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India's 10 Greatest Businessmen
Though entrepreneurship in India isn't new, Indian business has come a long way. There are numerous Indian companies listed on the Fortune 500 and a huge number of Indian billionaires.
Aspiring businessmen and women looking for inspiration would do well to study the achievements of India's greatest businessmen. Some on the list are especially inspiring because they managed to make their fortune during British rule when the environment was not conducive for business and particularly for Indian business. The ones who succeeded in that environment went the extra mile to succeed. This list will give you a broad outline of the amazing journey some of these tycoons took.
Let's go back in history and celebrate the achievements of some of these greats.
1. Dhirubhai Ambani (1932 – 2002)
Dhirubhai Ambani is the most famous businessman in all of India. Even a five-year-old knows about him - or at least will recognize his last name. Ambani's journey took him from his life as a student in the dusty lanes of a small village in Gujarat to the major seaport city of Aden and finally to Bombay where he becomes the doyen of the Indian industry.
Though he wanted to continue his studies after finishing school, Dhirubhai could not afford to do so. So, he instead went to Aden, Yemen to earn money and improve his financial condition. In Aden, he worked as a clerk for a trading firm. In those days, Aden was the second-busiest port in the world, and traders from across the world came here for business. He learned the ins and outs of trading and read everything that he could lay his hands on.
When British rule in Yemen came to an end, many Indian expatriates went either to Britain in search of a better life or came back in India. Dhirubhai chooses the latter and started his first business, Majin, with a cousin. He then quickly launched out on his own, founding Reliance Industries in 1966. As of now, the combined fortune of his family tops out at 60 billion dollars, making them one of the wealthiest families in the world. As of 2012, Reliance employs over 85,000 people and is responsible for over 5% of India's tax revenue.
Undoubtedly, he is the most famous Indian businessman of all time.
If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.
— Dhirubhai Ambani
2. Ghanshyam Das Birla (1894 – 1983)
Inheriting his family’s money-lending business, Birla diversified into manufacturing. He moved to Calcutta to establish a textiles business, much to the displeasure of European and British merchants in the area, who did their best to shut Birla’s business down. Birla had to overcome not only resistance from established players but also the biased policies of the British government which discriminated against Bengali traders.
In the 1940s, Birla purchased Hindustan Motors and continued to diversify his business, investing in tea, cement, chemicals, and rayon. He was also the first Indian to found a commercial bank, the United Commercial Bank Limited. Now Aditya Birla group operates in more than 33 countries, employs over 133,000 people and has annual revenues of over $35 billion.
Birla also founded the Birla Engineering College - now the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, which is now one of the nation’s best engineering schools.
3. Ardeshir Godrej (1868 – 1936)
Ardeshir Godrej started out by studying law but didn't find much success as a lawyer. So, he went to Bombay and worked as an assistant to a chemist. Because of his great business sense of business, he saw everything as a business opportunity.
Taking a loan from his father's friend he started to manufacture medical equipment used in surgery, such as scalpels, surgeon's scissors, forceps, etc. When he was satisfied that the quality of his equipment was world-class, he approached the boss of the company he was working for. His boss thought the equipment was great, but rejected the "Made in India" label, believing it wouldn't be marketable. Ardeshir wouldn't budge and the venture never materialized.
Later, one morning he read in the newspaper that burglary rates in Bombay were increasing and that locks weren't working as well as they should. He saw that as a business opportunity and started to research lock making. This venture was so successful he is now known as the lockmaster of India.
Then he also made the first soap ever without animal fat: Cinthol, which is still used by millions of people.
The locks made his company famous and now the Godrej group has diversified itself in the business of real estate, appliances, security, FMCG products, etc.
4. Govindram Seksaria (1888 – 1946)
Not many people may know about him, but Govindram Seksaria is the most famous businessman in pre-independence India. At that time, British rule made it difficult for Indians to enter into business. Foreign businesses controlled most of India’s trade and those businesses were in turn supported by the government. But that didn’t deter Govindram. Govindram first joined the Bombay Cotton Exchange and was so successful as a cotton trader that he became known as the Cotton King of the World.
After his success in the cotton market, Govindram diversified and began trading in bullion and other commodities. A founding member of the Indian Stock Exchange, Govindram founded Govindram Brothers Private Limited in 1937. This company got into the sugar, textile, minerals, banking, printing, and movie businesses. In addition to founding the Bank of Rajasthan, he also was a principal donor in establishing Bombay Hospital.
Considering the hostile environment for Indians at the time of British Raj; Govindram is nothing short of a pearl in the ocean.
5. Bhai Mohan Singh (1917 – 2006)
Bhai Mohan Singh is a pioneering figure in India’s pharmaceutical industry. He began his career in the construction industry, winning contracts to build roads in northeastern India during WWII. After independence, Singh entered into the money lending business, which is how he came to acquire Ranbaxy from his cousins after the company defaulted on some loans. Once Singh took over, he partnered with an Italian pharmaceutical company Lapetit Spa, which he later purchased.
In the 1960s, Singh launched an Indian version of valium called Calmpose and went on to release a series of blockbuster drugs. In 1999, Singh was replaced by his eldest son in a boardroom coup. Awarded the Padma Shri for his civic contributions, Singh died in 2006.
6. Jamsetji Tata (1839 – 1904)
Jamshetji Tata is the founder of the Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate which employs more than four lakh people and enjoys the revenue of over $83 billion.
He started out by setting up cotton mills in Bombay and then Nagpur. His dream was to set-up an iron and steel company, an institution of science, a world-class hotel, and a hydro-electric plant.
He only fulfilled one of these dreams in his lifetime: the Taj Mahal hotel, near the Gateway of India close to the Mumbai shoreline. According to legend, he wanted to found a world-class hotel because he was denied entry to a luxury hotel when he was visiting another country. Now, the Taj Mahal hotel is one of the most renowned in the world.
When you have to give the lead in action, in ideas – a lead which does not fit in with the very climate of opinion – that is true courage, physical or mental or spiritual, call it what you like, and it is this type of courage and vision that Jamsetji Tata showed. It is right that we should honour his memory and remember him as one of the big founders of modern India.
— Jawaharlal Nehru on Jamshetji Tata
7. Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (1904 – 1993)
If Jamsetji Tata started it, then J.R.D. Tata was the one who turned the Tata Group into an incredible success. J.R.D. Tata was also the one who fulfilled Jamsetji's final three wishes. Currently, the Tata Group owns and operates
- Tata Steel - Asia's first and India's largest steel company. It is also the fifth largest steel company in the world, producing over 28 million tons per year.
- Indian Institute of Sciences - India's pre-eminent research institution for science and engineering.
- Tata Power - India's largest private electric power company.
JRD Tata was an aviator and was India's first licensed pilot. He set up India's first commercial airline company known as Tata Airlines in 1932 which was rechristened as Air India in 1946 and is now India's national airline. For his achievement in business, he was awarded the highest civilian award of India: Bharat Ratna.
8. Kailash Chandra Mahindra (1894 – 1963)
K.C. Mahindra was born in 1894 in the Punjab, the second of nine children. After studying at Cambridge, for a brief while he worked at Messrs. Martin & Company editing monthly magazines INDIA and the Hindustan Review.
In the 1940s, he went into the energy business and helped develop the nation’s coal policy by implementing the latest methods of coal mining.
In 1946, he moved to Bombay to found Mahindra & Mohammed, which became an industrial powerhouse in many sectors of the economy. One of the founders was his brother Jagdish Chandra Mahindra and the other one was his close friend Ghulam Mohammad. But after India's partition, Ghulam Mohammad went to Pakistan and the company was renamed as Mahindra and Mahindra.He was also director of RBI, Air India, Hindustan Steel, and Chairman of the Indian Aluminium Company.
If J.C Mahindra was the dreamer then K.C Mahindra was the implementer. K.C Mahindra was known for his micro-approach to everything and was a great executor.
9. Verghese Kurien (1921 – 2012)
Verghese Kurien used his entrepreneurial skills to enrich not only himself but also all of India. The “Father of the White Revolution,” Kurien planned and implemented Operation Flood, the world’s largest agricultural development program, which turned India into the world’s largest milk producer. He helped make dairy farming a self-sufficient and sustaining industry.
Kurien is also the founder of the Amul brand of dairy products, which invented milk powder processed from buffalo milk rather than cow milk. One of the world’s strongest proponents of cooperative movements, his work has lifted millions of Indians out of poverty.
His birth anniversary is now celebrated as National Milk Day in respect of his great achievements.
10. Walchand Hirachand Doshi (1882 – 1953)
Walchand Hirachand didn't belong to a wealthy family. His father was a small-time money lender but he had set his ambition on something bigger. He dreamt big and made that happen.
Simple living and big thinking were Walchand's foremost traits.
He got started first as a railway contractor in partnership with Laxmanroa Phatak who was a railway clerk. Walchand was not content to sit quietly; he was always incredibly ambitious and worked actively to achieve his goals. While a railway contractor, Walchand bought a foundry and then a mining lease. Whatever business he got into, Walchand grabbed it with both hands. However, these decisions didn't sit well with his partner, who wanted to concentrate on a single business rather than diversifying. His partner soon quit.
The original firm found it difficult to get large projects because of its small size so he decided it to merge with the Tata group. Walchand directed and oversaw some of the biggest construction projects of the pre-independence era. The construction company he founded was later named Premier Construction, with a major stake owned by Tata.
In his later years, he went on to start a shipping company, the Scindia Steam Navigation Company which went on to grab 21% of the Indian coastal traffic. He then went on to found the first Indian aircraft company, the Hindustan Aircraft, first modern shipyard, known as Hindustan Shipyard Limited, and finally, the first car manufacturing plant, Premier Automobiles.
India's Greatest Businessmen
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the most successful entrepreneurs and businessmen of India's history. I hope it will inspire us all to try to succeed as creators of great economic power!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Aarav
SethuRaman on August 06, 2020:
It is very usful and motivation for
Sahil ali on July 13, 2020:
I saluted the self made's
JASWANT RAI DAROCH on April 26, 2020:
I am really appreciated his hard work and good command to dedicate about his work.
rajesh kumar sharma on April 19, 2020:
Kubera on February 19, 2020:
Every one like
Harish Kumar KHATRI on July 20, 2019:
Hamare Nawalgarh ka naam Roshan Kiya
Sumit yadav on May 16, 2019:
Inspires better but could not as some one's can by advising
kailashchandra gore on February 22, 2019:
very very inspiring personalities for everyone. I like.
aditya on January 15, 2019:
Best.Nice. we can give 5 stars.help for project work.
Rekha on December 24, 2018:
Gudiya Pal on December 24, 2018:
This is help to all students
Harinimahendran on November 20, 2018:
Couldnt even think of such kind of personalities "enterpernship is the capacity to translate vision into reality"
People something great
guri on October 30, 2018:
i love tata gruop because they do 65% of charity which they earn from their profit
Madhusudhana k v on July 16, 2018:
Wow super sir jiii.....really am proud to on networking and direct marketing ......I am realy proud to on galway direct marketing company......
smp on July 12, 2018:
I am inspired to Ambani
Teevra prakash on July 03, 2018:
Which of the following was a scientist as well as a great industrialist who founded many industries in India?
TaNuj on June 30, 2018:
This is very much inspiring for me n all of us
Pooja on May 23, 2018:
Help full to students
Shivam kumar on May 16, 2018:
Business is best way to live free
Matteda.kishore on May 14, 2018:
I am inspired to ambani sir
meenakshi saharan on March 21, 2018:
Hi @kannanreddy, thank you for writing this post. The information that you provided is inspirational and interesting at the same time.
Sateesh on November 17, 2017:
Inspiration moment and selute for all great full man's
Aarav (author) from Mumbai on November 08, 2017:
@MomsTreasureChest Indeed, Ambanis' are inspirational. Moreover, his son Mukesh Ambani is now Asia's richest person.
MomsTreasureChest on November 08, 2017:
Very interesting and inspiring stories of success. I particularly liked the quote: If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs by Dhirubhai Ambani.
Aarav (author) from Mumbai on October 22, 2017:
@Ani Happy to help.
Ani on October 22, 2017:
Helped me in projects
Shubham Sali on October 06, 2017:
Inspired me a lot and filled me with a positive energy
teja on September 17, 2017:
i am inspired to Ambani sir
shruti on September 11, 2017:
aaliyah on August 27, 2017:
very helpful .... very well written....... thanks for making my work a lot more easier ;)
simon on August 08, 2017:
tanmayi on August 08, 2017:
I am really very inspired by sir ambani and would like to be a successful person in my life as he is today
sachin yadav on March 09, 2017:
im really fully inspired by the ambanies life style how he grew with struggle n obstacle with zero base to hero position really awesome....
Siddu on February 06, 2017:
All of them are greater , they made India shine . But Verghese Kurien is more highlighted person in this list because he also support for public as much as possible 'his work has lifted millions of Indians out of poverty' that make as good in public services also . This 'His birth anniversary is now celebrated as National Milk Day in respect of his great achievements ' great to know this . Hatts off .
kiran kumar on December 12, 2016:
Hatts off to my inspiration, D AMBANI JI
Aarav (author) from Mumbai on November 08, 2016:
@Kevinesh Well said!!!
Kevinesh on November 08, 2016:
ALL OF THEM ARE GEMS AND EXCELLENT AS EQUALLY TALENTED IN THEIR FIELD. THE MOST IMPORTANT THAT THEY HAD WERE HOPE, DETERMINATION AND IN LOVE/PASSION IN WHAT THEY DO. AS THE RESULT, THEY HAVE NOT ONLY CHANGED THEIR LIVES ABOVE ALL EVERY SINGLE PERSON LIVES IN INDIA FOREVER. MAKING INDIA PROUD WITH THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS AND THE GROWTH OF THE COUNTRY.
Pooja shah on August 26, 2016:
their efforts and high thinking made them a successful people...simple living high thinking ....which leads to success.....
siddharth Indrajit on July 19, 2016:
Indeed entrepreneurs play an important role when it comes to development. India has witnessed lots of entrepreneurs in the past and will witness it for long. Tech Start Ups have actually sparked up India and taken a big leap in this competing world. Along with tech even infrastructure industry is growing with a much higher pace. Entrepreneurs like Oberois, Raheja, Rustumjee, Varun Manian (Radiance Realty) -http://varunmanian.info/ , Adityaram Group are working hard towards the real estate market and try and make it affordable for the people. Even some of the entrepreneurs are working on Transport and Communication sector making this world a better place.
AFIFA on July 03, 2016:
JRD Tata is one of my inspiration
nareshkhatik on June 30, 2016:
this man great success are that life statuble..
Rupam yadav on June 28, 2016:
What a great person all above these. I SALUT THEM
dinesh shukla on June 12, 2016:
rani on June 09, 2016:
we are felling very proud about indian good business mens
vikram khatri on May 30, 2016:
The next one is me
Wait for my name also very soon
Tushar patil on May 29, 2016:
THE BEST ONE IS DHIRUBHAI AMBANI SIR,MY BEST INSPIRATION EVER I WISH THAT I CAN ALSO BE ABLE TO DO THIS TYPE OF STRUGGLE
amar khurana on May 13, 2016:
proud to be indian,,Inspired by the greatest industrialist of india. all these people are instrumental in giving us the motivation and hope to dream big in life.I solute to all for being instrumental in taking india to new heights in respective fields.
Anand on May 09, 2016:
A very well written article! Definitely inspiring to see how they beat all the odds to become successful.
Thulasi ram.p on March 25, 2016:
Is a great man .I thinking positive and I achieve something .my role model Dhirubhai Ambani.
Rakesh on March 23, 2016:
I love to learn the great businessman from lower to upper level
Sudarshan on December 23, 2015:
All of them I am going to be one of them soon......
vinodkumar on November 15, 2015:
sabka andaaz alag hai..every1 successed within different fields..so think different n do diffrnt and be different..
Vinu patidar on November 03, 2015:
Hosale bulande to har kaam aasan lageta hi bus lage raho
Mohit senger on October 30, 2015:
Successful business sirf peso nhi ek ache idea Se successful business banta h....or ek or businessman a rha h Mohit Senger ok
Khumesh on October 21, 2015:
I like all 10 Indian Entrepreneurs: Greatest Businessman From History and his current generation as well and i inspired all of them and i am trying to be
Thanks all Greatest Businessman of history
I salute them
karan mishra on October 13, 2015:
thanks for inspire me ..... i tried all efforts of mine and now i have 3 factories
of plastic and tyres moulding at the age of 27....
Anupam Patra on October 03, 2015:
I love entreprenure . Who take any risk . &any other decision
ALI HUSSAIN on September 26, 2015:
i like 10 successful man
priya kashyap on September 13, 2015:
thank you so much for this information
Vishnu musne on September 04, 2015:
Life me kuch bhi ho sakta hai
shivendra kumar sinha on August 09, 2015:
These all people are inspired to myself...
sudhir chaudhary .ansh. on August 06, 2015:
Thease stories motivate the youngsters and it will make new entrepreneurs...
Mayookh on June 30, 2015:
Marvelous and inspiring indeed.Our indian enterpreneurs did so splendid in business even in a situation when the conditions of the businessmen were deplorable.
rizwan seliya on June 10, 2015:
No comments yar.
What a history yar..
vaibhav on May 16, 2015:
Encourage but comptetion level high, gud business needs more money
Atul yadav on May 07, 2015:
this time very important
Aarav (author) from Mumbai on April 30, 2015:
@supreet Thanks for the encouraging word and the visit.
supreet.. on April 30, 2015:
1st time i am giving feedback relating to any article. Really very motivational Article..thanks for posting it..Do Hard work & Hope 4 the best.
sihal on April 29, 2015:
If i earn mony right way that time I part above Team and thanks all articals
Ramprasanth on April 29, 2015:
This peoples are long time india definitely united is tacking in united states of India achieve conform nothing is impossible
amit dargar on April 22, 2015:
इन सभी ने जिंदगी मेँ बहुत मेहनत के साथ ये मुकाम हासिल किया हे लेकिन इस मेहनत के पीछे कहीँ भी शामिल हे जिसे भुलाया नहीँ जा सकता
sarithareddy on April 14, 2015:
all are very great persons
Raj Rathor on April 05, 2015:
Nothing imposible but every thing is possible
Jo socho bo kro aor hr sapna sakar kro, hr icchha ko pura kro aor dunia me apne nam ka jhanda lahra do,,,,,, i am best, successful topno. Businessman,,,,,,, ok uuuuuu
Me raj rathor 2030 last tk puri dunia me apne hi nam ke nare lge ge ek success aor helpful,,,, ",,"",",,,,"
Raj mishra on March 12, 2015:
Good luck .Good Lisan .Good tok
chinna on March 08, 2015:
They made a strong way for upcoming businessman ....
Aarav (author) from Mumbai on February 21, 2015:
@Nirav parmar All the best!
Nirav parmar on February 21, 2015:
Dhirubhai....my best....and their way I improve my life on new way....I start to try now
Aarav (author) from Mumbai on February 21, 2015:
@prasenjeet So true!
prasenjeet on February 21, 2015:
The secret of the world
Inshan Jo sochta hai wahi hota hai
Power of mind
Rajkishore Pradhan on February 15, 2015:
I want to say thanks the person who post this articles because i didn't knew about the backstory of successful entrepreneurs of india. I will be an entrepreneur in future to develop my country economy condition.
jyoti on February 12, 2015:
I like all businessman of World. zindgi aisi Hai Ki Jahan Kuch Bhi impossible Nhi
gopal prajapati on January 17, 2015:
hard work+positive thinking=success
susanta dash on January 09, 2015:
indasterlist is god
MAHENDRA BENIWAL on January 02, 2015:
LAGAN AUR MEHANT SE MNUSHY KUCH BI KAR SKTA HAI,
LIFE ME AAGE BADNE KE LIYE PARESHANI TO UTHANI PADTI HAI PAR JAB VO RANG LATI HAI TO SARI THAKAN DUR HO JATI HAI.
Aarav (author) from Mumbai on December 26, 2014:
@Rajat May all your wishes come true. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Rajat on December 26, 2014:
Hum bhi inhe ke tarah khuch karna chahta hu life me..
Kahate hai na jidhar chah hai udhar rah so..
So Best of Luck Guy's..
satish singh on December 24, 2014:
''They have all redey make history but you are a reader.
NO you can do so think about it because you will be a no-1 business man in the WORLD''
vikram saini on November 19, 2014:
हम भी बनाएगे एक इतिहास ।।।मेक इन इंडिया।। मेड इन इंडिया । मेड फॉर इंडिया।।। जय भारत
shivaji chichakote on November 16, 2014:
jemashedji tata is a father of industrial development, is a very unique personality and im inspired by this .
Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on November 11, 2014:
Indian people work a lot to get were they want to go. My respect for the good people that work a lot and respect others. History is made by different people. I am certain that are other successful business people that are not on the list because they were busy working or they did not want to be public. They like their privacy. I like your article.
visha pandey on November 11, 2014:
Sapne or hosle bade hone chahiye kuch kar dikhane ka jajba insan ko uski manjil tak pahuchati hai. I salute all business man n specially salute dhirubhai ambani........one day I also become successful businessman
kunal on October 10, 2014:
Its inspire me to became like them
kunal on October 10, 2014:
I will next like them
nikki on September 29, 2014:
mukesh kangasiya on September 09, 2014:
This is opportunity to learn about leader of buissnessmam.
m.m.sodha on August 23, 2014:
thinking better ,and i aspire this story become a great business.
quraisholdboys on August 21, 2014:
Salute to all of u
Stab dey on August 05, 2014:
I love Dhlrubhal Ambani's story..
sunil singh on June 12, 2014:
Ardeshir Godrej inapire me to from his tqo biggest failure to increadble success.
PRAMOD WAREKAR on February 19, 2014:
JRD TATA............ GREAT INDIAN BUSSINESSMEN