Wipro first Indian Company to offer 100% recyclable and toxin-free PCs:
Information technology services corporation Wipro Infotech
has claimed to be the first Indian company to build a 100 percent
With just around a month to go for the re-launch of the East India
Company - the world’s first multinational whose forces once ruled
much of the globe - its new Indian owner says he is overwhelmed by
“a huge feeling of redemption”.
It’s been a long, emotional and
personal journey for Sanjiv Mehta, a Mumbai-born entrepreneur who
completed the process of buying the East India Company (EIC) in 2005
from the “30 or 40″ people who owned it.
Acutely aware that he owned a piece of
history - at its height the company generated half of world trade
and employed a third of the British workforce - Mehta, now the sole
owner, dived into the company’s rich and ruthless past in order to
give it a new direction for the future.
With a $15-million investment and
inputs from a range of experts - from designers and brand
researchers to historians - Mehta is today poised to open the first
East India Company store in London’s upmarket Mayfair neighbourhood
And then there is the inevitable - and
daunting - task of launching in India, a country whose resources,
army, trade and politics the company had controlled for some 200
It’s a task that Mehta has not taken
lightly, he told IANS in an interview. “Put yourself in my shoes for
a moment: On a rational plane, when I bought the company I saw gold
at the end of the rainbow.
“But, at an emotional level as an
Indian, when you think with your heart as I do, I had this huge
feeling of redemption - this indescribable feeling of owning a
company that once owned us.”
The formal start of the East India
Company is usually dated back to 1600 when Britain’s Queen Elizabeth
I granted a group of merchants a charter under the name ‘The Company
of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies.’
With its own Elizabethan coat of arms
- now owned by Mehta - the company was made responsible for bringing
tea, coffee and luxury goods to the West and trading in spices
across the globe.
By 1757 the company had become a
powerful arm of British imperial might, with its own army, navy,
shipping fleets and currency, and control over key trading posts in
India - where it was known variously as Company Bahadur and John
Company. In 1874, the British government nationalised the company,
opportunistically blaming the 1857 uprising on its excesses. But the
East India Company army, brought under the command of the Crown,
retained its all-powerful presence in India.
“When I took over the company, my
objective was to understand its history. I took a sabbatical from
all other business and this became the single purpose in my life,”
He travelled around the world,
visiting former EIC trading posts and museums, reading up records
and meeting people “who understood the business of that time”.
“There was a huge sense of
responsibility - I didn’t create this brand, but I wanted to be as
pioneering as the merchants who created it.”
“The Elizabethan coat of arms stands
for trust and reassurance, but we are not repeating history. It took
me four years to do the brand positioning and put up the
The ‘relaunched’ company, with its
headquarters on Conduit Street in Mayfair, is set to open a diverse
line of high-end, luxury goods in London in March and in India some
time this year.
EIC products in India will include
fine foods, furniture, real estate, health and hospitality.
“India is the spirit of the East India
Company in many ways - it evokes a huge amount of connectivity and
emotions,” Mehta told IANS. “It’s also a major ambition to bring
Indian products to the rest of the world. Today there is no single
brand name from the East that can stand alongside, say, Hermes or
Cartier from the West.
“The East India Company has that
Dipankar De Sarkar can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org