OP Jindal – Bauji to his countless admirers – was a man ahead of his times as he worked to make India self-reliant and better the lot of the underprivileged.
Lack of formal education didn’t come in the way, as he established a corporate empire with nation-building as the motto.
Born in a farmer’s family on August 7, 1930, at Nalwa in Haryana’s Hisar, Jindal had a fascination for machines since childhood. He was a matriculate, but was driven by original thinking and passion to bring about a change, and came to be known as a man who talked to machines.
Jindal set up a steel pipes, bends and sockets factory at Liluah, near Kolkata, in 1952. He returned to Hisar, and set up an iron and steel factory in 1960. This was the precursor to the OP Jindal Group.
He then established a pipes mill, based on indigenous technology, followed by Jindal Strips Limited in 1970. He focused on R&D from the very beginning.
Raigarh in Chhattisgarh later became his base. JSPL’s coal-based sponge iron plant, the largest of its kind in the world, came up. In the 1990s, he thought of CGP DRI-based steel making. JSPL’s Angul unit made this a reality, also a first of its kind in the world.
Bauji was always committed to communities around plants, being concerned about their welfare, including schools, hospitals and other facilities for them.
He was an industry leader, and a leader in every other walk of life.
He never kept his office door shut, and had an open-door policy. He didn’t believe in having a secretary who would act as a wall between him and the people, and was always accessible to all.
He once refused to take food at a public event after coming to know that no arrangements had been made for the drivers.
Bauji became an MLA in 1991, and MP in 1996. He served as Haryana’s Power Minister in 2005.
He ensured that the poor, needy, Dalits, backwards and the downtrodden benefited from economic and political activities. Opportunities were created for their inclusion in the mainstream.
His four sons are leading lights of corporate India today. Prithvi Raj Jindal (Jindal SAW), Sajjan Jindal (JSW), Ratan Jindal (Jindal Stainless) and Naveen Jindal (JSPL) are following in Bauji’s path, while Sminu Jindal, Parth Jindal, Abhyuday Jindal and Venkatesh Jindal are third-generation leaders who are committed to carrying forward Bauji’s legacy.