Hari Shankar Singhania, patriarch of the Delhi branch of the JK Group, was part of a famous triumvirate of first cousins — comprising, besides himself, Gaur Hari Singhania of the Kanpur branch of the family and Vijaypat Singhania of the Mumbai-based Raymonds Group — that, in the 1970s and 1980s, led the combined group to the No. 3 position in the hierarchy of Indian business houses, after the Tatas and Birlas.
“Excellence comes not from mere words but from an urge to strive and deliver the best every time. It is a mindset that comes from a drive within,” he told Hindustan Times in his last interview to any newspaper or television channel last year.
Hari Shankar, an avid gardener and keen photographer, was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2003.
He joined the family business at the age of 18 in Kanpur in 1951 but soon shifted base to Kolkata and later to Delhi, where he earned his spurs, setting up and leading a diversified set of businesses ranging from tyres and tubes, paper and cement, among many others.
Like many business leaders of his generation Singhania was known for his simplicity and his interest in philanthropic activities in healthcare, adult education and women’s empowerment.
The JK Group patriarch, who led IIM Lucknow for 15 years as its chairman, was awarded the highest Swedish award, Royal Order of the Polar Star by the King of Sweden in 2005 for his contribution to Indo-Swedish business ties.