The incredibly to start with time I observed him was at a buffet immediately after a push convention in one particular of the seven-star motels in Central Delhi. Dressed in a everyday T-shirt and denims, not a hair on his head, Chanchal Pal Chauhan was fast paced tackling a piece of mutton. I am not a great deal of a foodie myself but I identified that amusing. When I recall that moment now, I recognise there was a childlike innocence in it.
The next time, Chanchal–CPC to some, Chanchal San to most, and just Maalik to me, was heading entire tilt in a smaller auto that was not intended for racing. That was a widespread notice–all automotive journalists go a tad mental driving a steering wheel. I realized then, there was no other way we wouldn’t be good friends. Probabilities ended up incredibly significant we would come to be the most effective of good friends but that is a lot more down to his power of character and generosity than just about anything else.
All of 46, Covid snatched Chanchal from us in April, at the peak of the next wave. It left us numb and shattered a portion of me–forever. 6 months have long gone by and nevertheless it feels also uncooked. The thoughts has not been equipped to course of action his departure. Possibly it would not at any time. A cease-begin calendar year that this has been, automotive situations–push conferences, interviews, conferences and launches–have not been as recurrent. In a way that has been a blessing due to the fact just about every time an occasion has occurred, Chanchal’s name normally arrived up. Fellow journalists would reach out to your’s definitely and Pankaj Doval from Periods of India to explain to us how poorly he is missed. Or how a great deal poorer the sector is now. Nobody appreciates this as a great deal as we at ETAuto exactly where Malik gave the last two of a glittering 20-calendar year job.
As a specialist, he played tough but reasonable. There is not one particular business that he would not have given grief to in his job. Nevertheless all people counts him as a mate. I use the current tense in this article intentionally. As journalists we meet some persons a lot of periods and a lot of persons a several periods. Chanchal normally left an impression even on those whom he satisfied only a several periods. It is a uncommon quality.
The skill to mill close to with persons of all sorts gave him an edge in excess of the others. Scenario in issue was the tale he broke on how union leaders of Maruti Suzuki’s manufacturing facility in Manesar quietly retreated to the shadows immediately after accepting generous spend outs. It was a outcome of his robust hook up with the employees. By that time, we had all invested times outside the manufacturing facility building sources inside of the workforce but Chanchal had managed to forge the strongest of bonds.
With experience, he formulated the skill to foresee what is in retail outlet in the upcoming–yet another vital quality in a journalist. At ETAuto, one particular of his most prosperous tales was when he predicted that Harley Davidson would quickly wind up in India. He had back again then also hinted that Ford would observe the very same route. It arrived genuine also, barely five months immediately after his loss of life.
The last time I observed Chanchal, it was in Goa in February 2021. We ended up collectively for one particular a lot more of the a lot of media test drives we have shared in excess of the decades. Any individual who realized him individually, would know he was a gentleman who lived everyday living to the fullest–cliche as it may possibly audio. He had an enviable appetite for all excellent points in everyday living and beloved a excellent occasion. That night he was on fireplace. Just about as if he realized by some means that the occasion was quickly coming to an stop.
This calendar year the sector also lost one particular of the greatest executives we have at any time found or shall at any time see–Jagdish Khattar. Barely 72 several hours immediately after Chanchal in April, Khattar san succumbed to a cardiac arrest. Shock is not a term one particular would generally use for the demise of a septuagenarian but it is still apt in his scenario. In his seventy eight calendar year old physique, he still had the brain as sharp as that of a 40 calendar year old.
An arts graduate from the prestigious St Stephen’s University in Delhi, Khattar san went on to obtain a degree in law and joined the IAS. In the government he excelled at whichever he did mounting as a result of the ranks to come to be a joint secretary in the ministry of steel but his crowning glory was in the private sector. Less than his stewardship, India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki produced the smooth transition from a PSU to a private firm as the government bowed out in 2007.
With its to start with mover benefit that dates back again to the early 1980s, Maruti normally had an benefit in excess of the others. But to keep its vice-like maintain in a current market that has attracted the most effective in the business enterprise throughout the planet wasnt an effortless task. It did not aid that quickly immediately after he took in excess of the corner business at what was then referred to as Maruti Udyog Ltd, the business confronted a debilitating 90 working day workers’ strike at the Gurgaon manufacturing facility. They ended up demanding higher wages.
At a time when multinational corporations ended up moving into India in droves, this would have lifted expenses and produced the business even a lot more inefficient. With the guidance from Suzuki, which was then a minority shareholder, Khattar dug his heels in and dealt with the employees with an iron hand. It was a pivotal time for the business exactly where the marriage of its two main shareholders –Suzuki in Japan and government of India, had soured. Khattar san not only rebuilt the business so that it can maintain its possess in opposition to the challengers, he also assisted bridge the belief deficit between the government and Suzuki.
“The 2001 strike was one particular of the toughest durations that I arrived throughout in Maruti Suzuki. It was in fact the turning issue,” he reminisced in 2007 when he was leaving the firm. “If we had given in, we would not be exactly where we are nowadays. Salaries would have long gone up and we would have come to be inefficient. Our competitiveness in the current market would have been blunted.”
The strike impacted the firm’s placement in the current market as its share fell from a commanding seventy nine for every cent in January 1999 to just fifty one for every cent a calendar year later and a new very low of forty two for every cent in June 2000. Khattar nursed the business back again to well being right before hitting back again at the levels of competition with a flurry of launches that integrated Wagon R, Alto 800, the authentic Baleno sedan and Altura station wagon as also a revamped M800, which was at that time the most effective advertising auto in the place. By June 2001, Maruti had clawed back again to sixty for every cent share.
In the course of action Khattar san gained himself the moniker of becoming the Lee Iacocca of motown in India. The fortress that Maruti is nowadays has a large amount to do with Khattar san’s business enterprise acumen. Just after his retirement from Maruti in 2008, he gave in to his entrepreneurial zeal to launch Carnation–an revolutionary multi manufacturer services community for vehicles. The idea was straightforward–he realized the inefficiencies of the traditional automotive retail community and wished to disrupt it with a lot more cost-effective and quality services for shoppers.
Regretably, it did not get off and Khattar san invested the last several decades of his everyday living fending off loan companies. But he had not given in and that razor sharp brain was still churning out new concepts. These eyes ended up still entire of dreams. Some of them would definitely have taken off in the new enterprise cash funded financial state. If only that heart had cooperated a bit a lot more.
Anywhere they are, Maalik and Khattar san will have to still be obtaining a tug of war up there. Chanchal nibbling absent with his concerns, ready for Khattar-san to allow his guard down.