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Bharat Ram: Relationship man
BS Reporter in Mumbai
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July 12, 2007 11:48 IST

Bharat Ram, the last surviving son of Sir Shri Ram, died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday night, two months after his younger brother, Lala Charat Ram.

In their lifetime, the two had their share of differences. The brothers were, after all, as different as cheese and chalk. The younger brother was outspoken and direct, Bharat Ram was soft-spoken and humble.

While Lala Charat Ram was a hardcore operations man, putting up factory after factory in the North, Bharat Ram was the external face of the DCM group -- the relationships man.

He served on innumerable government committees and wrote two books: Glimpses of Industrial India and From Istanbul to Vienna.

Till late, his frail frame was a familiar sight at the Delhi Golf Club, the ultimate place for networking in the capital. Coming from the capital's premier business family, Bharat Ram was a respected public figure -- the government even made him the chairman of Indian Airlines.

He is regarded as one of the most influential leaders of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which he headed in 1965. (He had earlier been the president of the PHDCCI.) He also became the first Asian president of International Chamber of Commerce in 1969.

Still, when Swraj Paul mounted a raid on Escorts and DCM in the early-1980s, nobody gave Bharat Ram much of a chance, though his youngest son, Vivek, had gone to school with Rajiv Gandhi.

Paul had been buying the DCM stocks from the markets through a handful of brokers. But nobody in the Bharat Ram camp knew how much of DCM he owned. In the thick of the battle, Bharat Ram called a meeting of the shareholders to change the company's name from Delhi Cloth Mills Ltd to DCM Ltd [Get Quote]. As the record date for the meeting approached, Paul was left with no option but to show his hand.

The raid came to naught. And Bharat Ram resigned from DCM soon afterwards in 1985.

Next was the three-way split of the family in 1989. Bharat Ram saw to it that it was an amicable split and the sons of their oldest brother, Murli Dhar, got their rightful share. Bharat Ram, it seems, had anticipated that the ambitions of all his three sons -- Vinay, Arun and Vivek -- could not be accommodated within DCM. So, he had set up Shriram Fibres (now known as SRF Ltd [Get Quote]) way back in 1970.

After the split, the part of DCM left with Bharat Ram failed to live up to its past glory. The rules of the game changed overnight with economic liberalisation and old business families fond themselves totally out of sync with reality. He had to bow out of two high profile joint ventures -- one with Daewoo [Get Quote] to make passenger cars and another with Benetton to make garments.

Life was never the same again for Bharat Ram. His abiding passion was golf. Till late, his frail frame was a familiar sight at the Delhi Golf Club.

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