February 21, 2020
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Qimat Rai Gupta (1937-2014) Havells

Long before ‘Make in India’ was a slogan, Qimat Rai Gupta was born in a be-Indian-buy-Indian family!

Qimat Rai Gupta (1937-2014) Havells
Photograph by Getty Images
Qimat Rai Gupta (1937-2014) Havells
  • Havells was a Rs 8,500 crore company in 2015


Long before ‘Make in India’ was a slogan, Qimat Rai Gupta was born in a be-Indian-buy-Indian family. Those were the heady days of the freedom movement and Maha­tma Gandhi’s calls for a boycott of all things foreign—a time when the elites, too, had started spinning the handloom charkha inside their homes. These events propelled the still-young Gupta to buy out the Havells brand name in the 1970s.

Gupta set out to make in India everything Havells could already make, while adding to its high-end and export-oriented range. In the post-liberalisation scenario, when almost all local manufacturing outfits in the country, especially in the electronics and electrical fittings business, began to import and re-brand products for the Indian market, Gupta stayed the course with manufacturing locally. That is how, even today, as the baton has passed on to the third generation, the company’s internationally-manufactured range is still just about 10 per cent of its overall production.

What is more, the company has never succumbed to the idea that good design cannot be born in India. It still gives preference to its India design team, a trend that started in Gupta’s time. The export push is also responsible for making him one of the few traditional businessmen to find a place on the billionaires list.  The Rs 8,500-crore company (as of 2015), with a presence in 50 countries, is India’s largest electronic fast-moving goods exporter, whose range includes cables, wires, motors, fans, lamps, switches and other appliances.

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