This Day in History (14-Aug-1980) – Centre nationalizes Maruti company

Maruti’s history begins in 1970, when a private limited company named ‘Maruti technical services private limited’ (MTSPL) is launched on November 16, 1970. The stated purpose of this company was to provide technical know-how for the design, manufacture and assembly of “a wholly indigenous motor car”. In June 1971, a company called ‘Maruti limited’ was incorporated under the Companies Act and Sanjay Gandhi became its first managing director. After a series of scandals, “Maruti Limited” goes into liquidation in 1977. This is followed by a commission of inquiry headed by Justice A. C. Gupta, which submits its report in 1978. On 23 June 1980, Sanjay Gandhi dies when a private test plane he was flying crashes. After his death, and at the behest of Indira Gandhi, the Indian Central government salvages Maruti Limited and starts looking for an active collaborator for a new company: Maruti Udyog Ltd being incorporated in the same year.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd was incorporated on February 24, 1981 with the name Maruti Udyog Ltd. The company was formed as a government company, with Suzuki as a minor partner, to make a people’s car for middle class India. Over the years, the company’s product range has widened, ownership has changed hands and the customer has evolved. In October 2, 1982, the company signed the license and joint venture agreement with Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan. In the year 1983, the company started their productions and launched Maruti 800. In the year 1984, they introduced Maruti Omni and during the next year, they launched Maruti Gypsy in the market. In the year 1987, the company forayed into the foreign market by exporting first lot of 500 cars to Hungary.

As of May 2007, the government of India sold its complete share to Indian financial institutions and no longer has any stake in Maruti Udyog. As of November 2012, Maruti had a market share of 37% of the Indian passenger car market. In February 2012, the company sold its ten millionth vehicle in India. Till recently the term “Maruti”, in popular Indian culture, was associated tothe Maruti 800 model.



This Day in History (21-Mar-1977) – Internal Emergency, promulgated on June 25, 1975, withdrawn by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

“The Emergency” refers to a 21-month period in 1975–77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi unilaterally had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution for “internal disturbance”, the order bestowed upon the prime minister the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be suspended and civil liberties to be curbed. In the face of massive political opposition, desertion and disorder across the country and the party, Gandhi stuck to the advice of a few loyalists and her younger son Sanjay Gandhi, whose own power had grown considerably to become an “extra-constitutional authority”.

For much of the Emergency, most of Gandhi’s political opponents were imprisoned, many political & social organizations were banned and the press was censored. Several other atrocities were reported from the time. In Feb 1976, Indira managed to extend Loksabha’s duration by one more year. In Jan 1977, her own department did a survey and told her if she held the election during the Emergency she would return to power.Also Indira believed that the opposition was splintered and that elections would only accentuate the divide among them. And by winning the elections she could legitimise the Emergency and all that happened as part of it before the international community and also to formalise Sanjay Gandhi’s position. That, perhaps was the reason why she chose to announce the dissolution of the Lok Sabha on January 18, 1977. It was a courageous decision, considering the fact that she was under no visible compulsion to do so.

However opposition parties united together under leadership of Jayprakash Narayan and defeated Congress. Now that the political winds had changed and the opposition was in power with landslide majority and the emergency was still in effect, technically she found herself and her allies on the receiving end. She obviously couldn’t change the law overnight. So, she called off the emergency on 21st March and resigned the next evening on March 22, 1977.