In the early-1980s, almost a decade before the economy was liberalised, an ambitious project – linked in the popular imagination with Sanjay Gandhi, son of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – started taking shape. Unfortunately, Sanjay died in a plane crash in June 1980, without realising his dream of bringing out an affordable, efficient and indigenous small car that would appeal to the middle class, but not burn a hole in their pockets. He was not there to see his dream fructify with the creation of Maruti Udyog Ltd (now called Maruti Suzuki) – a unique joint venture between Japan’s Suzuki Motor Co. and the Indian government.
The new company singlehandedly made India mobile and modernised the local industrial landscape, thanks to the clockwork precision of Japanese management and process systems. Right from the day it opened bookings on April 9, 1983, Maruti had the pulse of Indian buyers in its grasp. The opening orders crossed 1.35 lakh units (big even by today’s standards) by June 8, or just two months.
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