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  • Writer's pictureNishant Mittal

8th book of 2020: Havells, The untold story of Qimat Rai Gupta

Not enough is said about Indian brands and how they came about. After Independence, India governed a Command Economy with a Quota system for imports, i.e. Government handled most of the production and set a fixed quota on things that could be imported. This meant that there were limits to how much you could import, manufacture, and sell. Despite all those restrictions, licenses, bureaucratic hurdles, etc. - India produced companies like Havells. This is nothing short of miraculous. What's sad is that we were never taught (or even told) about these miracles or struggles (however you look at them). Even now most Indian kids aspire to be Babus when this country has actually been built on the back of these Entrepreneurs. What a travesty.


Qimat Rai Gupta or QRG started out as a trader of Electrical Equipments at Bhagirath Palace (Delhi). The journey from there to a $3 Billion global company is frankly just extraordinary. There are far too many things and instances to quote in this story, so I won't even try. I'll just write two words for it: "foresight" and "persistence". Oh! I missed an important one - it's called "luck". Here's an interesting anecdote:


The brand Havells originally belonged to someone called Haveli Ram and was later bought by QRG. Haveli Ram's business had been booming for a long time and he gave a lot of credit to his wife. He thought she was his "lucky charm". Unfortunately, she died and he lost the zest to live soon after. His son (studying abroad at the time) was called over to run the business but he couldn't handle it and committed suicide. Haveli Ram, once a rich and thriving businessman was left in a state you wouldn't like to imagine. In one of the last meetings with QRG, he asked for Rs. 100 so he could buy some drinks. This is why I mentioned "luck", if you remember.


When the book began, I wasn't impressed at all. It sounded like a PR push. But I didn't abandon it and that's my good fortune. By the end of it, my mind was literally blown to pieces.




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