There are some people in this world that make it a better place simply by being in it. They walk through life touching the lives of everyone they meet. My grandfather was such a person – he was a patriot, visionary, entrepreneur, social worker, people’s person, devoted husband, loving father and caring grandfather. He was our hero … and I can’t imagine life being nearly as complete without him in it.
How do I even begin to put into words what it was like to have Dr Brijmohan Lall Munjal as my grandfather? It meant always having what you need when you needed it the most. He was the perfect example of humility, hard work & dedication; a true role model for one to emulate. He poured his heart into everything he did. Whether it was business, spending time with his family, or showing the importance of doing every little thing properly – he did it with grace. When he dedicated himself to something, he gave it a hundred percent and did it for life.
Imagine being born in 1923, when undivided India was still ruled by the British. In his lifetime he saw the partition, raising of the tricolor, License Raj, unshackling of the economy, the internet age. I have tried to imagine what he has seen throughout his years, but it’s almost incomprehensible. Not only did my grandfather live through all of this, he did so with dignity, hard work and a wonderful sense of service to others. In his lifetime, he saw a changing world and moved with the times, evolving not only his way of life, but also his way of thinking. His extraordinary story of entrepreneurship in the face of adversity is legendary. It is the tale of a man who has lived his life on the principle that if you work hard and be good to people around you, success in business will, inevitably, follow.
My great grandparents, along with their children, migrated from Pakistan during the partition and had to rebuild their lives starting from a refugee colony. My grandfather and his brothers began their journey by repairing cycles on the roadside, and eventually set up Hero Cycles in 1956. From then on, they went from strength to strength. I remember asking my grandfather a couple of years ago what was their goal when they started Hero Cycles. Did they ever imagine that it would become the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer? His reply was “In business, I have always viewed targets as lamp posts; far enough from one another yet close enough to show the path. Our first target was to survive, and then to continuously expand; we didn’t even know we had become the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer until we read it in a magazine”. Until the last day he was eager to reach the next goal.
When we approached him in 2010 to name the University after him, he was taken aback. His first reaction was that he hadn’t done anything to deserve this honor; such was his humility. He would often quote “There is no greater investment and no better return than that in education. It benefits not only an individual but society at large.” Though he himself didn’t complete school, he ensured that wherever a factory was established, a school followed.
After he agreed to the naming of this University, he wanted us to give the best education possible. He wanted our focus to be on nurturing students to become leaders with high ethical standards, knowledge, and the skills required for success in life.
He is definitely remembered by all with great admiration and even greater love.