Ram Shahaney, former Chairman of Ashok Leyland, passes away

Under his stewardship, the company grew manifold in scale and scope to become a truck and bus behemoth in India

Ram J Shahaney (89), who has played a major role in the growth of Ashok Leyland Ltd during his more than three-decade stint at the company, passed away in Chennai on Tuesday.

Under his stewardship, Ashok Leyland grew manifold in scale and scope into a multi-location truck and bus behemoth in India.

Shahaney, who came from Jessop & Co in Kolkata, took charge as the first Indian Managing Director of Ashok Leyland in 1978.

Committed to technology, Shahaney led Ashok Leyland to come out with full air brakes and rear engines among others, for the first time in India. He played a big role in bringing a new range of vehicles for the mass market. His tenure saw tie-ups with Hino Motors for engines and ZF for transmissions.

Shahaney is credited to have sowed the seeds for technology at Ashok Leyland as the commercial vehicle company successfully introduced products and services that have become industry norms.

Acknowledged for his leadership skills, Shahaney was also described as a champion of talent development at Ashok Leyland.

Industry watchers say Shahaney, along with another illustrious leader from New Delhi, Mantosh Sondhi, whose son Vipin Sondhi is now the MD of Ashok Leyland, brought in the rich talent from the public sector to build the company.

Shahaney was responsible for spreading the company’s manufacturing footprint in India with the establishment of facilities at Hosur, Bhandara and Alwar.

He was also instrumental in taking the company’s business beyond the borders to Sri Lanka and in forging a pivotal relationship with the Indian Army on the strength of which the company is today its largest supplier of logistics vehicles.

In recognition of his meritorious service to Ashok Leyland, Shahaney was given the position of Chairman Emeritus and served till 2012. After the stint, Shahaney continued as an advisor to the Hinduja Group.

This article originally appeared on The Hindu Businessline.

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