Business India ×
  Magazine:
Milestones

Published on: July 31, 2020, 3:34 p.m.
A century of growth
  • For the first time, more than 400 vehicles took part in the event

By S.M. Boothem

The Western India Automobile Association (WIAA), the largest association of automobile owners in South Asia, has come a long way since starting with 500 members in 1919. It has been growing from strength to strength and, as it enters its 100th year, it has more than 100,000 members spread across the western region.

The association started as the Western Motor Union in 1903. The members formally got together in 1918 and, on 15 October 1919, the first meeting was held at the Taj Ballroom. To commemorate the centenary celebrations, WIAA organised India’s largest motorshow in February 2019 with Parx at MMRDA grounds in Mumbai. For the first time, more than 400 vehicles took part in the event – 100 vintage and classic cars, 100 super cars, 100 vintage bikes and 100 superbikes.

 “The Super Car Show presented by Parx is a motor show unlike any other in India,” says Gautam Singhania, CMD, Raymond & founding chairman, Super Car Club. “We are confident that it will be a treat for all car fanatics, as there will be some cars that have never been seen in India before. We also feel sure that this annual fiesta will only become bigger and better”. It was a real treat to watch as automotive lovers caught a glimpse of the convoy of these beauties, as they zoomed past the streets of Mumbai, from Bandra to Ballard Estate on 10 February. “I am proud that India’s largest auto show of vintage and super cars and bikes is being held in Mumbai in the centenary year of the WIAA,” added Nitin Dossa, executive chairman, WIAA.

 “We hope to do many more such events,” elaborates Dossa. “The next event is a Women’s Rally to the Valley from Mumbai to Amby Valley in April. We are the only auto association in India which has many branches – Jaipur, Kutch, Ahmedabad, Pune, Nagpur and Goa. This is the only association, not only in India, but in the world, apart from the RTO, that issues driving licences to our members in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The association has reciprocal service arrangements with automobile associations and clubs all over the world. With our fully computerised system, we are also authorised to issue international driving licences on the spot to members travelling abroad”.

 Top priority

 Apart from this, WIAA has a number of plans lined up this year, the top priority of which is to establish a training institute in Bhuj and then continue to focus on road safety to bring down the rate of accident and deaths. It has recently introduced roadside assistance in India to members driving in all parts of the country. They have to call the toll free number and a team will reach them within half an hour. The WIAA is also closely working with the concerned authorities on helping to provide solutions/suggestions on road safety and other issues. It also plays a major role as a member of the Road Safety Committee in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

 “A lot has been achieved over the years. In particular, in the last 50 years, we have gone into road safety; that is important for us.” More than 70 per cent of fatal road accidents in 2017 involved adults in the age group of 18-45 years of age. As many as 147,000 people died on Indian roads in the 464,000 accidents reported during 2017, says a report by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. “We want to do something on the critical area of safety,” adds Dossa. “At Ahmedabad, we established the first road safety institute in 1995, which was inaugurated by the then deputy prime minister L.K. Advani. The institute is running successfully, and our next big initiative is to start another institute at Bhuj”.

 

While WIAA’s top priority is road safety, it is also trying to rope in girls from the slums and train them to drive cars. They are also teaching them to speak English and learn self-defence. WIAA has already employed 18 women so far and 21 more are under training. The association is keen to teach youngsters driving and provide them with licences.

WIAA is a well-known brand in India, and the association gets support from authorities both in India and overseas for all its activities. So far, it has trained 40,000 drivers of the Maharashtra State Transport Corporation and continues to support them in safety areas. To learn the basics and technical details of heavy duty vehicles, WIAA has also installed driving simulators in Nagpur, Pune and Mumbai.

The association organises activities during road safety week every year in tandem with regional authorities and educates them by way of drawing competitions, street plays and helmet distribution. It holds driving classes for safe driving for private and commercial car drivers. It conducts rallies and drives, including the vintage car fiesta, in association with VCCCI and the women’s car rally.

 “The year-long celebrations of WIAA have just started,” says Dossa. “And we are planning another big motor show in 2020”.

(This is reproduced from Business India magazine. This was first published in our issue dated April 8-21, 2019)

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