Keshub Mahindra: Grand old man of India Inc

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) Keshub Mahindra, among the seven Indians held guilty of criminal negligence in the Bhopal gas tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster, is chairman of automobile-to-software group Mahindra and Mahindra and grand old man of India Inc.

A graduate of Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, the 86-year-old second generation industrialist joined the company in 1947 and became the chairman in 1963. For nearly five decades since then, he has been guiding the $6-billion Mahindra group.

His office declined comment on the court verdict on the Bhopal gas tragedy. Mahindra was the chairman of Union Carbide India when the disaster struck the factory at Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.

Widely respected for his philanthropic efforts, Mahindra is also among those who started corporate governance effeorts in real earnest and has served a number of official panels of the Indian government.

It was, perhaps, because of his association with Union Carbide when the company saw one of the worst industrial disasters, that he did not win any government award, though he has several lifetime achievement recognitions to his credit.

Mahindra was the original member of the so-called ‘Bombay Club’ of the early 1990s that had opposed economic liberalisation programme, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had launched for India as the country’s finance minister between 1991 and 1996.

He serves on the board of Mahindra Holdings and Finance, Housing Development Finance Corp, Tech Mahindra Foundation, Bombay Burmah Trading, Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing, and Pratham-India Education Initiative, among other institutions.

He is on the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, and has been past president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), Bombay Chamber of Commerce Industry and the Indo-American Society.

Mahindra’s group had first started with manufacturing of the iconic Willys Jeep in India under a licensing arrangement and shifted gears to light commercial and tractors. It is today India’s largest manufacturer of sports utility vehicles.

The empire is now led by his nephew Anand Mahindra, as his three daughters were least interested in business.

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