If the desire is to travel into the past step
elegantly into a bullock cart as was the style in the pre-Christian
In the Mohenjodaro
excavations toy models of carts drawn by oxen are found. A bronze
model of a cart with the driver seated and holding a whip has been
excavated in Chanudaro another city of the same civilization. Two
bullocks yoked to a pole with a cart which at times may have a roof
over a wooden framework were the principal means of transport. In
Egypt a drawing has been found among the paintings of Thothemas II
(1495 B.C.) said to be of the oldest Indian car.
The ancient texts and
epics also mention the various modes of transport that were used in
the march of Indian civilization. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata
mention chariots and carts embellished with various gems and precious
metals. The Pushpa Vimana or the bejeweled chariot which was
in Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana, is described in great detail in the
Ramayana. Horses, asses and mules were used to draw these carts.
Horses were ridden as
also used to pull chariots in the Rig Vedic times. Sometimes more
than two per cart were also used. These carriages were mostly used by
the rich. The common people used wagons drawn by a bull and a
buffalo, sometimes more than two animals were used, depending on the
size of the vehicle. The wheel had spokes and the chariots were made
ordinarily of light wood. A more rough and tough form of cart was
used for bad roads. The Greek historian Herodotus talks of the
chariots used in the campaigning to help Darius III, King of Iran
against Alexander of Macedon. These chariots were drawn by wild asses
and horses. Nearchus the Cretan Commander of Alexanders fleet
has also recorded the four horse chariots used by the wealthy along
with elephants for transport.
the ancient treatise on administration, mentions palanquin and carts
drawn by horses, camels and bullocks. In Mauryan times there was a
Superintendent of chariots and factories for the manufacture and
maintenance of chariots and carriages of different kinds .Alexanders
Roman historian Curtious records and Mauryan king Chandragupta begin
carried in a palanquin made of gold and embellished with pearls. His
processions would include amongst others, chariots drawn by four
horses. During King Harshavardhanas rule elephants and horses
were used widely and were royal transport. All this before the sixth
Thereafter innovation in
transport seems to have been limited to changes of designs or
accessories. In fact during the Mughal rule, roads deteriorated and
wheeled traffic found it difficult to move on, particularly during
The European horse and
buggy or post chaise were expensive means of commuting and used only
by the very rich.
In the hills ponies were
used. At times children and sometimes adults would travel in a sort
of basket chair on the backs of the coolies or porters.
In the 20th
century, the old modes of transport, the cart and the carriage were
still used. The new additions specially in the north of India were
all horse drawn. They were the tanga, ekka and shikram
a box-like four wheeler. Carriages on the European pattern also came
into use such as the landau, buggy, trap, phaeton or Victoria. Hand
drawn and hand pushed carts were also used for conveying people. The
palanquin and dolie carried by men were also used as transport
for people. This was the case in cities. In the rural areas bullock
carts were widely used.
World over, the state of
the automobile industry has served as a barometer of the fortunes of
the industrial sector as a whole. The state of consumer demand is
reflected in auto sales which in turn have wide repercussions because
of extensive linkages with suppliers. It is therefore a happy fact
that the automobile sector is one of the fastest growing industries
Prior to independence in
the 1940s India had no automobile industry to speak of. Cars were
brought into the country in a knocked down condition from England.
They were reassembled to serve the minuscule market provided by the
British ruling class and some Indian elites. The presence of such
vehicles led to the birth of an indigenous spare parts industry
mostly concentrated in the south of the country.
Today, the automobile
industry is fast maturing. It sells about 4 million vehicles which is
nearly 10 times more than the 45,000 sales that were realized in
1984. Over the last three years, the industry has been recording
growth rates of 20%. Over 2 billion dollars of direct foreign
investment has flowed into this sector alone. Virtually every
automobile giant in the world be it General Motors, Puegeot,
Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Fiat, Daewoo, Hyundai or Honda have invested
substantially in setting up production facilities in India.
The encouraging policy
environment, continuously rising incomes, and the increasing
availability of consumer finance is likely to ensure that the auto
industry continues its present rate of expansion.
The boom in the
automobile industry has had a favourable impact on the auto
components sector which has grown in an even more spectacular fashion
at a rate of more than 30% per annum. The industry manufactures the
entire range of parts from castings and forgings to final assemblies.
There are over 300 medium and large units and several thousand small
sector units active in the industry employing about 250,000 people.
As regards future growth, investments of about $ 400 million are
expected to be made in the next few years. Much of this investment
would come from foreign companies which have shown tremendous
interest in developing the Indian auto components industry as a
sourcing centre for their worldwide operations. At the beginning of
1996 there were 250 foreign collaborators (mainly from Japan, UK,
USA, Germany) operating in India. In the first eight months of 1996
37 new joint ventures were finalized. Wholly owned subsidiaries, such
as for instance by the GM owned Delphi Automotives, are also being
The auto components
industry has now emerged as a sector with competitive advantage.
Exports in 1995-96 were of the order of $ 250 million. Parts were
exported to the plants of GM, Mercedes, IVECO, and Daewoo. Fuel
injection parts, motorcycle components, gears, break systems, spark
plugs and accessories were some of the chief export items. A
sustained annual export growth of over 20% is expected in the future.
Industry experts also foresee a continuation of recent trends away
from single component parts to complete systems. This would add to
the value creation potential of the industry.