Doyen of the cycle industry and Hero Cycles founder chairman OP Munjaldies in passed away following a cardiac arrest here on Thursday morning. He was 86.
Munjal was admitted to Hero Heart Institute at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital here on Monday after he felt uneasy. He was not keeping well for the past sometime and had handed over the reins of the company to son Pankaj Munjal last month.
Munjal, who was born on August 26, 1928 in Pakistan, along with brothers Vijay, Satyanand and Brijmohan, had started the cycle spare parts business in Amritsar in 1944, but shifted to Ludhiana later and established a cycle manufacturing company in 1956. In the 1980s, Hero Cycles became the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world.
From initially manufacturing 40 cycles a day in 1956, the company’s Ludhiana unit now manufactures nearly 20,000 cycles a day and has become one of the largest bicycle companies in the world. The name of the company is also recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The company has reached a turnover of Rs 1,634 crore per year.
Munjal, who was fond of Urdu poetry, was also a philanthropist as he extended financial help to many health and educational institutes.
Munjal had received the Indira Gandhi National Unity Award in 1990, Sahir Award in 1994 for his contribution to literature, and Punjab Rattan Award for his contribution to business.
Reacting to his demise, Avon Cycles managing director Onkar Singh Pahwa said Munjal had raised a vast empire of cycle industry across the world with hard work and dedication. “This is not a loss only to the Ludhiana industry but also to the cycle industry of the world. Despite being his competitor, I respected him,” Pahwa said, adding that Munjal provided hope to a large number of cycle parts manufacturers of Ludhiana who used to sell their goods to his company.
Avtar Singh Bhogal, son of another doyen of cycle industry, MS Bhogal, said his father and Munjal were close friends and had done a lot for the cycle industry of Ludhiana. “The first factory by my father was set up close to Hero Cycles,” Bhogal said, adding that Munjal personally took care of his workers.
In a condolence message, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal recalled the immense contribution made by Munjal in bringing Ludhiana on to the industrial map of the world. Badal said, “It is a huge personal loss to me. The life of the great entrepreneur will act as a source of inspiration for the coming generations.”
Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh said Munjal’s death is a great loss to the industry, especially the cycle industry, which he groomed and nourished all his life.