With the demise of Satyanand Munjal at the age of 99, the eldest among four brothers who founded Hero Cycles Group in Amritsar in 1943, an entire first generation of founding members of the cycle giant came to an end on Thursday.
Owing to ailments due to increasing age, Munjal breathed his last at his residence in Model Town, Ludhiana, he was survived by five sons and two daughters.
Popular as ‘Mahatma’ in business as well as social circuits in New Delhi and Punjab for his philanthropic and spiritual contributions, Munjal after migrating to India after partition made his way from rags to riches.
What began as a small time cycle mudguard manufacturing unit in Ludhiana, later established itself as one of the largest cycle manufacturers in the world.
Satyanand along with his brothers who are also partners in various holdings of the group, after building a business empire, aligned himself to undertake various humanitarian causes.
SK Rai, managing director, Hero Cycles Ltd, said, “Apart from meeting his routine professional obligations, Mahatma Munjal also ensured that he devoted enough time and money for uplifting society. He was deeply religious soul and revived Arya Samaj culture in the region. He knew how to strike the right chord between professional and personal lives.”
At professional front, he always laid great emphasis on improve upon the level of productivity and quality measures. He ensured the same by sharing a personal bond with the labourers working in his factories. He always persuaded his workers by taking care of their personal as well as professional needs. With concerted efforts of all four brothers, Hero group saw itself becoming one of the largest manufacturers of the world in 1983.
Back in 1986, Hero Cycles manufactured more than 18,500 cycles in a single day, owing to the highest global reckoning and a 48% share of the Indian market, the volume catapulted the group in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world.
Girl education was high on his list of priorities. He ran a Kanya Gurukul at Shastri Nagar which currently houses more than 180 girls coming from economically weaker sections of society. Apart from providing free education to the girls, the gurukul also took care of their accommodation and food expenses. He extensively propagated the teachings of the Arya Samaj in the later part of his life.
Apart from building a business empire, his philanthropic acts such as Bahadur Chand Munjal (BCM) Arya Schools, Hero DMC Heart Institute, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) remained his most notable works.
Avtar Bhogal, director, Bhogal and Sons, is one of the oldest manufacturers (since 1938 as claimed) of cycle and cycle parts, said, “More than for his business acumen, he was admired for his inclinations towards social causes and spiritualism. He practiced meditation and visited temple on daily basis. Owing to his calm poise, he attained the image of an ascetic. Although, he attended, but kept himself aloof in swanky business parties.”
Charanjit Vishivkarma, president, United Cycle Parts and Manufacturers’ Association (UCPMA) said Satyanand was one of the founding members of the Asia’s biggest cycling association and made several important decisions to uplift the business scene of the cycle industry of the country.
Apart from building temples, Munjal also built an auditorium for the association and ensured that cycle, which was considered a common man’s vehicle, is available to everyone at affordable prices.