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Gujarmal Modi built corporate giant Modi Group after being banished for refusing a drink

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A man, who was banished from Patiala, built one of the largest business empires in India. Here’s the inspiring story of Gujarmal Modi started the Modi Group with a sugar mill.

It was 1932, and a young man had been expelled from the state of Patiala. What was his crime? In a celebratory banquet at the Patiala Palace, he had denied a sip of alcohol. The fact that the man was a teetotaller had made no difference to the maharaja.

The restriction proved beneficial, as the 30-year-old fled Patiala and built one of India’s largest commercial empires. Gujarmal Modi chose Begumabad, a small village on the outskirts of Delhi, as the site for his new plant.

The seeds of the Modi Group were planted here. Starting with a sugar mill, he built a conglomerate that included companies that produced tyres, textiles, copy machines, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, oil, and steel, to name a few.

The narrative of an ambitious young man who saw misfortune as an opportunity and went on to create history is told in Sonu Bhasin’s “Gujarmal Modi: The Resolute Industrialist” (HarperCollins). He established some of the best factories, built an industrial town that was decades ahead of its time, produced large-scale employment, and gave Indian industry a new lease on life.

Gujarmal Modi’s ten percent of earnings allocation to social responsibility, long before it became a corporate buzzword, and human resource efforts were benchmarks in Indian business history.

This book is a treasure trove of learnings for modern-day entrepreneurs, and it honours the man and his vision, tenacity, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit.

The first book in a series titled “Entrepreneurs Who Built India,” it depicts pre-liberalization India’s terrain, culture, and history.

“Most businessmen and promoters aspire to develop a massive commercial empire. Gujarmal Modi was unique. He wished to construct an industrial town. And he accomplished his goal in just thirteen years. His narrative is both entertaining and inspiring, and it will assist today’s managers and entrepreneurs understand that problems are simply bumps in the road to success “according to the author.

“Many entrepreneurs began in the pre-independence era and established big industries, thus they created jobs and provided much-needed wings to a newly constituted nation “Sachin Sharma, Executive Editor at HarperCollins India, agrees.

Sharma continues, “these entrepreneurs were undaunted and developed the India of today, although running a business in that age was a tough task.”

“Gujar Mal Modi was far ahead of his time and felt that strong people form a stronger country,” according to the Modicare website.

Dwelling on this concept, he made certain that every worker at the sugar mill was given a house, which was a first back then and still remains today.

“He made Modinagar self-sufficient. The calm persistence and progress of this formerly sleepy town shows Gujarmal Modi’s perseverance.”

Sonu Bhasin is one of the first and most senior female executives in the corporate sector. Throughout her career, she has held senior executive positions in several firms, including TAS (Tata Administrative Service), ING Barings, Axis Bank, Yes Bank, and Tata Capital Limited.

Bhasin serves as an independent director on the boards of several well-known and reputable local and worldwide corporations.

She now focuses on family companies as part of her job and is the founder of FAB (Families and Business).. She is the editor-in-chief of Families & Business magazine, a family business historian, and a business author. She was designated one of the Global 100 Most Influential Individuals for Family Businesses in 2020.

Bhasin holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in mathematics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, as well as an MBA from Delhi University’s Faculty of Management Studies.

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