Lalit Mohan Thapar, LMT to friends, died on Wednesday night following cardiac and renal failure after a prolonged illness. A doyen of Indian Industry he was instrumental in building one of India's biggest corporate houses - the Thapar group - which includes the Ballarpur Industries Ltd, (BILT), the largest paper manufacturing company in the country, as well as Crompton and JCT.
Thapar also took over The Pioneer newspaper in 1991 and ran it till 1998 when it was sold to the present management.
Son of Karam Chand Thapar, LMT remained a lifelong bachelor. Apart from his enterpreneural skills, he was known for his generosity, love of life and passion for sport. After handing over the baton of BILT to his nephew Gautam Thapar over the past few years, he was back to pursuing his love for horses and music, particularly vocal classical music. Poker and bridge too were also his regular pastimes.
He was also a great fighter and effectively steered the change for BILT from operating in a controlled regime to competing in the free market economy. He had the acumen to select the right people for the right job, which were proven when he made Gautam his successor at the helm of BILT, who in turn guided the company to become globally competitive.
“LMT will be remembered for his generosity. He was a man with heart and great vision,” said Hemant Luthra, president of Mahindra & Mahindra, who spent 18 years with BILT.
“I have had the privilege of working with two great family Mahindra and Thapars who believe in empowering employees, in trust and delegation of work,” he added.
“When I lost my parents and wife, LMT stood with me like a rock and never allowed me to feel the vacuum,” he recalled. It was LMT who urged Luthra to remarry after some years had passed.
“When I found someone who was in the US,” Luthra recalled, "I asked him whether, while I travel to Europe on official work, I could extend my journey to the US and bill it to the company since my salary was not enough to support the trip. He replied, 'As long as you give me a running commentary on the progress, I wouldn’t mind.'"