- By Dwaipayan, 05 December 2020 | 5 MIN READ
This is a life story of a self-styled businessman who spiced up local tastes to every kitchen in the country.
Most of us have come across motivational real-life stories of “dropped out of school” from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg who could pursue their dreams and passions right from the very begining and created history, but here is the “life of a school dropout” who had no choices but worked with assorted jobs including carpentry, rice trading, and selling hardware, before joining in to help his father in his spice business.
Gulati was born on 27 March 1923 in Sialkot in present-day Pakistan. His father, Chunnilal Gulati, had a spice shop in the town named Mahashian Di Hatti also known by Deggi Mirch Wale. Faced by the grim consequences of the partition in 1947, the family was forced to leave Sialkot and make the journey across to what would-be present-day India. During the days in Sialkot, Gulati helped to expand the store to Lahore, Shekhupura, Nankana Sahib, Lyallpur, and Multan in Punjab. He recounts the business in Mallika Ahluwalia's book, Divided by Partition: United by Resilience, growing with a turnover between Rs 500 and Rs 800 per day during this time. Sooner, the family had to start all over again in a refugee camp in Amritsar before making it across to New Delhi, to join his sister. Look at the fate, he bought a tonga (English: horse carriage) for Rs 650 and operated around New Delhi railway station, Qutab Road, and Karol Bagh to make ends meet.
It was the year 1958, he set up a small wooden pop-up store in the Karol Bagh region of New Delhi to restart his father's spice store with the same name Mahashian Di Hatti of Sialkot. He started and pushed his sales with some brilliant advertisements in the popular Hindi newspaper, Pratap, increasing the store's popularity. He then set up his second store in Chandni Chowk and a manufacturing unit in the Kirti Nagar in 1959. During those days, most Indians would grind spices at home he pioneered the concept of ready-to-use spices. In the year 1965, a company was registered as MDH (an abbreviation of Mahashian Di Hatti). In 2017 he was the highest-paid fast-moving consumer goods CEO in India, earning over INR 21 crore. During this period, he was also noted for pioneering entrepreneurial brand marketing in India. Mr. Gulati is credited with the growth of the company to having 18 manufacturing facilities and revenues of ₹1,095 crores (equivalent to ₹12 billion or US$170 million in 2019)
He recognized the importance of education for children and founded 20 schools for furthering primary and secondary education, including the MDH International School, Mahashay Chunnilal Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Mata Lilawati Kanya Vidyalaya and Mahashay Dharampal Vidya Mandir. As a philanthropist, he set up a 200-bed hospital for the poor in New Delhi and a mobile hospital for slum dwellers. His charity foundation, with his father's name, Mahashay Chunnilal Charitable Trust, administers some of his charity initiatives.
Mr. Gulati was awarded Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian honour in 2019. With just Rs 1,500 in his hand, he set an empire of 1000 crore.
Today, MDH is a big brand and it exports spices to countries such as Switzerland, Japan, the US, and Canada. MDH spices are sold all over India and abroad through a network of over 1000 Stockists and over 4 lakh retail dealers. MDH spices come in various ranges from ground spices to blended spices and even exotic spices.
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