashup of different traditions and cultures. Their food has hints of Gujarati, Maharashtrian, British and Dutch food.
In fact, their seemingly strange surnames like Cakewala, Confectioner and Paowala and more also originated due to how entwined the community is with the snacks and dessert food group.
The Dotivala Bakery in Surat has taken up the Dutch cuisine and integrated it with their own tradition, creating something truly unique. In its beginning, the Dutch bakery was more geared towards home-sich Dutch people.
But after the Dutch regime came to an end, along with the breads, buscuits and cakes, the bakery also started to create new items for the now Indian customers.
This eventually lead to them creating the rusk-dry Irani khari biscuit, nankhatai biscuit and more such iconic items that are now eaten by people all across the country.
Parsi culinary expert and cookbook author, Niloufer Mavalvala, even recounted how Dotivala initially invented the ‘batasas‘ that are a type of small sized dried bread buns. In her book, ‘The Art of Parsi Cooking’ she revealed that, “Once the Brits too lessened in numbers, the popularity of the bakery diminished, and the wasted loaves were soon distributed to the local poor. Having the advantage of being fermented with an ingredient called toddy (palm wine), there was little chance of the bread ever catching fungus, prolonging the life of this staple yet making it harder in texture and more difficult to eat.”
She then revealed how the fact that doctors suggested it to recovering patients as a good food becuase it was easy to digest while not being either too heavy, oily or spicy.
This eventually lead an increase in their demand, resulting in Dotivala intentionally making such bread buns, using just three simple ingredient, toddy, flour and water.
The shop, even after all these decades, is still running with a few other branches also in existence around the city under the leadership of Cyrus Dotivala, Pestonji’s 6th generation descendant.
Imagine a shop has managed to survive almost 2 centuries and 6 generation changes, while still seemingly giving out good food.