India is one of the biggest economies in the world and surely going to be on top in upcoming years. India is a hub of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled manpower and this is our greatest USP.
Entrepreneurship is not new in India. Indian business has a long history and there are numerous Indian companies listed in the Fortune 500. There is also some Indians in the world’s top 500 billionaires.
The life journey of some Indian businessmen is really very inspiring. It also worth much more because they managed to make their fortune during British rule when it was not an easy task. The environment was not so conducive for business and particularly for Indian business. The person who succeeded in that environment went the extra mile to succeed.
Let’s see the amazing journey of such Indian businessmen who changed the world completely:
Dhirubhai Ambani (1932 – 2002)
When we talk about the great and most influential businessmen of India, a name will come in mind: Dhirubhai Ambani. Who doesn’t know this name today? Dhirubhai Ambani is one of the most famous businessmen in all of India. Even a kid knows about him or at least will recognize his last name “Ambani”. Ambani’s journey was not an easy cake. He has struggled a lot in the beginning and his business intelligence and hard work made his luxurious life what he lived. He started his journey as a student in the dusty lanes of a small village in Gujarat to the major seaport city of Aden and finally to Bombay where he becomes the doyen of the Indian industry.
Though he wanted to continue his studies after finishing school, Dhirubhai could not afford to do so. So, he instead went to Aden, Yemen to earn money and improve his financial condition. In Aden, he worked as a clerk for a trading firm. In those days, Aden was the second-busiest port in the world, and traders from across the world came here for business. He learned the ins and outs of trading and read everything that he could lay his hands on.
When British rule in Yemen came to an end, many Indian expatriates went either to Britain in search of a better life or came back to India. Dhirubhai came to Indian and started his first business with his cousin named Majin. Later, he launched Reliance Industries Limited on own in 1977. As of now, the combined fortune of his family tops out at 60 billion dollars, making them one of the wealthiest families in the world. Reliance industries employ over 85,000 people all over the world.
Reliance Industries is the biggest taxpayer in the form of customs and central excise duties which is Rs 23,786 crore for the year 2015-16. It is accounting for 4.8 percent of the center’s told collection of indirect taxes. The company was also the highest income taxpayer in the country, has paid Rs 7,827 crore for the same year.
Undoubtedly, he is the most famous Indian businessman of all time.
“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”
Ghanshyam Das Birla (1894 – 1983)
Ghanshyamdas Birla is one of the businessmen who inherited his family’s money-lending business and diversified into manufacturing. He moved to Kolkata (then Calcutta) to establish a textiles business. It was much to the displeasure of European and British merchants in that area and they did their best to shut Birla’s business down. There are a lot of problems for Birla. He had to overcome not only resistance from established players but also the biased policies of the British government which discriminated against Indian Bengali traders.
In the 1940s, Birla purchased Hindustan Motors and continued to diversify his business, investing in tea, cement, chemicals, and rayon. Birla was also the first Indian to found a commercial bank, the United Commercial Bank Limited. Now Aditya Birla group operates in more than 33 countries, employs over 133,000 people and has annual revenues of over $35 billion.
Birla also founded the Birla Engineering College. It is now called Birla Institute of Technology and Science, which is one of the best engineering colleges of India.
Ardeshir Godrej (1868 – 1936)
Ardeshir Burjorji Sorabji Godrej was an Indian businessman. He co-founded the Godrej Brothers Company with his brother Pirojsha Burjorji which is now known as Godrej Group. He was the first child of the six to Burjorji and Dosibai Gootherajee. They were a wealthy Parsi-Zoroastrian family of Bombay (now Mumbai) and dealt in real estate. In January 1871, his father changed the family surname as to Godrej.
After completing his graduation in law, Ardeshir Godrej started his career as a lawyer but didn’t find much success. So, he went to Bombay and worked as an assistant to a chemist. Because of his great business sense of business, he saw everything as a business opportunity.
Taking a loan from his father’s friend he started to manufacture medical equipment used in surgery, such as scalpels, surgeon’s scissors, forceps, etc. When he was satisfied that the quality of his equipment was world-class, he approached the boss of the company he was working for. His boss thought the equipment was great, but rejected the “Made in India” label, believing it wouldn’t be marketable. Ardeshir wouldn’t budge and the venture never materialized.
Later, one morning he read in the newspaper that burglary rates in Bombay were increasing and that locks weren’t working as well as they should. He saw that as a business opportunity and started to research lock making. This venture was so successful he is now known as the lockmaster of India.
Then he also made the first soap ever without animal fat: Cinthol, which is still used by millions of people.
The locks made his company famous and now the Godrej group has diversified itself in the business of real estate, appliances, security, FMCG products, etc.
Govindram Seksaria (1888 – 1946)
Govindram Seksaria is not a very popular industrialist of modern time and not many people may know about him, but Govindram Seksaria was the most famous businessman in pre-independence India.
Govindram Seksaria was born on October 19, 1888, in Nawalgarh Rajasthan. He lost both his parents at an early age. He had to take responsibility for his wife, brothers Bholaram, Ramnath, Makhanlal & 2 sisters. He moved from Nawalgarh to Mumbai (then Bombay) in the early 1900s and started operating under the name of Messrs. Govindram Seksaria. Govindram Seksaria started his career as an operator on the Bombay Cotton Exchange. Within a few years, the Cotton Contract Board accepted his membership. Later, he became one of the original members of the East India Cotton Association, going on to become a very famous name in the cotton market. Later, he was known as the Cotton King of the World.
At that time, it was very difficult for Indians to enter into business because of British rule. Foreign businesses controlled most of India’s trade and those businesses were in turn supported by the government. But that didn’t deter Govindram Seksaria.
After his success in the cotton market, Govindram diversified and began trading in bullion and other commodities. A founding member of the Indian Stock Exchange, Govindram founded Govindram Brothers Private Limited in 1937. This company got into the sugar, textile, minerals, banking, printing, and movie businesses. In addition to founding the Bank of Rajasthan, he also was a principal donor in establishing Bombay Hospital.
Considering the hostile environment for Indians at the time of British Raj; Govindram is nothing short of a pearl in the ocean.
Bhai Mohan Singh (1917 – 2006)
Bhai Mohan Singh was born at Rawalpindi (Now Pakistan) on December 30, 1917. His father Bhai Gyan Chand was a Hindu whereas his mother Sunder Dai was a Sikh.
Bhai Mohan Singh started his business in the construction industry, winning contracts to build roads in northeastern India during WWII. After the partition of India, he settled down in New Delhi and started a money-lending business.
At the same time, his cousins, Ranjit Singh and Gurbax Singh started Ranbaxy. Then Ranbaxy worked as the distributor for a Japanese pharmaceutical company, A. Shionogi, manufacturing vitamins and anti-TB drugs. After some years, Ranbaxy failed to pay a loan then Bhai Mohan Singh bought the company for Rs. 2.5 lakh. He bought the company on August 1, 1952. He joined hands with Italian pharma company Lapetit Spa and later on bought this company too.
In the 1960s, Mohan Singh launched an Indian version of valium called Calmpose and went on to release a series of blockbuster drugs. This made his mark in the pharmaceutical industry. In the early 1970s when Indian adopted a system of process patents, Bhai Mohan Singh quickly realized the possibility of manufacturing any product in the world through reverse engineering. Thus, he established an R&D facility at Mohali.
By the year 1973, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. became a recognized brand of India. The same year, his eldest son Parviner Singh joined the company. In 1982, he became the Managing Director of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. Bhai Mohan Singh had another son Analjeet Singh. He along with Analjeet laid the foundation for a new company Max.
A difference of opinion arose between Bhai Mohan Singh and Parvinder Singh regarding the functioning and expansion of Ranbaxy. In 1999 Bhai Mohan Singh was forced back and Parvinder took over the company. This depressed Bhai Mohan Singh and he stopped participating in the company affairs.
Bhai Mohan Singh was the ex-vice president of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC). For his contribution in civic matters, he was awarded the Padma Shri. For his contribution to the industrial development of Punjab, the Punjab Government named an Industrial Township near Ropar after him. Padma Shri Bhai Mohan Singh died on March 27, 2006.