Hari Shankar Singhania was born in Kanpur, India, on June 10, 1932, to a prominent industrial family. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from St. Xavier College at the University of Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1951, and married in 1952.
As a young man, Singhania joined his family’s business, working long, hard hours which helped him foster a strong work ethic. In 1960, he set out on his own, leading the construction of the JK Paper Mills (JKPM), a Greenfield integrated pulp and paper mill, in Jaykaypur, Orissa, India. Within two years, the mill was producing commercial paper made of locally grown bamboo. Under Singhania’s leadership, JKPM has grown steadily. His attention to quality production and high manufacturing standards established JKPM as an industrial benchmark for quality and service. JKPM also established a reputation for innovation and for progressive techniques. In 1973, the company successfully produced airmail paper made from bamboo. Later, the mill began producing other specialty products including watermark bond, coated papers, MICR cheque paper, parchment paper, ledger paper, and more recently, packaging board.
Singhania established JKPM as a premier paper company in India. Under his direction, the company saw a tenfold production growth from 18,000 to 180,000 tons per annum. He transformed a commodity business into a brand-driven business by producing and marketing 40% of India’s paper under the JK name. The company is now the largest producer of photo-copying paper in India.
At the age of 60, Singhania purchased and revitalized the closed-down Central Paper Mill, and within three years, the mill was transformed into a profitable company. A year after the purchase, Singhania led a movement toward procuring the industry’s raw materials from local tribal farmers, thereby benefiting marginal farmers and avoiding harvesting from national forests. In 1996, JKPM received the National Award for Energy Conservation from the Indian Government. In 1999-2000, JKPM was named India’s most environmentally friendly paper mill by the Centre of Science and Environment. JKPM was the first paper mill in India to receive accreditation for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 in environmental production management. In November of 2006, the Japanese Institute of Plant Maintenance awarded JKPM the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) award for its environmental endeavors.
Singhania has received over 12 major awards and honors including the Padma Bhushan award for Trade and Business from the President of India and the Royal Order of Polar Star from the King of Sweden for his distinguished contribution to trade, strengthening trade relations between the two countries. He has also been honored with the Ravi J. Mathai Fellowship Award for lifetime achievement in the field of Management Education, the Rajasthan Ratan Award for outstanding service to industry, and the Hind Ratan Award for extraordinary service, contribution, and achievement. In 1993 and 1994, Singhania became the second Indian to be named President of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. He also held a position as Member of the Board of Commonwealth Development Corporation, U.K.
His involvement in social welfare programs includes areas such as health, education, water quality, literacy, and disaster relief. In addition to many other activities, Singhania is a board member of the Lakshmipat Singhania Education Foundation and of Lakshmipat Singhania Medical Foundation. He is also President of the Managing Committee of Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute for Liver, Renal, and Digestive Diseases. Singhania has authored two books, Today & Tomorrow – Perspectives for Indian Economy and Economic Issues: Global & National – A Business Perspective. He is the founder of the Pulp and Paper Research Institute (PAPRI) in Orissa State, India, which provides technical services for the Pulp and Paper Industry.
Singhania is Chairman of the J.K. Organization, guiding the Singhania businesses in such industrial sectors as Paper, Tyres, Cement, V-Belts & Transmission Equipment, Sugar, and Hybrid Seeds. He currently resides in New Delhi. (Mr. Singhania died in 2013)