Apr 12, 2023By: Srishti Magan
India’s oldest billionaire, Keshub Mahindra passed away on Wednesday at the age of 99. The uncle of industrialist Anand Mahindra, Keshub Mahindra had a net worth of $1.2 billion, as per Forbes.
Ex-chairman of the automotive conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) group, Keshub Mahindra saw the birth of India’s automotive industry. He was part of a small group of people who met India’s defence minister in 1947 when India made the decision to develop its own automotive industry.
Keshub Mahindra was born in Shimla, on October 9, 1923. During his teenage years, he wanted to be a farmer or a soldier, but not a businessman. He’s the son of Kailash Chandra Mahindra - the man who co-founded the Mahindra group in 1945 with his elder brother.
Keshub Mahindra graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Post graduation, he was on his way to Brazil, when “his father, KC Mahindra, summoned him back to India to join the company he had just co-founded,” shared Anand Mahindra in The Week.
He joined M&M in 1947, and took over as chairman in 1963, after KC Mahindra’s death. He helped the company expand from auto manufacturing to other business segments like IT, real estate, financial services and hospitality.
After five decades, the visionary industrialist retired in 2012. During his tenure, he “guided the group adeptly from the days of stringent government regulation to the free-market economy,” stated Anand Mahindra.
He has been a part of several committees including the Sachar Commission on Company Law & MRTP and the Central Advisory Council of Industries. From 2004 to 2010, the billionaire also served as a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry in New Delhi.
In 1987, he was awarded the highest French civilian award, the Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'honneur. His brother and nephew have also won this award. He also received the 2015 Frost & Sullivan Award for leadership, innovation and growth.
Beyond the boardroom, Keshub Mahindra was known for his philanthropic ventures - he founded HUDCO (Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited) and was actively involved with the KC Mahindra Education Trust, which provides financial assistance to students for higher education.
In a conversation with his alma mater, Keshub Mahindra mentioned that industrialist JRD Tata and social activist Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh were his mentors.