by Florine Roche
Feb 21: The remarkable success story of businessmen Hari Kishan Pippal makes an engrossing and fascinating read about what grit and determination can do for an individual to become successful in life battling against all odds. Though one is tempted to term his success as rags to riches story there is more to it in terms of the sufferings he endured in the form of caste discrimination and insulting innuendos. Any other lesser mortal wouldn’t have been able to withstand such brutality and come out unscathed let alone making a success of life. But Hari Kishan is made up of sterner stuff and he withstood all the adversity without compromising on honesty. Today his success is one of the very few poignant accounts of Dalits who have made it big in Indian business arena.
Today, at 64, Hari Kishan Pippal is a successful businessman with an annual business turnover of over 100 crores with business interests in myriad fields like footwear, hospital, restaurant, banquet halls, vehicle dealership, publication and many more. He even contested the assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh from the reserved constituency of Agra Cantonment on a Congress ticket losing eventually to BSP candidate. Hari Kishan never dreamt of such accomplishments to his credit even in his wildest dreams. But today he is a millionaire businesmen with business interest in diverse fields which speaks volumes of the way he shaped his life and career from scratch.
50 years ago Hari Kishan Pippal had pedaled cycle rikshaw to finance his studies and even take care of the family after his father who had a small shoe factory suffered a stroke. However, he had to give up his ambition of studying further to shoulder the responsibility of the entire family. Bowing to the wishes of the family he was married at the age of 12 and began to work along with his father-in-law in his small shoe shop.
Hari Kishan always had the grandiose dreams of making it big as a businessman. But he put hold to his ambitions temporarily when he realized that his poverty and caste factor was a major hindrance in this task. He was a man of courage and strong resolve who did not want the caste factor to come in the way of his dreams of carving a better future for himself and his family. To realize those dreams he took the first step of getting a bank loan of Rs. 15,000/- to expand his business and this bank loan changed his life forever but for the better.
When he got the loan his family began to pester him to part with this loan money for their personal use. Realising that the only way to come out of the impasse was to leave the family he took the bold step and left the family at this crucial juncture. Imagine, if he had succumbed to their tactics and parted with the money! Hari Kishan recalls that moment with nostalgia and says that if he had not taken that steely resolve at that moment he would not have reached the stage he has reached today.
Getting the loan initially was quite a difficult task because of the bank formalities. But once he became a valued customer his loan amount went up to Rs. 5 lakhs within a few years. With this loan he could expand his business even to foreign shores like Germany, Russia and Bulgaria. He named his export shop as People’s Export because it sounded the same as his name. He did not want to give his name for the fear of people shunning it because of his caste. The gamble paid off and he made his first millions manufacturing and exporting footwear. If his father was alive he would have been a proud man recalls Hari Kishan.
Over the years Hari Kishan Pippal has diversified his business and has achieved a turnover has crossed over Rs. 100 crores. Despite success caste-based discrimination is something that he had battle all through his life wherever he went. So much so when he set up the high tech multi-specialty Heritage Hospital in Agra, some high caste doctors refused to work under him. Even a false complaint was lodged against him in the Railways and efforts were made to remove the hospital’s name from the panel without success. Hari Kishan believes that given a chance even people from the lowest ladder can come up in life and he often cites his own example whenever he wants to motivate his community people. Though he could not achieve any success in the political arena, he is not rattled by the failure because he believes failure is the stepping stone to success. “We should not give up in the first attempt if we want to achieve something concrete”, he emphasizes.
Hari Kishan’s success story serves as an eye opener to many. His story of success is the story of caste-based discrimination, taunts and constant struggle to prove his mettle. Hari Kishan overcame all this with grit and determination battling the greatest of odds. He was guided by the constant desire to achieve greater heights and succeeded in it. What is commendable is that he achieved all this without deviating from the path of honesty but with his single minded devotion and hard work.
It was not easy maintaining the same success in the shoe business for Hari kishan as in between he faced rough period especially when Germany was unified and he lost his business. But he never gave up even in most difficult circumstances and when faced with difficulties he found a suitable business alternative to overcome the situation. His business diversification is a part of this strategy. Hari Kishan’s story of success is one of the very few success stories of Dalits making it big because he wanted to show that he too can be successful in his own terms. We need many more people like him to overcome odds and succeed.