Monday, April 19, 2010

The Maruti story

As many of you might have noticed, praise for Maruti products has been limited on this page. Some not so great Suzuki products are to be blamed.

But here goes a big salute to Maruti Udyog and the creators.. For what it did for the nation, how they changed the industry..

R.C. Bhargava has never got the credit he deserved. His efforts made Maruti and the indian manufacturing industry world class. However people have heard more of Mr. Khattar than him. Not that Mr. Bhargava is a media hungry fellow. On the contrary- his humble nature is seen in this book. In a book of 300+ pages, only a few lines highlight his own efforts. It's more of 'we' than 'I'.

The story is quite gripping when there are instances which suggest that the common man's Maruti 800 could've been the Renault R-15, Ford laser, Mitsubishi Colt, or a Rover instead had Suzuki not jumped in as the last moment collaborator and technology partner..

Quality for the common man: We all know Maruti operated in an era when the only competition was from aging Ambassador and Padmini. Maruti could still have been insanely profitable had the 800 been moderately better than it's competition. We car starved Indians would still have been happy. Yet the leadership team were obsessed wit the best methods of production and technology putting the Maruti products in a differnt league altogether.

PSU Challenge: While the government backed the project initially (thanks to Indira Gandhi's emotional links) and steamrolled many barriers for setting it up, political pressure posed many challenges. Keeping recruitment, vendor selection processes free from politicians' referrals was no easy task. When the management did not select a politician's relative as the vendor, they were rewarded with CBI enquiries, legal action, etc.

Revolutionizing the Industry: PSU's were the only option for fresh graduates and their inefficiencies are no secret. The new PSU called Maruti udyog changed the rules of the game. It became a benchmark for the private sector and in some way also led to its evolution. Sadly, while the private sector was ready to learn, other PSU's were not interested in these lessons.

The interesting aspect is developing the vendors: who till then were ill-treated by their customers (Premier and HM). The company undertook vendor development plans as a priority. It deserves credit for overhauling the entire production industry. Bharat Forge, Shriram, MRF are classic examples of cases where companies chose to cater to the revolutionary quality and are currently considered leaders in the world market.

The list is endless. I’d rate this book 9/10. A must read..

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