Desi Bidesi

Nirmal Thomas
4 min readAug 1, 2020


As much as I love the fact that Reliance destroyed various existing markets with the overnight sensation Jio (originally founded 13 years ago) just like the infamous Demonetization, we also realize Google, Facebook and others investing here doesn’t mean free money to pump the business. These are shares on profit / loss. They accept the risks of investing (which is still a good thing for India).

I’m no economist but my concerns are over Indian talent and potential being recognized and utilized extensively by the outsiders. The defence here would be the ‘Make in India’ movement. But if you closely look in to the initiative, you would have it renamed as ‘Assembled in India’. The hardware for all the products are still manufactured mostly in China, and then powered in India. Tihar prisoners do this too (pun intended).
A poster of Avengers: Endgame (AFP)

This concern extends to other industries as well. Most of Hollywood post production is made possible with Indian artists. Why do they make the biggest of movies and get away paying cheap labour? Apart from occasionally when there is a Baahubali or other box office breaking decent content, we get to see films only like Robot, Hindostan Thugs or Bhaagi and their sequels. But why do the west world make use of the same talent and produce the Avatars and Avengers! Or name anything big! Click here and here to read more about this.

But brother, we have our own Automobile industry secure, our very own Maruti is Indian.

Well, no. The Indian Government, started a venture named Maruti Udyog only to merge with the Japanese Suzuki within a few months. Of course Suzuki owns most of the shares.

Photograph by Disha Sheta.

This is the point where I deliberate to find if Indians really own and run some of the top brands. The results were pretty interesting!

Bata | I grew up thinking he was Tata’s brother. Bata is a Switzerland brand. I leave it here it’s fun to read up the inception of companies.

Star TV | Owned by Walt Disney. Disney even owns some of the regional channels you’re possibly watching now.

Top Ramen | I associated Top Ramen with Tenali Ramen. Or the Indian substitute to Nestle’s Maggi. I just could not digest it is from Japan.

Boost | is the secret of GlaxoSmithKline PLC from England for Indian needs, owned by Unilever now. Unilever owns a good amount of Indian FMCG.

Bose | Bose was introduced by an American-Indian. But in terms of company incorporation, ownership, and quality, American it is. Watch an interesting story on Bose here.

Maaza | Lifebouy | Tide | Pepsodent | HDFC and there goes the list.

Other important brands / companies acquired completely OR whose significant shares are owned by foreign bodies include: Flipkart, United Breweries Group (UB), Lakmé, DDB Mudra group, Adani Gas (50:50 with Total S.A), Paytm with 49.34% Chinese investments (Still Indian until 51% is traded).

Some Indian companies founded by Foreigners: FabIndia, ZoomCar, UB group, ITC (now Indian), Larsen & Toubro, The notorious East India Company (now Indian) and so on. All of these are curated from either respective brand websites or Wikipedia. I would totally acknowledge if I have made a mistake. Please let me know if they are misrepresented.

This article is not about blacklisting / boycotting the brands that have become a part of our generations since time immemorial. It is a mere reflection of possibilities turned down and the opportunities recognised.

That said, we do have Tatas, Birlas and Parles, here are few links on some amazing conglomerates that are doing well within and outside India. Such incredible human resource and India is still underway developing.

Indian brands at par with foreign brands by India Today

Brands you thought were foreign but are Indian actually by

Other interesting reads:

Beyond patriotism: Are Indian brands ready to win local and be global? by WARC

Indians have founded more Unicorn Startups in the US than in India by OfficeChai

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is UK’s top-selling bike in June by Yahoo News

Indian firms acquiring foreign companies up 369% by DNA

India’s brain gain: A new trajectory for talent by India Inc. Group



Nirmal Thomas

Eventually, we all arrive here.