“Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani”
he meaning of this Bhagvad Gita Shloka is: ‘You have authority (control) over your own actions i.e. you are totally competent and independent to do any action you like but then you have no claim (control) on the fruits of your actions. That means you are not competent enough and you have no power or authority to escape or avoid facing the resultant fruits of your action, Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty’.
Such is the nature of Nagpur based global industrialist Padmesh Gupta whose first name translates into Lord Vishnu — the creator. His achievements are mindboggling but he does not stop to notice this fact and just goes on doing his duties as a businessman, son, husband, father & employer. After achieving great heights of success, he does not rest on his laurels and keeps looking for new business opportunities. He is a man hungry for knowledge and achievement, not for money and fame.
In an interaction with Nagpur Today, the virtuous Padmesh Gupta talks frankly and openly about his childhood, his struggle as breadwinner for the family at the young age of 16, and the various hardships he had to face to reach the position he is in today. He agreed for this interview to inspire and encourage young entrepreneurs of India. He takes great pride in being an Indian and sees India at the top of the world in the next ten years. Following is the excerpt:
Nagpur Today: How would you describe himself as a person?
Padmesh Gupta: I would like to describe my attitude as a householder in one line: ‘Simple living and high thinking.” Owing to my busy schedule, I have compartmentalized my life. Sundays and holidays are devoted entirely to family. On Sunday, the first half is devoted to my parents. My mother is a great devotee of Lord Krishna and Radharani. Every Sunday morning, they have a Satsang where friends and relatives gather to sing devotional songs and bhajans. Being disciplined about timings, We husband and wife get up at 5:30 am sharp and go for a walk. You could call me “Shravan Kumar” as far as my mother Shyama Gupta is concerned and rightly so, she is quite a woman! Wife Anuradha (who is from Gorakhpur) manages the home front devotedly. She has stood by me in bad weather as well as good times. She makes the atmosphere in the house congenial for me. My mother and wife have brought up their three sons — Anurag, Kaustabh and Yash — singlehandedly. To be franc, I must admit that I have never been to their school. What I love best about my children is that, like me they are totally grounded with no hang-ups. What really impressed me was — Every year they go on a pilgrimage in ordinary three tier.
Nagpur Today: Your strengths in life?
Padmesh Gupta: My mother and my wife are my pillars of strength in my life, my grandfather, my teacher and inspiration. You never know what life may show you and must be prepared for all eventualities. Nothing else will grow under the branches of Banyan tree. So, it is better to plant something far away.
Nagpur Today: You have been known as great struggler. Please elaborate.
Padmesh Gupta: In 1972, nationalization of forest took place and my family’s fortunes deteriorated after that. Our assets were nationalized and they had no liquidity. One sister and one aunt was still to be married. So, at the tender age of sixteen, I set out to find work with savings of Rs 16,000. My friends were all CAs and hence I wanted to be a CA too but did not have the time or money. At that time, through my grandfather he came to know that there was a requirement of one truck of coal at Bhilwara industries. The cost of the truck load was Rs 16,000. So I broke my FD, bought the coal and delivered it. The payment came after three months.
I then started visiting Kamptee Colliery for J.K. Cement, Nagpur as loading supervisor and for labour payment. I would reach at 6.30 in the morning and come home at 10-11 p.m. The utility box of my scooter was my office. I would load the trucks and even write the lorry receipts myself; all that exposure to sun even caused me sunstroke. I had to stop working and started getting desperate phone calls from H.S. Grewal of J.K. Group every day. One day he made a lightning call to me and said throw all my problems in the “bhatti” and get back to work. Within two hours, I was back at Kamptee, cursing Grewal all the way. But then, Grewal flew down to Nagpur and gave me his first lesson in professionalism. He said, if you make a commitment you have to deliver the goods. How you do it is your own problem. Secondly, if you do not learn how to delegate work, all your life you will remain a proprietor and will not be free to expand your business. I told Grewal that I did not have the money to hire any staff to which he replied, “pehle murgi ya anda – you have to decide.”
“Maine Grewal ji ki iss baat ko apne zehan me utaar liya”. As the people at J.K. Cement were very impressed with my work they extended him an advance of Rs 64000. Today he has much more than that lying as payment with JK. This was the first lesson and turning point in his career.
Nagpur Today: Would you like to dwell on as an industrialist?
Padmesh Gupta: My association with the BK Birla Group dates back 26 years. It started with Mangalam Cement. It was a BIFR unit and everyone wanted to sell it. But Poddar ji, one of the oldest employees of BK Birla was against it. He gave me a six month period to revive this unit and said if you pull this off you will forever be in BK Babu’s good books. He also advised me to quote a rate of Rs. 450 less than the market rate. I realized they were losing money on freight; sending the material via Indore. So I started saving Rs 450 but made a profit of Rs 100 a ton as well. At first BK was suspicious on how I manage this. But when I explained the logistics to him, he gave me an order of 20,000 tonnes plus advance.
Remember, credibility is the root of a tree, profits are the branches and the results are the stems, flowers and fruits (Well Padmesh, so money does grow on trees!). In a few years, what started as a business worth a few lakhs of rupees grew into a turnover of crores. “My credibility in banking circles started growing and they gave him supplying rights to all cement companies. I had very little credit limits at the time. Imports of coal had become free but banks required Letters of Credit. In this again BK Birla helped them out. In 2001, coal rates went very high, washing coal cost $6 which was not viable and without this process coal was not sellable. India did not have this technology. I looked all over the world and found my answers in a small town “Mandal” near Umred, Nagpur. Here lives Dr. S.B. Gaidhane, a PhD from Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) who had taken voluntary retirement. He was now running a school in Mandal for poor children. He was an expert at minerals separation but had not given much thought to coal washing. He was so impressed by My sheer determination in locating him that he decided to give it a try. In fifteen days time he succeeded, they patented the process and it cost them very little. I took him on permanently as a Joint Managing Director of all my washeries and adopted his school as my own. Today many of them are working for him.
The washing process generates a lot of coal reject. Again this amazing man’s mind started ticking. What to do with all this rejected coal? So he hit upon the idea of a reject based power plants. He set up his first 120 MW unit in Chandrapur using rejected coal and has costed him 760 crores. His aim is that every washery should have power plant. He used power plant reject, Fly ash to make Vitrified tiles at 30% of the original cost. He plans on using totally unusable coal to make oil and would you believe it, jet fuel!
Nagpur Today: What is buzzword for the business success?
Padmesh Gupta: India has thirty billion tons of low grade coal. India has so many resources that if used properly the world economy can be shaken. “Your greatest asset in business is not money, it is human resources. It is the most precious resource on this planet. All your dreams will come true if you value and nurture this single resource.”
Padmesh – the man:
He does not crave for publicity or recognition from people he does not respect. Yes he would be honoured to be complemented by a person or institution he has as deep respect for. “I don’t demand respect. I command respect. I am not impressed by the success of the big Indian conglomerates that prospered under license Raj and political patronage. If you have an umbrella on your head you are protected from bad weather. Your greatness lies in protecting and emerging unscathed from bad weather without an umbrella. I have started working singlehandedly with Rs. 16K. I went upto a group turnover of 4000 crores with 5000 people working for me.I am proud of whatever I have achieved so far, ups and downs are part of business, main thing that matter’s is to learn from your mistakes.I have had the honour of L&T finance valuing my coal division alone to around Rs.6000 crores and also my power company was valued to around 1200 crores in 2011. ” Padmesh says.
“You have to treat your employees like family. Share in their joys and sorrows and help wherever you can. The money will automatically flow in. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; Leadership is defined by Results not Attributes. Team work is the ability to work together towards a common vision. It is fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results,” Padmesh asserts with a smile.
Nagpur Today: What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Padmesh Gupta: Young people must recognize and exercise their right to vote and choose their own leaders. The global scenario today is gravitating towards conglomerates — don’t go in for many small units. Stick to one business and make it grow, cement your growth. Don’t ape other people, if Padmesh Gupta is making money in coal that does not mean you have an aptitude for it. Find your own talent and follow your own calling. This is India not America. Use India’s natural resources to set up your business. If you are honest and deliver on time, people will come to you; you do not have to go to them. There will be no dearth of work. Maarwadis are such a successful community because “Vipreet haalato me apne aapko anukool banaya.” I am always enthusiastic about promoting young entrepreneurs. People call me a role model, mentor and inspiration to many of them. “If 50% of our population works honestly we can become the world’s most powerful country.”
Nagpur Today: Your experience about Nagpur?
Padmesh Gupta: In Nagpur, fly ash is the biggest problem and biggest solution. It has business opportunities at all levels ranging from five lakhs to five hundred crores. My advice to entrepreneurs in Nagpur is to use its natural resources like Iron ore, Bidipatti, Oranges, Cotton, medicinal plants, mineral processing industries, teakwood, etc. to name only a few. Government should give people like Infosys and TCS free land in MIHAN to encourage economic growth in this region. Thanks to Anna Hazare, politicians are now worried. Right to reject and right to recall may end corruption.“To be the best you have to satisfy customer demands. It is the ends that matter not the means.”
Well, writing about Padmesh Gupta needs not an article but a biography. As they say, be the best in whatever vocation you choose. But truly there is no such thing as good luck. It is simply being at the right place at the right time. Genius is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Nagpur is certainly proud to have you as one of its citizens. You are doing a great job!
“My grandfather would always say, a tree full of fruit is always bent not straight. Therefore humbleness is not a sign of defeat, it is an ornament.”
Padmesh Gupta has been bestowed with numerable awards and honors.
• Maharashtrian of the Year Award by Lokmat Group,2011
• Industry Excellence Award by Sarathi, 2010
•Eduljee Memorial Vocational Excellence Award for the year 2007-08 by Rotary Club of Nagpur
• Excellence Award in Commerce, Trade & Industry in the year 2006 from National Chamber of Commerce Ltd.
•Outstanding Achievers Award from S.F.S. Schools Old Boys Association for the year 2003
• The brand ‘Gupta Coal’ has been selected for the award of ‘International Diamond, Star for Quality’ by the National Marketing Institute Inflame Enriau Dia De Leon, Jalisco, Mexico
• Local Body Chairman, Yavatmal Urban Cooperative Bank in the year 2000
A generous philanthropist:
Over the years, Padmesh Gupta has liberally contributed his time and resources towards the betterment of economically backward classes and in the fields of Education, Healthcare and Environment. He has founded two charitable trusts, Seth Mahadeo Prasadji Gupta Charitable Trust & P.D. Gupta Foundation Trust and through them, sponsored various activities such as scholarships to the needy and economically backward students, establishment & maintenance of wells and water reservoirs for the public, nutrition programs for pre-primary, primary and middle schools run by Nagpur Municipal Corporation.
As an active member of Central India Institute of Medical Sciences (CIIMS), Padmesh has extended continuous support by sponsoring the construction and maintenance of an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He is associated with NGO — Mahavir International, Nagpur as an Executive Director and has contributed to Jaipur Food Centre & Food Bank for free distribution amongst the poor.
“I strongly believe in keeping nature free from pollutants and therefore accord top priority to the Environment keeping in the view the threats such as Global Warming, Floods & Famines.” As a member of Vanrai — a social organization working for Tree Plantation — he has supervised plantation activity in the city of Nagpur and adjoining rural areas.
Padmesh Gupta is an enthusiastic partner to organizations such as:
• Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA)
• Ramdeobaba Educational Institute (Engineering College & School)
•Akhil Bharatiya Natya Parishad
• Centre of Bharatiya Marketing Developers (CBMD), Nagpur
• Swadeshi Mela
• Gorakshan Sansthan
• Manavmandir Sansthan, etc.