Two World Wars, the Great Depression, India's independence struggle, the Hindu rate of growth, the licence-permit raj, controls on foreign exchange and expansion, and the reforms of the 1990s: a handful of Indian companies have seen it all, and adapted along the way to do well.
Dive into the exciting journey of these intrepid survivors.
BENNETT, COLEMAN & CO.(1838)
In this pic: R.K. Laxman's The Common Man. Times of India soon became synonymous with Laxman's cartoons that capture the travails of the aam aadmi.
1838: The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce starts as a bi-weekly newspaper and becomes a daily 12 years later
1890: After a few mergers and name changes, The Times of India is born, and is bought by Henry Curwen in partnership with Charles Kane
1892: After Curwen's death, T.J. Bennett becomes editor. The Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, or BCCL, is formed
1907: In the first of its price wars, The Times of India cuts price from four annas to one anna. Its circulation rises five times
1934: Seth Ramkrishna Dalmia buys out BCCL for Rs 2 crore; sells it to son-in-law Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain two years later
1940: For the first time, TOI publishes news items on its front page
1961: The Economic Times is launched
1987: Samir Jain takes charge as Vice Chairman of BCCL.
2004: Launches Times Private Treaties, an equity initiative for ad inventory. Enters TV business with lifestyle and entertainment channel
2006: Launches TV news channel Times NOW; follows with business channel ET NOW in 2009
2010: Launches ET Wealth; Movies NOW, India's first HD-only premium movie channel; relaunches the Sunday ET as a tabloid
Acknowledgment: We thank and acknowledge the following for access to their records and permission to use images from their archives and publications: Allahabad Bank; Andrew Yule; Bank of Baroda; Britannia; Bennett, Coleman & Co; CESC, Century Textiles; Dabur; Godrej Archives; Indian Hotels; ITC; Jessop; Kirloskar; Saregama; Shalimar Paints; Tata Steel; TVS & Sons; The Statesman.
In this pic: Nehru peers at The Times of India with Indira Gandhi at his side. The Rs 5,500-crore empire that BCCL is today started as the twice a-week The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, owned by a set of 11 British firms, two barristers and a doctor, and aimed at the business community in Bombay.
In this pic: Nusli Wadia(inset) is the largest shareholder of the biscuit-making giant.
1892: A biscuit-making operation begins in a small house in Calcutta with an investment of Rs 295
1897: The business is acquired by Gupta brothers
1918: Englishman C.H. Holmes partners with Gupta brothers, and Britannia is incorporated
1921: Britannia becomes the first company east of the Suez to use gas ovens
1939-45: Britannia supplies biscuits to soldiers during World War II
1983: Sales cross Rs 100 crore
1993: Nusli Wadia of Bombay Dyeing takes control from Britannia Chairman Rajan Pillai, with the help of French food giant Danone
2009: Wadia buys out Danone and emerges the largest shareholder
In this pic: Way back in 1931, CESC engineers built a tunnel under the Hooghly river in Kolkata to carry electric lines
1897: London registered company, The Indian Electric Co., gets a licence for Calcutta through its agent, Kilburn & Co. A month later, the company changes its name to Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation. An advertisement of electric table fans, which were in huge demand.
1898: CESC begins supplying electricity on a trial basis to the Bank of Bengal (later to become SBI), the Bengal Club and several private residences
1899: First generating station starts, marks the beginning of thermal power generation in India
1931: Tunnel built under the Hooghly river to carry power to the other bank. Still functional
1978: CESC becomes a rupee company with a new name: Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (India)
1997: First unit of 3x250 MW Budge Budge power plant synchronised
CENTURY TEXTILES & INDUSTRIES(1897)
In this pic: A collage of the the Birlas-Rameshwar Das, Ghanshyam Das, Basant Kumar, Aditya Vikram and Kumar Mangalam, a copy of the 1953 annual report of Century Textiles and Maihar plant that which contributes 40% to revenues today.
1897: Founded by Nowrosjee N. Wadia, comprises just one textile mill
1930: Chunilal Mehta acquires the company from the Wadias
1945: R.D. Birla starts buying Century's shares on the market, wrests complete control in 1951
1973: Diversifies into cement (Maihar plant, right), which contributes 40% to revenues today
1988: Diversifies into shipping, but exits it completely by 2005
1993: Enters paper business
2002: Forays into the branded ready-to-wear-segment
In this pics: Seated: R.C. Burman (left) and Ashok C. Burman; Standing from left: Mohit Burman, Sidharth Burman, Vivek C. Burman, Pradip Burman, Amit Burman, late Gyan C. Burman and Anand Burman
1884: Established by Dr S. K. Burman in Calcutta. In 1896, first production unit set up at Garia, Calcutta
1919: First R&D unit established
1936: Dabur (Dr S. K. Burman) Pvt. Ltd. incorporated
1949: Launches Dabur Chyawanprash in tin pack. It becomes the first branded Chyawanprash in India
1970: Enters oral care and digestive segment
1978: Launches Hajmola tablet
1994: Comes out with public issue
1996: Enters foods business with Real Fruit Juice
1998: Burman family hands over management of the company to professionals
2000: Dabur becomes market leader with a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore.
Dabur's first manufacturing unit in Sahibabad, following the shift to Delhi.
Dabur advertisements featuring actors Sridevi and Shriram Lagoo.
GODREJ & BOYCE
In this pic: Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej with Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, Godrej & Boyce. Behind them in black is a new-age Godrej safe
1897: Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co Ltd is established. Ardeshir Godrej (in photo) starts manufacturing high-security locks, under the brand name Anchor
1902: Company starts building safes as well
1909: Ardeshir Godrej invents the springless lock, gets a patent, for it under the seal of King Edward VII
1932: Godrej & Boyce is incorporated as a limited liability company. Ardeshir dies in 1936
1951: Company secures order to manufacture 900,000 ballot boxes for independent India's fi rst general elections
1955: Godrej & Boyce manufactures the first Indian typewriter. Jawaharlal Nehru types using a Godrej typewriter
1958: Godrej & Boyce, in collaboration with GE, manufactures India's fi rst refrigerator
1963: Godrej & Boyce makes the fi rst forklift Truck in India in collaboration with Clarke Material Handling Company, US
1965: Godrej & Boyce opens a factory in Malaysia to manufacture offi ce equipment
1972: Pirojsha Godrej, Ardeshir's brother, consolidator of the Godrej empire, dies
1997: Special postage stamp released to commemorate 100 years of Godrej's existence
Pirojsha Godrej inspects the estate he bought in Vikhroli, Mumbai, where the Godrej Group is now headquartered
An advertisement for India's first refrigerator made by Godrej & Boyce.
In this pic: Ratan Tata at the reopening of the heritage wing of the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai after it was damaged in the 26/11 attack.
1902: J.N. Tata incorporates the Indian Hotels Company
1903: Indian Hotels opens its first hotel, Taj Mahal Palace, in Mumbai, opposite the Gateway of India
1974: The group opens its first resort, Fort Aguada Beach Resort, in Goa
1980: The group ventures abroad with the Taj Sheba in Sanaa, Yemen
1997: Ratan Tata takes over as Chairman
2003: The flagship property is rebranded as Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. Raymond Bickson takes over as the first expat CEO
2004: The first Ginger budget hotel comes up in Bangalore
November 26, 2008: The Taj is damaged in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, and closes for renovation
2009: The Vivanta by Taj brand is launched in the Maldives
2010: The renovated heritage wing of the Taj, Mumbai, reopens; US President 1997 Obama visits
The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, and the Gateway of India.
In this pic: ITC Maurya, New Delhi
1910: The Imperial Tobacco Company is registered in Calcutta
1911: Stall set up at the Delhi Darbar to promote Scissors, one of ITC's early cigarette brands
1971: ITC starts era of brand sponsorship of sporting events
1974: Name changed to ITC Limited
1975: Enters hotels business
1996: Enforcement raids on ITC, top officials arrested, including two former chairmen
1998: ITC exits financial services business, selling ITC Classic Finance to ICICI; exits edible oils business
2000: Launches e-Choupal initiative
2003: Starts launching flurry of non-cigarettes FMCG
2011: Reports post tax profi t of Rs 4,988 crore on net turnover of Rs 21,168 crore
In this pic: The improved version of charkha was built at Kirloskarvadi by Charkha specialist Ganesh Bhaskar Kale (right) and placed at Gandhi's Wardha ashram.
1914: WW I hits raw material imports, halts production. Iron furniture by Kirloskars
1940: Company manufactures India's first lathe
1958: Kirloskars begin exports. The family gathers to celebrate another milestone
1969: Factory at Kuala Lumpur begins operations. Assembly of hand pumps at Kirloskarvadi
1973: Large-scale exports of pumps to Europe begins. Pump manufactured by Kirloskars
2003: Kirloskar Brothers acquires SPP Pumps in England
2007: Sardar Sarovar project's pumping scheme, using Kirloskar pumps, commissioned
The brand of paint that coats the Howrah Bridge(in the pic) has seen three ownership changes.
1902: Two Britons - A.N. Turner and A.N. Wright - set up Colour & Varnish Company in Howrah, West Bengal. It is the fi rst paint manufacturing plant in the South East Asia
1928: UK-based Pinchin Johnson & Associates acquires Shalimar Paint Colour & Varnish - its new name - and makes it a part of its Red Hand Composition Company
1961: Shalimar Paints becomes a public limited company
1964: International Paints acquires US-based Red Hand Composition. Ownership changes hands again
1973: Problems surface with the FERA regulation as the company is majority owned by foreigners
1989: Company sold to O.P. Jindal Group and the Jhunjhunwalas. Both jointly manage the company
2003: Acquires the American Paints unit in Sikandrabad near Delhi
2008: Enters into technical collaboration with KCI, Korea for pre-coated metal coatings
The 1926 heritage building at Kirloskarvadi; now a design, planning and R&D department.
Paint is collected in drums at the Howrah plant for distribution
In the pic: The first steel ingot is produced in 1912
1902: J.N. Tata seeks the help of geologist Charles Page Perin to identify a site rich in resources such as iron and coal, to build India's first steel plant. The search starts in what is now Madhya Pradesh
1907: The team finally chooses Sakchi village in present-day Jharkhand, which has since grown into the steel town of Jamshedpur
1908: The plant becomes operational
1920: Company introduces leave with pay. It became mandatory only in 1945
1928-29: Company introduces maternity benefit scheme
1934: Becomes the first company in the country to grant profit-sharing bonus
1938: After the deal J.R.D. Tata succeeds N.B. Saklatvala as Chairman of the company
1984-85: Russi Mody takes over as new chairman. J.R.D. Tata becomes Chairman Emeritus
1992: J.J. Irani becomes MD
1993: Russi Mody is ousted. Ratan Tata takes over
2005: Tata Steel acquires Singaporebased Nat Steel
2007: Tata Steel wins the bid for European steel maker Corus. Ratan Tata after the deal
In ths pic: Founder T. V. Sundaram Iyengar with wife Lakshmi Ammal
1911: TVS & Sons is established in Madurai, Tamil Nadu
1912: The company starts its first business, a rural bus service
1919: TVS forays into vehicle sales, service and spare parts. A mangled car sent for servicing
1929: Bags dealership for General Motors
1943: The company designs a unique plant that runs on charcoal gas instead of petrol
1954: Sundaram Finance is floated to finance buses and trucks
1960: The group sets up Wheels India in Chennai, and starts making car parts
1969: The transport service is nationalised
1996: The group enters the logistics business. By 2004, it would be hived off as a separate company
2011: At age 100, the TVS group consists of 40-odd companies, with more than 25,000 employees and aggregate revenues of over $4 billion
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