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Saturday, May 04, 2002

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M.S. Oberoi dies at 103

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THE father figure of the Indian hotel industry and Chairman, Oberoi Group, Rai Bahadur M.S. Oberoi, passed away on Friday at the age of 103.

Born in a village in the erstwhile-undivided Punjab, now in Pakistan, Mr Oberoi started his career in Shimla as a clerk.

It was in 1934 that Mr Oberoi acquired his first property, the Clarkes hotel, by mortgaging his wife's jewellery and all his assets.

Four years later, Mr Oberoi signed a lease to take over the operations of the 500-room Grand hotel in Kolkata.

However, it was in 1943 that Mr Oberoi in one sweep acquired the controlling interest in the Associated Hotels of India (AIH), which owned the Cecil, and Corstophans in Shimla, the Maidens and the Imperial in Delhi and a hotel each in Lahore, Murree, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

This made Mr Oberoi the first Indian to run the largest and finest hotel chain.

As Chairman, Mr Oberoi, steered the Oberoi Group towards becoming the country's first and best-known international hospitality companies.

Mr Oberoi was considered as a visionary who is credited as being the first to employ women in the hospitality sector and to recognise the potential of the tourism industry, besides, its ability to contribute to the country's economic growth and generate direct and indirect employment.

Again in 1965, Mr Oberoi was the first to enter into an agreement with an internationally renowned hotel chain, to open the first modern five-star international hotel in the country, the Oberoi Intercontinental in Delhi.

It was under him that the group diversified into diverse sectors including domestic and international travel and tour services, flight catering, corporate air charter services, airport restaurants and project management. Apart from being an hotelier, Mr Oberoi was twice elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1962 and 1972 and once to the Lok Sabha during 1968.

Mr Oberoi was the recipient of many prestigious national and international awards and accolades.

The most prestigious awards include admission to the Hall of Fame by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Man of the World by the International Hotel Association (IHA), New York, and the Order of the Republic - First Class conferred by the Egyptian President, among others.

The Indian Government also honoured Mr Oberoi with the Padma Bhushan.

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M.S. Oberoi dies at 103

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