THE M K SANGHI GROUP TRACES ITS ORIGIN TO Motilal Sanghi, whose entry into the world of enterprise began with a general merchandise store in his native Jodhpur. Motivated and driven, he prospered, which led to his foray into other businesses like car distributorship, cinemas and manufacture of industrial gases and plants. His businesses were further expanded and strengthened by Narendra Sanghi his eldest son initially, who was also Congress MP for 14 years and then by his youngest son, Mahendra Sanghi, who was sent to Mumbai in 1962 to extend the Sanghis’ footprint to the financial capital of India.
To celebrate his life and immortalise his contributions to business, philanthropy and culture, his wife, Manju Sanghi has written a biographical account of his life. Titled MK Sanghi—Life, Love & Laughter, the book talks about the man, his persona, his business initiatives, his style of management, his successes, his missteps and other facets of his life, including his love for tradition and culture, squash, food and his Jodhpur origin. It also offers a glimpse of M K Sanghi as a beloved husband and doting father to three children— Vidhi, Vaibhav and Ashwin—who have shared their memories and written about their father in the book.
EXCERPTS FROM MKSANGHI—LIFE,LOVE& LAUGHTER
MK has always done things with aplomb. His early interest in business chambers eventually grew into a full-fledged passion. He loved being involved in charting the path of Indian business and trade. The Indian Merchants’ Chamber, a premier body set up in 1907, held great fascination for MK. In 1990, when Pravinchandra Gandhi, a close friend asked MK to become IMC president, MK proudly shouldered the responsibility. IMC is the only Chamber in which Mahatma Gandhi was an honorary member. It was a well-run organisation, and its activities kept him happy and occupied. Among the many luminaries that MK invited to address the IMC during his tenure, were APJ Abdul Kalam, who was then a part of the Department of Atomic Energy, and Russi Mody, the Chairman and MD of Tata Steel, besides fourteen Central Cabinet ministers, by itself a unique achievement. A decade later, MK would become president of the India Chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce and transform it into one of ICC’s most active chapters. He thus played a crucial role in influencing economic policies as Indian businesses made strides towards globalisation. However, it was at ASSOCHAM that MK surpassed himself, astounding us all with his acumen and sheer genius. ASSOCHAM was a notable organisation, which had earlier been led by people such as Viren Shah, Keshub Mahindra, A N Haksar and L M Thapar. But by 2003, it was almost on its last legs. Although its members, both companies and professionals from across the country, ran into several thousands, it had reached a point when it was unable to even pay staff salaries. Its secretarygeneral had also resigned while FICCI and CII, the two rival national chambers, were going great guns – their secretaries Tarun Das and Amit Mitra calling the shots with the government. All told, there were too many challenges and it was a critical time. But challenges seem to attract MK like a moth to a flame. We just prayed that he wouldn’t get burned. Although he was initially hesitant to take up on his friend Ram Gandhi’s request to head an organisation that appeared to be in the doldrums, MK grew quite keen as the days passed. In the meantime, industry bigwigs such as Harishankar Singhania, K P Singh, L M Thapar, Avijit Mazumdar and Pravinchandra Gandhi encouraged him, expressing unequivocal confidence in MK’s ability to restore the fading organisation to its former glory. MK soon overcame his initial hesitation and picked the gauntlet.
About the author
Manju Sanghi currently looks after the M K Sanghi Group’s charitable activities. She has earlier served as President of Indian Merchants’ Chamber Ladies Wing.
and the second below his left nipple. Pressing the paddles firmly onto the gel pads, he applied twentyfive pounds of pressure. ‘All clear!’ he shouted as he depressed the shock button on the paddles. Belanger’s body jolted as the current hit. The Director stared at the monitor, hoping for a stable rhythm.
And then, Belanger retched. The vomit splattered over his tuxedo, trickled down and was slowly absorbed by the thick pile of the pale blue wool carpet on the State Dining Room floor. ‘We must shift him to Bethesda immediately,’ said the Director. He stole a glance at the President to seek his concurrence. The President nodded wordlessly.
Within seconds, an Air Force chopper landed on the helipad in the South Lawn and Belanger was efficiently shifted into it. As he was being slid in, the Director saw the next telltale sign.
Belanger’s face, like his arm, was now severely swollen, but on the right side. It had ballooned to the extent that his right eye was no longer visible. The Director quickly got into the helicopter along with other medics. In the distance, he could see men dressed in bio-hazard suits running across the lawn towards the White House. They were carrying canisters of chlorine dioxide to fumigate some areas. They had to keep in mind the possibility that anthrax had been used. Belanger’s symptoms of nausea, blisters, swelling and shortness of breath were similar to the effects of anthrax poisoning, but no one could be sure.
As the chopper took off, the Director glanced through the window at the President who was standing in his white-tie get-up on the South Lawn, his jet-black hair blown awry by the whirling rotors. He was intently observing the helicopter as it lifted off the ground.
Prologue - Part 4
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, located in Bethesda, Maryland, was abuzz, given the profile of it latest patient. The hospital was renowned for the number of famous people who had been treated there. The staff had long grown used to the arrival of powerful people. John F. Kennedy had been rushed there after his assassination. Ronald Reagan had undergone surgery for his prostate cancer at Walter Reed. George Bush had been taken there for treatment of his atrial fibrillation. But the arrival of any President or foreign head of state in critical condition was always a cause for madness to prevail.
The WHMU Director quickly briefed the doctors as Belanger was wheeled into the Intensive Care Unit. ‘His pulse is erratic, his left arm and the right side of his face are swollen. He has developed bright red pustules on his arm and his heart rate has been in decline. He’s thrown up several times. We’ve taken blood samples during the chopper ride. How quickly can you get me a toxicity report?’
‘It’s done,’ said the senior pathologist on the scene. The newest machines at Bethesda spat out such reports almost instantly. ‘It’s crazy but he has all the symptoms of snakebite. But there aren’t any snakes in the White House and there is absolutely no poison in his system.’
No snakes in the White House? wondered the WHMU Director. I’m not sure the President would agree. He seems to think that everyone around him bears shades of the reptilian.
‘I have bad news and worse news,’ said the young US Navy Commander who was also the on-duty doctor at the ICU. ‘Which will it be?’ he asked as he scanned the reports.
The WHMU Director brusquely replied, ‘Both!’
‘The bad news is that his kidneys seem to be shutting down for no apparent reason. The worse news is that intravascular coagulation has begun impeding his blood circulation. If we do not figure out a course of treatment, he will soon go into coma.’
The words, ‘Death will inevitably follow’, were left unsaid.
Facing page: (Top) M K Sanghi and Manju Sanghi with their children (l-r) Ashwin, Vidhi and Vaibhav; (Bottom) An old family picture showing M K Sanghi and Manju Sanghi with their children (l-r) Vidhi, Vaibhav and Ashwin Top: M K Sanghi Bottom: Manju Sanghi's book ' MK Sanghi—Life, Love & Laughter'