Fabled East India Company Brand Revived But Will India Open to Trade?

Posted on August 5, 2010


The storied and powerful name of the East India Company will brand products once again.  But unlike the former corporation bearing the name, it will not be a major military and political force on the subcontinent.

The trading partnership that became the East India Company was granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600. From 1757 it governed large parts of India where its activities remain controversial. The “John Company”, as the organisation was colloquially known, used its military might to suppress local rulers and establish trading monopolies. Company officials, or “nabobs”, could become hugely wealthy. [FinancialTimes]

The brand will initially be limited to a single shop selling luxury food items in an upscale area of London. The new brand owner is Indian entrepreneur Sanjiv Mehta.

Britain’s new Prime Minister Prime Minister, David Cameron, visited India in late July to begin the process of improving investment possibilities for Britain in India and for India in Britain:

The U.K. has been losing ground in India to the U.S. and although the country is keen to encourage foreign direct investment in some areas, particularly infrastructure, it is not about to dismantle the barriers that exist for much of the service sector. There will be no end of pleasantries to mark the visit but a true mark of success would be a change in the laws which prevent overseas law firms, for instance, being able to open offices in the country.As Indian businesses go global, they would benefit from having easy access to the international legal firms but the local practitioners have proved highly successful in fending off what they see as potential competition. In other sectors, such as retail and finance, there are strict restrictions on overseas operators. Major banking groups intent on reaching India’s growing wealth, are limited in the number and location of branches they are allowed to open.

India is growing at a remarkable rate – something they have to do to keep ahead of overwhelming poverty among the majority of its people. The day is past when students from India  studying in Britain or the US will opt to remain after graduation. They are returning to their homeland.  In areas such as medicine, India has world-class medical people and hospitals.  Many Americans have discovered the excellent care at reduced cost available to them there.

So put aside your Peter Sellers idea of an Indian and welcome to the new world order. Peter’s classic comic portrayal of an eccentric Indian doctor is far from the truth today: