sible, says MUL advisor

Maruti Udyog had, in fact, pioneered the cluster approach and got the clutch of its vendors to adhere to quality systems and processes. The idea was to showcase a couple of units for several others to follow. One member of the cluster Sundaram Brake Linings has won the prestigious Deming Award.

When Maruti first started the cluster approach there were 11 vendors and the second cluster saw six vendors joining. Nevertheless, Kumar is in the process of launching the third cluster.

A mechanical engineer from Delhi University and a doctorate holder in simulation of combustion and gas exchange process in diesel engines, Kumar first joined the Indian Railways. Rising to the level of additional director, RDSO, the railways' design and development organisation, he joined Maruti when it was set up.

A recipient of Bajaj Auto NIQR (National Institution for Quality and Reliability) Outstanding Quality Man Award 2002, Kumar's work in propagating total quality management (TQM) among the Indian industries is immense. According to him India has the potential to become the global design house for automobile industry. "We will establish a good design house here." Excerpts from interview:

Your comments on winning the award?
Award, per se, is a recognition to convince an organisation or assuring its people that they are in the right direction. Winning an award is not an end itself.

It is said that European cars are sturdier than Japanese make.
You should note that Japanese carmakers do sell in good numbers in Europe. And if Maruti is able to sell the Alto in Europe it means that we meet the standards. The Japanese by nature are conscious about waste and space. They are frugal, and focus on resource optimisation, but not at the cost of quality and safety. Merely adding weight is not great. In fact Maruti won the Confederation of Indian Industry's business excellence award after being judged under European standards. Suzuki believes in designing low-cost cars. The philosophy is to cut the cost while improving the quality. For the last three decades Suzuki has retained its market-share.