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SP, Hindu group chairman, patriarch of the family, dies at the age of 87


“Gopichand, Prakash, Ashok and all the Hinduja family, it is with a heavy heart, regret to announce today the passing of our family patriarch and chairman of Hinduja group Mr. SP Hinduja,” said a family spokesperson. in a statement. “He was a visionary and mentor to the family, he instilled the founding principles and values ​​of our late father, PD Hinduja. He along with his brothers played a very important role in building a strong relationship between his host country, the UK and his homeland. country, India.”

SP had been struggling with illness in recent years and was under nursing care. He had long been the face of the family and built the group with his brothers, who were collectively known for their formidable networking skills and business acumen. They grew their family business, which included commercial vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland and private bank IndusInd, into several companies in 38 countries, in sectors such as oil lubricants, chemicals, energy and IT. The group employs more than 200,000 people.

Founded by Parmanand Hinduja, the Hinduja family had humble beginnings before SP and his brothers steered the group to pursue bigger ambitions and become one of the first Indian billionaires to make money abroad.

The origins of the Hinduja family date back to the Sindh region, home to many intrepid traders. They left their mark on the trade of spices, textiles and dried fruit with Iran.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, had ambitious plans to make Persia a modern nation. In response to Shah’s desire to improve Iran’s energy industry, the Hinduja family jumped at the chance to build metal pylons. After the deposition of the Shah by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, the Hinduja family moved to London. Sixty years after Parmanand first set up a business for his family in 1919, the family’s stay in Iran came to an end.

At that time, Bollywood films were dubbed into Farsi for the locals, which helped bolster the social capital of Hindus in Iran.

In 2022, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated Hindujas’ net worth to be over £28 billion.

While witnessing the fantastic growth of the family business and wealth, his life was also beset by hardships and some personal tragedies.

He lost his son, Dharam, in a tragedy in 1992 after the conservative family opposed the young scion’s romance with a girl outside their community. His wife, Madhu, died in January.

He had to take on family responsibilities early in life. He was the second son of Parmanand Hinduja. Girdhar Hinduja was the eldest and he died in 1963 at the age of 33, leaving the then 28-year-old SP to help his father run the business.

Over the course of the next half century, SP transformed the Hinduja group into one of India’s largest business houses, taking over the reins after Parmanand died in 1971. Besides fame, the brothers were also involved in many controversies. The largest of such cases was the allegation that the family acted as a conduit for bribes on behalf of Swedish arms maker Bofors. However, the Bofors controversy erupted and the courts acquitted them of any wrongdoing.

However, SP has recently given up on the pursuit of wealth, having decided to pursue religion while his brothers took over the reins of the group.

Quite early on, a suspicion of a change in the mentality of the businessman was seen. In a 1999 interview, Srichand told journalist Pritish Nandy, “Dharma taught me how to overcome my intense personal grief and transform it into a meaningful and relevant mantra. A mantra of hope. That’s what keeps me going today.”

SP’s whole life he struggled to build the Hinduja business house, running operations spanning continents from London, with India providing the fulcrum with two flagships: Ashok Leyland, the truck manufacturer and IndusInd Bank, a private bank.

SP and his three brothers – Gopichand, 83; Prakash, 78; and Ashok, who is in his early 70s, agreed a pact in 2014 that all assets held in a brother’s name belonged to all of them. In 2015, Srichand sued his three brothers, claiming that the agreement had no legal effect. He has two daughters: Vinoo and Shanu. Vinoo, who had been given permanent power of attorney over his affairs, continued the dispute after Srichand had developed dementia in recent years.

In a statement, the sisters mourned the death of their father. “SP will be remembered for his great contributions to bringing India and its culture to the world stage through his work and philanthropic endeavours. SP passed away peacefully this morning, cared for by members of his family, and we are at peace knowing he will be reunited with his beloved wife and son in the afterlife. We will continue to uphold SP’s legacy and values,” they said in a statement.

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.