Volume - 3 : Issue - 4

Published : Oct. - Dec. 2004

Group : Personalities


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Builder extraordinaire to educationist!


(President, Hyderabad Sind National Collegiate Board, Mumbai)

He has built a mini Hong Kong in Mumbai, leads a chain of twenty-three highly disciplined educational institutions, has sponsored several philanthropic activities, and is committed to humanity, simplicity, modesty and a clean mind. He is tall, suave, extremely busy, hard working, confident, understanding and success has trailed him with the velocity of light. NIRANJAN HIRANDANI, the builder extraordinaire, the most non-controversial Sindhi business tycoon and a rare jewel, a "Hira" in the crown of the Sindhi community. He is one visionary without whose mention; neither Sindhi History nor the Indian History will be complete. Shuffling appointments with bankers, architects, business barons and his staff, extremely busy Niranjan Hiranandani finds time to tell that education is the biggest gift for the generation next, besides the many other things about the untold success story of his life in a rare interview to MAHESH VASWANI, the Associate Editor of SINDHISHAAN who met him to find out what beats in the heart of this successful Sindhi diva. 

7500 square feet of his corporate office, the 125000 square feet plush office complex – the ambience at OLYMPIA would put to shame the best of the five star hotels in the country even as the clean and wide roads, magnificent buildings, shopping malls, parks and amusement centers in the Hiranandani Gardens, a residential complex that reminded me of Singapore and Hong Kong. Asia’s finest township nestles in a lush green valley overlooking the Powai lake sprawling majestically over 250 acres of prime land in a pollution free region of Mumbai. Elegantly styled buildings, wide roads, bubbling fountains and the kiss of nature makes one experience the true freedom of a paradise unmatched in Mumbai.

Unmindful of his wealth, power and status, the charismatic billionaire is sincerely apologetic for the delay in meeting us (me and my lensman) for this interview and then he is all smiles as he talks about his plans “to make Mumbai the world’s best center of education.” The tycoon also shares some finer points of the housing complex, which has the joys, and pleasures of modern living within economical budgets in Mumbai. The townships at Powai and Thane are the best ever in India and at affordable prices. “Most of my buyers are the middleclass families and the middleclass is my forte! Developing land is more of a service to the society than a business venture!”

Born to Smt. Kanta Hiranandani and world-renowned ENT surgeon Dr. Lakhumal H.Hiranandani on the 8th of March 1950, the Piscean avoids talking about what catapulted him into the all-powerful chair of the President of the HYDERABAD SIND NATIONAL COLLEGIATE BOARD. But when asked if it was the sudden exit of the former president Ashok Advani that gave him a chance to occupy the august chair, his voice turns deep and firm, “Ashok Advani didn’t resign, he was forced by the HSNC Board to go!” The HSNC Board that is a registered Trust run by the minority Sindhi community manages some of the most popular colleges and educational institutions in the city.

Mumbai’s top construction baron proudly points out that the HSNC Board under his leadership will have the most professional approach towards education and all admissions will be purely on merit. “Fifty thousand jewels (students) are being groomed every year in the Board managed colleges and this is the biggest contribution the Sindhi community is making to Mumbai. The law colleges managed by the HSNC Board will soon be the world’s number one and shall be producing the best legal brains produced ever.” When asked how he plans to revolutionize the scenario, he calmly says, “give them the best faculties, a free hand and enforce discipline firmly. Strict action will be taken against any one indulging in irregularities and indiscipline and there will be pats for those who do sincere work,” he adds.

Reacting to the question that seats for admissions in prime colleges are often sold through an organized network of touts and some college staff he says no such thing is true. “This year the HSNC Board had fully computerized admissions even in the case of Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, which were held in full view of parents, students and the media at KC College auditorium. There are some disgruntled persons who have been ignored and they keep making baseless allegations. However if ever any allegation is found to be true, the concerned will be dealt with firmly. It shall be seen that the problem is not repeated again. I will see to it that these educational institutions are managed professionally and meant for those who want to study. A strong team of dedicated lecturers, revamped educational infrastructure in all the institutions and appreciation of good results will make our institutions the worlds best”, he asserts with the confidence of an administrator, adding that the results have improved already this year, and will become better every year.

“Ulhasnagar, Maharashtra’s largest Sindhi township has the largest college of them all. Chandibai College has Arts, Science and Commerce, the ultra modern Pharmacy college, a law college besides other schools which are managed by the HSNC Board. In fact this year many parents came and complimented me for the cent percent transparency in the admission procedure even in the Engineering stream”, he reveals while attending calls and fixing a presentation in the boardroom of his office for a delegation! “Dealing with students, lecturers, staff and the institutions of the HSNC Board is like dealing with an ocean. If there are some impurities in the ocean, the whole ocean doesn’t become dirty. Let me assure you that by and large this ocean is very beautiful!”

Besides the Hyderabad Sind National Collegiate Board, Niranjan Hiranandani is also a Trustee of the famous Nathwara Temple Trust at Nathwara, Rajasthan, where Mrs. Kokila Ben D. Ambani is also a trustee. Charity, he believes must be silent and sincere. He is also affiliated with many other social, philanthropic and charitable organizations.

Charities and organizations with which Niranjan Hiranandani is associated …

•   PRESIDENT of Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board which manages 23 educational institutions including secondary and higher secondary school, polytechnics, degree and post-graduate colleges.
• Chairman of Mumbai City, Development & Environment Committee of the Indian Merchants Chambers (I.M.C) Mumbai.
• Governing Council Member of Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI)
• Member of National Real Estate Development Council – Governing Council (NAREDCO)
• Managing Director of Hiranandani Group of Companies.
• Managing Trustee of Hiranandani Foundation and The Hiranandani School, which runs a modern ICSE School at Powai & Thane.
• Vice Chairman of Priyadarshini Academy, a Social-culture organization, Mumbai.
• Vice President, All India Sindhi Panchayat Federation.
• Member of Task Force for reforms in Housing & Urban Development of Government of Maharashtra.
• Ex-Director of Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (HUDCO)
• Immediate Past President of the Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry (MCHI), an Association of Builders/Developers.
• Member of the Study Group on Slum Rehabiliation Scheme, Government of Maharashtra.
• Convener of the Key Group representing Business Community in the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT  II)
• Member of the Working Group on the Urban Housing of the Ninth Five Year Plan.
• Chairman of Mumbai committee of the Ford Foundation in collaboration with Vera Institute of Justice, to initiate Police-Private Industry Collaboration and specific projects to improve professionalism in the Police Service in India.
• Governing Board Member “National Academy of Construction” Hyderabad.

SINDHISHAAN tries to find out if like many other business tycoons does this Sindhi have the political germ in his genes, the answer is a pat No. “I have no political ambitions!” Though he attends sports, social and cultural functions organized by various political outfits, Hiranandani is yet to get swayed by the lucre, glamour, glitter and power of entering the Indian Parliament! When asked if he was ever invited by political parties to join them he admits that several political parties have indeed invited him, but none has made any serious offer for him to consider. Watching him during the interview session, I wondered how this person would ever be getting time for his family at all? He unravels the mystery by saying “now my daughter is married and settled in the USA, my son is setting up an office in Dubai and I go with my wife almost daily to the Gym.” With his world famous dad, he says he catches up at various functions and parties.

The Mumbai born magnate is however modest when asked about how he managed to get so wealthy and acquire such huge tracts of lands for development work. Tracing his past, he goes into flashback saying that after his schooling at the Campion School in Colaba he graduated as a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.)from Sydneham college at Churchgate. His first achievement was that year, as he had stood second in the entire Mumbai University securing a distinction! Then the doctor’s son went on to become a Chartered Accountant and it is after this he first ever took to the activity of imparting education. Niranjan Hiranandani took up a salaried job as a lecturer at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in India. He beams with joy while mentioning that he has taught at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

Then he ventured into two diverse businesses, textiles and building construction.  In 1980 he tookup his first building project at Versova, in Andheri West. “I found it difficult to cope up with both the businesses and had to opt for either of them. I chose the construction business,” says the self-made man. Some of the most irresistible features at the Hiranandani Gardens are; Mumbai’s best ICSE school, a hundred bed Super Specialty hospital, a bowling alley, the Forest Club, a Go-Karting formula 1 track, swimming pools, squash and tennis courts, recreational grounds, hawker free streets and the list goes on…. the luxuries are countless and now even a Railway project has been cleared from Jogeshwari to Vikroli which will soon result in the prices skyrocketing. When confronted with the fact that there have been so many builders, how come success chased him, and the winning smile returns; he philosophically explains “see for example today you write 2 articles, some day you may write 5 articles…its as simple as that! You work hard, you get better rewards!”