ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Baby Car Not Just Yet

Editorial from Vol XII, No 12, March 19, 1960

The Jha Committee was appointed to cover up the inability of a hasty and ambitious Min-ister to stand up to Parliament. The facts about the automobile industry had been laid bare in the Tariff Commission’s Report of 1950. Since then, the automobile industry, particularly the passenger car section, has been hit hard by foreign exchange shortage. This has also given an excuse to the industry to delay further the import of capital goods necessary to complete its manufacturing programme which it had taken on hand. 1958 was the worst year. Not only car prices went up to a high premium, order books were full for two years ahead and delivery dates fell behind. The main issues that the Jha Committee were asked to examine, viz, the progress of the industry, steps to be taken to bring down costs, the feasibility of producing a low-cost passenger car within the price range of Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000, and the financial implications including the foreign exchange component of development programmes, all these must have been exam-ined time and again by the Government and must have been receiving continuous atten-tion. On the first three, the Tariff Commission had thrown light, and for any further infor-mation that was needed, the Tariff Commis-sion would have been the right body to advise Government, instead of a Committee, and a Committee which was predominantly official in character. The result is as could be expected and the folly of it has been more than borne out by the report. What the public wants to know is: can it ever get a car at a reasonable price? On this, the Jha Committee’s stand is not very different from that of the Tariff Commission in 1956.

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