Ashok Leyland, the flagship Company of the Hinduja Group and India’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer, lost its Chairman Emeritus, Mr. R J Shahaney earlier today after a brief illness.
Mr. Shahaney was Ashok Leyland’s first Indian Managing Director and he served in that capacity from 1978 till 1998 and subsequently as Chairman until 2010. He was a visionary architect who laid the strong foundation in manufacturing, engineering and technology for the company, the magnificent edifice we see today. In an era when AL, being a foreign company, faced challenges for growth, he had the courage to embark on an expansion plan that was to grow the company manifold. Hosur, Alwar and Bhandara plants were his creations.
He had the innate ability to sense the futuristic technology trends in our country and took some pioneering actions years ahead, to place Ashok Leyland in a pole position. Through his singular efforts he forged Technology alliances for engine, gearbox, cabin as well as development efforts for multi axle vehicles and defence vehicles.
A person of sharp intellect, his memory, attention to detail and boundless energy despite the long hours he put in, were legendary. He set the bar of performance high and pushed all his colleagues relentlessly for perfection, which he led by example through sheer diligence and application. He had a tough exterior and yet a very humane approach to addressing people issues.
He had been President of SIAM and AIEI (CII) and used every forum and occasion to take up the cause of the commercial vehicle industry with government and industry bodies, earning the respect of his peers in business and industry. He went on to serve as Chairman of IndusInd Bank.
After his tenure in AL, he led Ashok Leyland Project Services and was involved in many Hinduja Group activities such as Hinduja National Power.
Mr. Dheeraj Hinduja, Chairman, Ashok Leyland, said, “We mourn the loss of a great leader, ally and friend. Mr. Shahaney was with Ashok Leyland and the group for over three decades, leading the Company to where we are today. Under his able leadership, we expanded our footprint and manufacturing capacity. Even after his retirement, he was always available to share his wisdom and was a personal friend of the Hinduja family. A towering personality, he will be sorely missed by a generation of professionals who interacted with him.”
Mr. Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO, Ashok Leyland, said, “While I did not have the good fortune of working with Mr. Shahaney directly, I had the privilege of knowing him personally. I have always looked up to him and what he has done for Ashok Leyland, he had the courage and resilience like no one else. His vision has inspired leaders of all generations and Ashok Leyland is fortunate that we had a leader like him. His contribution to the Company and the industry is unparalleled. He was part of our family and we all will truly miss him.”