Why Partap Singh Kairon, man behind Punjab’s agricultural and industrial growth, was killed

Why Partap Singh Kairon, man behind Punjab’s agricultural and industrial growth, was killed

Nihal Singh Kairon was a social reformer and a pioneer who was the first person in the state of Punjab to raise awareness for the education of girls. He set up a girls’ college in Patti and encouraged parents to send their daughters to college. He was a well-known and respected man in Amritsar.

They called him Partap Singh. Nihal Singh, his dad, laid great emphasis on Partap and education was brought up on the very same principles. After successfully completing his schooling in Amritsar, he went to Khalsa College in town to pursue graduation.

Nihal Singh wanted him to achieve new heights and gain and was proud of his son. He decided to send him to the United States for higher studies.

Partap Singh took admission at the University of Michigan. He started working in factories and farms while continuing with his studies. Soon he passed out from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in political science. However, on completion of his degree, he did not immediately return to India. He had been impressed with the farming techniques that the Americans deployed and was keen to learn all of it, hoping to replicate back home to those. He ended up spending years studying farming methods, working on farms for 12 to 14 hours a day. He decided to return to India when he was convinced that he had learnt it all.


At the time of independence, Partap Singh Kairon held offices in various state authorities. He performed different roles that were constructive . Initially, he was elected as development minister and the rehabilitation minister between 1949 and 1947. The Partition had displaced over 14 million people along religious lines, creating a situation of overwhelming refugee crisis; there were large-scale violence, migration and insanity, with estimates of loss of life, accompanying or preceding the Partition, varying between several hundred thousand and two million. This was a very challenging situation and as the rehab minister, he had to settle millions of refugees who had migrated from West Punjab amidst confusion. Kairon is credited with reestablishing countless East Punjab with job chances but also with homes. He provided stability for them in professions that were new to support themselves and their families.

After attaining political power and seeing success, he never forgot his origins.

Kairon brought in prosperity for Punjab by preparing the ground for the Green Revolution and the growth of industries. He invited industrialists, like the Jaijees and the Oswals, to invest in the nation. Like his dad Nihal Singh, Kairon believed in the value of education. He made primary- and middle-school schooling free and compulsory. He consolidated landholdings in undivided Punjab by pooling fragments of land into chunks that were economically viable –the only state to do thus preparing farms. The legislation that was passed for this assisted farmers not only improving their produce but also bringing them relief from confrontations. A villager by conviction and an American by schooling, Kairon always looked to assist his state’s farmers.

Partap Singh Kairon was considered one of the state’s most progressive minister. According to M Rajiv Lochan, Panjab University, Chandigarh, Partap Singh succeeded in restoring communal harmony, opposing both the Punjabi Suba Movement and the speech movement.5 With the introduction of innovation, Punjab was placed on the industrial map of India. What’s more, the Partition had also cost the nation its capital–Lahore. It now needed a new funding. American architect and planner Albert Mayer was tasked to design a city called Chandigarh in 1949. Kairon, throughout his chief ministership’s years, helped in the creation of Chandigarh, which was completed in 1960. He also assisted in establishing the industrial township of Faridabad the biggest city in the state of a major industrial hub and Haryana.

Punjab became the first state to have power in its villages. The nation’s basic requirement of infrastructure concerning electrification, irrigation and roads were fulfilled. Everything was going well until a tragedy struck.

Read More

Hindustan Unilever became a CEO factory and a company with good middle-class values.

Hindustan Unilever became a CEO factory and a company with good middle-class values.

Under price control soaps and vanaspati were in 1975, making a loss-making firm. HUL [Hindustan Unilever Limited] launched a new brand of premium soap.

Rustomjee, an older sales manager handling MP East, had sent his vendors a note asking them to maintain the launch till he visited the industry so that they could do it using conventional fanfare. A disgruntled distributor in Raigarh (now in Chhattisgarh) sent this to the police, saying that HUL was encouraging hoarding. Remember this was the time of Emergency.

They met a lawyer who said that for a small fee he would definitely get bail as they entered court. On being asked how he was sure, the attorney said that when MK entered the court the judge would wink at him, demonstrating the influence the attorney had on the judge. Sure enough, when MK walked into the courtroom, he was winked at by the judge. The judge maintained Rustomjee and MK waiting for hours. Sensing that the judge would not hear the case that day, thereby keeping Rustomjee in the cooler for the long Holi weekend, MK requested Rustomjee to leave the court and go to Raipur.

MK told the judge that being old, and being a heart patient, equally accurate, Rustomjee had abandoned for Raipur where he could get medical aid. The judge immediately issued a non-bailable warrant and sent the police to bring Rustomjee back. A despondent MK walked from the courtroom on to the street, only to find Rustomjee. There was no way Rustomjee would leave a young manager of the business at the mercy of a judge. Had the judge locked up for obstructing the legislation MK, Rustomjee was intending to present himself. MK sent Rustomjee and himself went to the Jabalpur High Court. Using HUL’s credibility and the stature of their counsel, rather than clarify the situation in an open court, there was a chamber hearing requested. The high court judge not only granted bail to Rustomjee but after a few hearings even quashed the criminal complaint.

While in Jabalpur MK got to be aware that the business sales officer in Jabalpur had either intentionally or inadvertently tipped the distributor which the first letter of Rustomjee could be misconstrued as hoarding. Peeved at him, as was the custom in those days, MK didn’t go to meet with him. Back after a successful outcome and a few days, MK was amazed to find an official reprimand letter. ‘It was unacceptable,’ the letter said,’to get a covenanted manager when in his city, to not visit with a salesman.’ The letter was on the confidential file of MK till he retired.

This story reveals many facets of HUL covered in the book. The drive for profitability in launch Lux Supreme when confronted with price controls. The profound belief in marketing even one of field sales managers. The sales system’s dedication to providing the very best in the marketplace by the manager being present for the launching in a little town to it. Integrity as evinced by the refusal to cover what could easily have been called a lawyer’s fee. The courage and presence of mind by asking the sales manager to 25, in taking a risk with the law of a company attorney. The caring showed by a veteran towards a younger manager. The ability of HUL, built by its reputation, to move mountains to have a special hearing of a case. Of having a meal at a salesperson’s house if you visit with his town, the simple middle-class value. The HR systems that picked up a policy violation and sent a reprimand notice.

I can not think. A few would have done some. But there is one in this story that HUL could have done. Reprimanding a successful result, because it involved what in hindsight was an incredibly small transgression – not having dinner in the Jabalpur salesperson’s house. But that is how HUL works. Much, far more a good one, although this is exactly what makes a CEO Factory and it a great company.

Read More