Freedom Quest: Indian Brands from Pre-Independence India You Still Use Today

We Indians are an enterprising people. Despite a long history of colonial rule in our country we still kept using our innovation to establish businesses and build brands that not only survived the harsh rules and taxations imposed by the British but that also continue to thrive today. Here are some Indian brands that are older than independent India and probably still used by you today!

1) Dabur

At some point when you were growing up you were probably given a spoonful of Dabur Chyawanprash by your Dada, Dadi, Nana, or Nani. May be it became a habit of yours since that day, or maybe you ran miles away. But the Dabur range of over 260 products is still here. The brand was born as far back as 1884, growing from the Ayurvedic medicine practice of Kolkata’s ‘Daktur Burman’ (Doctor Burman), as he was fondly called.
As his practice grew more popular, Dr. S.K. Burman was able to establish his first R&D unit in 1919. By 1930 he was already automating and upgrading his manufacturing process to produce Ayurvedic products on a bigger scale. And in 1940 brand Dabur sold its first mass-scale product, the Dabur Amla Hair Oil which quickly became India’s largest selling hair oil brand.
Dabur Chyawanprash was launched in 1949.

2) Haldiram’s

Whether you have guests over for tea or you have the midnight munchies, Haldiram’s namkeens and snacks are probably there with you. Haldiram’s has been around, saving us from snack cravings since 1937 when Gangabhisan Aggarwal set up shop in Bikaner, Rajasthan. While it was their bhujia that stole the show at first (it still does IMHO), today they sell over 100 products in India and across the world.

3) Asian Paints

In our country’s harsh weather conditions getting the walls and exteriors of our house painted and repainted is a fairly regular practice for most Indians. Chances are that more and often than not your pick Asian Paints. It is after all India’s largest and Asia’s third largest paints corporation. But the company has its origins in a humble garage in Mumbai where four friends Champaklal Choksey, Chimanlal Choksi, Suryakant Dani, and Arvind Vakil started making paints in 1945. It was time when a temporary ban on paint imports had a left a precious few paint companies in the market, and the friends saw a gap to fill, or shall we say, paint?

4) Raymond

Despite so many international and modern brands in India today there remains a strong likelihood that if you spot a well-dressed man in a suit in a crowd, he is probably wearing Raymond. Simply because the brand is one of the world’s leading producers of worsted fabric. Brand Raymond’s life started under a different name much earlier but it was incorporated as Raymond Woollen Mill in 1925 near Thane Creek. Today it has a capacity to produce 31 million metres of wool and wool-blended fabrics.

5) Bajaj

From the humble two-wheeler scooter that was nearly every middle-class working man’s first vehicle, his pride and joy, in the 1970s and 1980s, to motorbikes that that vroom in different corners of the world, Bajaj Auto has come a long way.
Jamnalal Bajaj first set up shop in 1944 as a two- and three-wheeler trading company. They started manufacturing their own vehicles in 1959 and today they are the world’s third largest bike manufacturer with a presence in 70 countries.
That is ‘Humara Bajaj’ for you.

6) Parle-G

If you haven’t at least once dunked a Parle-G ‘biskut’ in your chai, are you Indian at all?
In a Neilsen survey in 2011, Parle-G biscuits came up as the best-selling brand of biscuits in the world. The brand has its origins in a confectionary shop that was set up in 1929 in the Vile Parle suburb of Mumbai. By 1939 the shop had turned manufacturer of ‘Parle-G’ brand biscuits. And in 2013 it became the first Indian Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brand to cross the INR 5000-crore mark in retail sales i.e. a lot of people are having a lot of Parle-G biscuits in the world.

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