Why are Indians so obsessed with surnames

Japanese quality «à l'indianne»

"South Indian family names are a science in themselves," admits even Venu Srinivasan. Nothing in his name indicates that he is descended directly from the male line of T.V. Sundaram. In Tamil, the father's first name becomes the son's last name,

"South Indian surnames are a science in themselves," admits even Venu Srinivasan. There is nothing in his name to indicate that he is descended directly from the male line of T.V. Sundaram. In Tamil, the father's first name becomes the son's surname, and this is also written first, often only as an initial. It helps that at least the name of the family company - TVS Motors Ltd. - has remained constant and has kept the initials of the grandfather. TVS is a nationally known name as India's largest scooter manufacturer. But even here few people know that the TVS Group is also India's largest automotive supplier. And hardly anyone suspects that in addition to the founder's initials TVS, the ideals of quality can also be traced back to him.

T.V. Sundaram was General Motors representative in the historic temple city of Madurai on the southern tip of India in the twenties of the last century and held the license for urban bus transport. “It was the first bus service in India that followed a fixed timetable,” says 55-year-old grandson Srinivasan, who joined the company after completing his engineering degree and has been President of TVS Motors since 1986. Sundaram was obsessed with punctuality, he says. The buses had a reputation for serving as timepieces for people. Every night he had a vehicle with magnets under the floor of the car drive along the bus routes. In this way he collected horseshoes and nails - there were still many carts back then - in order to prevent the buses from being delayed due to burst tires.

When World War II made it impossible to import any components, Sundaram began manufacturing its own accessories. TVS was born. Every motor vehicle on Indian roads, one of Srinivasan's assistant proudly explains, drives with TVS products - be it brake pads, brake systems, valves, gear shifts, tire jackets, tires, engine parts or pedals. The products are distributed through a number of companies run by members of the diverse family. There are also numerous joint ventures, including those with German and American suppliers. “But we feel closest to the Japanese,” says Srinivasan, because they are similar to them in one aspect: the social appreciation of the family and its transfer to the company's culture.

The grandchildren of T. V. Sundaram have also committed themselves to Total Quality Management, which the latter had already followed when the term did not even exist. Srinivasan says he had the floor of his GM garage in Madurai cleaned of oil stains every evening. This was one of the reasons that he was awarded the title of world's best GM representative in 1927, he continues. TVS treats quality awards like religious symbols to this day. The only decorations in the entrance hall at Sundaram-Clayton Ltd. - the TVS joint venture with the German Wabco and also chaired by Srinivasan - there are two certificates in addition to the images of the gods. One is the “Deming Prize”, which TVS was the fourth non-Japanese company to receive in 1998, the other is the “Japan Quality Medal”. No other Indian company has received this “Nobel Prize in the Automotive Industry”. “Both are like an accolade for us,” emphasizes C. Narasimhan, a former company boss, proudly and continues: “We are obsessed with quality and productivity; Toyota is our God. "

It is not surprising that the joint venture partner Wabco is considering relocating part of its brake system production from Germany to Chennai. Because productivity is not only the result of constantly working out shorter and shorter work steps and communication channels, but also the good working atmosphere. In what other company does management actually have to force workers to form a union? He insists, explains Venu Srinivasan in an interview. He doesn't do this to create an outlet for frustration, but because the company needs a partner with whom one can work together to improve working conditions. In his judgment they are more or less a family, they are all in the same boat, so to speak.