Seth Walchand Hirachand (1882 - 1953)
Born in Solapur, Maharashtra, Seth Walchand Hirachand transcended his rural roots to implement a vision of an independent India founded on genuine Indian enterprise, skills and capabilities.
Realizing the importance of transport for growth of the country’s economy, he began to lay the groundwork for improved mobility of people and goods, which are integral in the improvement of living conditions.
During the country’s struggle for freedom, he ventured into areas that would strengthen India’s industrial development. His focus was primarily on all spectrums of the transport industry.
To facilitate the assembly and repair of war planes, he established Hindustan Aircrafts Ltd, which was nationalized for strategic reasons after independence. Rechristened Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., this company went on to become a legend in the aviation industry.
Seth Walchand also forayed into shipping and ship building, establishing the Scindia Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. in Mumbai and the Hindustan Shipyard in Vishakhapatnam.
He even pioneered the surface transport industry in India with Premier Automobiles Ltd. (now known as Premier Ltd.) in 1944. Initially assembling Chrysler vehicles, the company went on become the country’s leading automobile company.
In addition, Seth Walchand ventured in to heavy engineering, steel pipes and pen-stock in large and medium engineering industries. He also contributed to the agro sector by setting up plants to produce sugar from sugarcane.
All these industries gave India a much-needed shot in the arm in the post independence era. They provided the basic infrastructure as well as employment to a large section of the people.
Seth Walchand believed that India could not afford to rest on past glory, and that constant, intelligent growth and forward momentum are vital. To make this possible, he initiated and set up a number of educational institutions to facilitate this dream.