Keshub Mahindra, Billionaire Indian Industrialist, Dies at 99

Indian businessman Keshub Mahindra, who developed his family-owned steel and auto businesses into a huge multinational conglomerate, was convicted of the poison gas leak that killed thousands in Bhopal in 1984. Its reputation has been damaged. He died on April 12th. he was 99 years old.

His company, Mahindra Group, confirmed his death in a statement, but did not disclose where he died.

Under Mahindra’s leadership, the company has rapidly expanded from its core business of steel trading and Willys Jeep manufacturing to include cloud and network technology, hospitality, renewable energy, logistics, financial services and real estate.

He has formed international partnerships with companies such as Peugeot, British Telecom and Mitsubishi, helping them build their businesses in India and expanding Mahindra globally. He did not neglect Mahindra’s core business as he expanded. Over time, the company became a major Indian automaker known for its SUVs and a global supplier of tractors.

Today, Mahindra Group employs more than 260,000 people in over 100 countries and has annual sales of $19 billion. Mahindra had a personal fortune of $1.2 billion, according to the report. forbes.

Mahindra said there are two main keys to a successful multifaceted international business. Avoid arbitrarily forcing new management into an acquired business, and know when to walk away from a bad deal.

“When we acquire some of these businesses, we make sure that senior management from that group stays with us,” Mahindra told an interviewer. Harvard Business School 2013. “There are very few changes.”

“We are not afraid to withdraw from businesses that do not meet global standards,” he added.

He has also served on the boards of major Indian companies such as Tata Steel and ICICI Bank. It was his role as chairman of one of those boards, Union Carbide India Ltd., that got him involved in the Bhopal disaster.

In the early morning hours of December 3, 1984, 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyanate gas erupted from a Union Carbide pesticide plant near a populated area of ​​Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state in central India.

More than 3,000 people are believed to have died that night, many in their sleep, and many more. Estimates range from 10,000 to over 15,000 — died from the long-term effects of chemical exposure. Hundreds of thousands became sick or injured.

Activists and the Indian government blamed the accident on poor management of the factory. Even before the earthquake, there were many reports of accidents and dangerous situations at the factory.

The company condemned the sabotage and said local officials were responsible for managing the factory.

Vice President Mahindra, who was the managing director of Union Carbide India, and Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson, American citizens who fled to India after the disaster, were arrested on December 7. The most serious of these were criminal conspiracies and guilty murders.

Mr. Anderson was released on bail within hours on the condition that he leave the country immediately. Mr Mahindra and his Mr Gokhale were released on bail the following week.

The Indian government filed a lawsuit against Union Carbide in 1986, and three years later, India’s Supreme Court ordered the company to pay $470 million in damages, with each victim earning an average of $550. . As part of the settlement, the government dropped criminal charges against Anderson, who died in 2014 without facing trial in India.

The prosecution of Mahindra and seven other former officials, all Indian, dragged on for more than a quarter of a century, stalled by an inefficient court system. In 2010, all eight were convicted of the death penalty for negligence. (By then he had one defendant dead.) They were fined about $2,100 each and sentenced to two years in prison, but were released on bail.

Disaster Victims Advocate Satina Sarangi described the ensuing verdict as “the world’s worst industrial disaster reduced to a road accident.”

In a 2013 interview with Harvard Business School, Mahindra claimed that he was not the one managing the company’s day-to-day operations as chairman and that he had been made a scapegoat.

“How can you choose a non-executive chairman who has no capital interest in the company and no authority to manage it?” he asked.

Still, he said. That should never have happened. “

Keshub Mahindra was born in Shimla on October 9, 1923. Shimla was then the summer capital of British-ruled India and is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh, the northern state of the country.

His father, Kailash Chandra Mahindra, founded a steel trading company first known as Mahindra & Mohammed in 1945 with his brothers Jagdish Chandra Mahindra and Gulam Mohammed.

Mr. Mohammed left the company to become Minister of Finance of Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947 and the Mahindra brothers changed the company name to Mahindra & Mahindra.

Keshuv Mahindra, fresh out of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, joined the company that year. After his father died in 1963, he became chairman shortly after the company expanded into tractors through a contract with his harvester International. The company now claims to be the world’s largest tractor manufacturer.

He stepped down in 2012 and his nephew Anand became chairman. His other survivors include his wife Sudha Mahindra. 3 daughters, Uma her Malhotra, Reina her Labour, and Yutika Mahindra. six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mahindra became a major philanthropist and focused much of her philanthropic work on education, especially for women. KC Mahindra Education Trust, founded by his father, has helped more education. More than 500,000 underprivileged girls It provides more than $119 million in grants and scholarships in 14 states in India, according to. latest annual report.

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