He was one of the oldest Indian industrialists who headed one of the oldest automobile groups in the country – Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M).

But on Wednesday, the 99-year-old doyen Keshub Mahindra (Born on October 9, 1923), Chairman Emeritus of the $19 billion revenue M&M group attained the lotus feat of the God. In another six months, he would have become a centenarian.

It was during his nearly 50-year reign, that the M&M group forayed into other business ventures like information technology, financial services, hospitality and others.

Interestingly, along with M&M, Mahindra saw the evolution of the India automobile industry.

“The industrial world has lost one of the tallest personalities today. Shri Keshub Mahindra had no match; the nicest person I had the privilege of knowing. I always looked forward to mtgs with him and inspired by how he connected business, economics and social matters. Om Shanti,” Pawan Kumar Goenka, Chairman, INSPACe and who had spent a long time in M&M group tweeted.

A graduate from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, USA, Mahindra joined the company in 1947, the year when India became independent. Nearly two decades later, he took over as the Chairman in 1963.

Under him, the group entered into partnerships with several foreign companies like International Harvester Company, Peugeot, British Telecom, Mitsubishi Corporation, Nissho Iwai Corporation.

Mahindra also brought in outside professionals to run the various businesses and set the trend for some other Indian groups to follow.

Mahindra was initially against the opening up of the Indian economy in the 1990s, all of a sudden after being closed for several decades. However, he later changed his views on the government move.

He had also served on the Boards and Councils of several companies like SAIL, Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels, IFC and ICICI.

Mahindra was also the Founder Chairman of HUDCO (Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited); Vice-Chairman of Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd; Chairman Mahindra Ugine Steel Co. Ltd; Director of Bombay Dyeing & Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited.

Mahindra was the non-executive Chairman of the Bhopal gas leak fame Union Carbine India Ltd. The gas leak that happened in 1984 killed nearly 4,000 people and injured several thousands.

He and some other former employees of Union Carbide were sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined Rs 100,000 in connection with the gas leak case. All those who were sentenced were given bail.

A philanthropist, Mahindra was appointed by the Indian government to serve on many Committees, including the Sachar Commission on Company Law & MRTP and the Central Advisory Council of Industries.

He was a Member of the Apex Advisory Council of ASSOCHAM and the President Emeritus of the Employers’ Federation of India.

Mahindra was an Honorary Fellow of the All India Management Association, New Delhi and a member of the Council of the United World Colleges (International) in the United Kingdom.

In 1987, he was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’honneur by the French Government. From 2004 to 2010, Mahindra was a Member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry.

“The Indian Automobile Industry today lost one of its pioneers Shri Keshub Mahindra, at the age of 99. His leadership in the early years of the journey of the Indian Auto Industry had led to India being recognised as an important player globally and also helped in India becoming a manufacturing hub for the Automobile sector,” said Vinod Aggarwal, President, SIAM and MD & CEO, VECV.

“He was the President of SIAM during the year 1964. SIAM and the Indian Automobile Industry condoles the passing away of a true visionary and pray for the departed soul to rest in peace,” Aggarwal added.

Source – IANS