A business museum inside a business school

IIM Kozhikode, during the end of 2010, embarked on an ambitious programme to create a Museum of Indian Business History which would be the first of its kind, unique, monumental and a significant step in acknowledging the contribution of India’s business leaders in the making of India.

The ancient and historical city of Kozhikode (earlier known as Calicut), located in the southern most part of the country, made history when Vasco Da Gama landed here for the first time around 500 years ago. Trade, Commerce, Business Corporate and the Industry have varied as well as rich tradition and a vast history in the Indian sub-continent, yet there was no business history museums or archives attempted/ created so far in India. This was the gap the Indian Business Museum intended to fill.

Here is a walk through the various sections of the museum.

Thought Zone – This zone is a curtain raiser to the 14 different sections of the Museum. The figurine ‘Mind Tree’ symbolizes the process of imbibing knowledge by curious minds thereby culminating in enlightenment.

The ‘Uru’ on display is the colloquial name for large Dhow-type wooden ships made in Beypore, a village south of Kozhikode, Kerala. Uru has been used by the Arabs since ancient times as trading vessels and its replica at IIMK is to honour its fair share in promoting trade between Kerala and the Arab countries.

On its sides is an exhibit replica of the Harappan Bullock cart and famous quotes of the founding fathers of the country.

Malabar Region – This section is a fitting tribute to the trade history of Malabar region which was at its zenith under Zamorin’s rule during the 15th century.  It was here that Vasco Da Gama landed on May 20, 1498 followed by the expansion of trade and the advent of Europeans in Kerala, changed its history forever. The maritime power of the zamorins under the ‘Marrakars’ of the Malabar is part of the folklore.

Ancient Period – This Section captures the trade and economic activities of Ancient India (7000 BC – 1026 AD) from the trading system prevalent in the Harappan age to the Gupta period. This section also highlights ‘Arthshastra’ of the chanakya, the first text on ‘Political Economy’ written during the 3rd century BC.

Medieval India – The use of coins (Gold, Silver, Copper) became more prominent during the Medieval period of India history and the advent of Mughals changed the history of the Indian sub-continent forever. The trade and commercial activities also underwent a ‘sea’ change due to the historical voyages undertaken across by European explorers.

Colonial India – This section captures the transition of Indian Economy during the British period, where India as a colony strengthened the British dominance all over the world due to its richness of resources.

During the 17th century almost the entire coastal region of the sub-continent was occupied by the European colonies.

Pre Independence – India

Pre-Independence India – This section tells the tale of the strategy of the British for the Indian economy. Mahatma Gandhi’s emergence on the national scene is also well depicted in this section on pre-independence India where his ‘Charkha’ symbolized self-reliance and set in chain of events which eventually culminated into India’s independence.

Post-Independence India – The vision of our founding fathers to transition the Indian economy from a predominantly agricultural set up to an industrial set up, to catch up with the industrial revolution of the Western world is well captured in this section on post- independence India.

This section also houses a rare edition of the original Indian Constitution with the original signatures of the founding fathers of the country.

Retail Sector – The Business section of this Museum depicts evolution of the Retail Sector in India from the evening bazaars, ‘kiranaey ki dukaan’, weekly ‘haats’ to the suave supermarkets and mighty malls and the contribution of the Sector to an emerging Indian Economy.

Business Sector – The post-independence era also saw India taking massive strides in revolutionizing business in sectors like television and film industry, aviation sector, biotechnology research sector and vocational crafts like jewelry designing creating a niche for India at the world stage.

For a predominantly agrarian economy the IT boom in the late 20th century witnessed the growth of Service Sector industry and its demand world over.

100 years young and counting – India is home to prominent business families who have contributed immensely to the Indian trade and business practices, this commemorative wall on the Companies which have went from strength to success in the past 100 years and more, has a special place in this museum.

Cooperative Sector – Dr Verghese Kurien revolutionized not only the cooperative sector but also contributed to the ‘White Revolution’ which saw India growing into one of the largest milk producers in the world.

The Reserve Bank of India Section – RBI has been the backbone on which the Indian Economy thrives. A special RBI gallery at the business museum captures the journey of the banking sector, the emergence of RBI on the national scene and a timeline on all the RBI Governors who have shaped the Indian economy with their futuristic vision and commitment.

Individual Contributors – This gallery is dedicated to cataloguing the individual contributors who with their vison and fortitude changed the perception of India in the modern world with their successful ventures.

Public Sector – Indian growth story will be incomplete without capturing the growth of the Public Sector undertakings in an independent India. This section highlights the role of companies like SAIL, ONGC, BPCL and others in nation building.

Banking Sector – Modern banking in India originated in the last decade of the 18th century. This section captures the history of the banking sector in India with visual depictions capturing its modern day evolution to current form of banking.

ISRO Corner

ISRO Corner: A treat to the visual eyes as well as stimulant to the keen mind, the standout pavilion of ISRO here at the Business Museum is one of the most sought after displays at our Museum. It showcases replicas of the satellites, launching vehicles and India’s formidable space journey from modest but committed beginnings. It was inaugurated by the current ISRO Chairman K Sivan, who was the then Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in 2012.

What did you like most about the Indian Business Museum? Tell us via the comments section below.

2 Comments

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