- ‘Mahashay’ Dharampal Gulati passes away at the age of 97.
- He suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday morning in Delhi while undergoing treatment in the Hospital
- Dharampal Gulati was also referred to as the “grand old man of spices” and was a recipient of Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award of India
‘Mahashay’ Dharampal Gulati, the face and owner of the masala brand MDH Spices, passed away. He was 97 years old.
Gulati was reportedly seeking treatment at Mata Chanan Devi Hospital in New Delhi, where he suffered cardiac arrest on the morning of December 3.
Gulati, who appeared in many commercials for MDH products, was often referred to as the ‘grand old man of spices.’ In 2019, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian honor of India.
Among the first to post tributes on Twitter were Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy, Manish Sisodia.
“Dharm Pal ji was very inspiring personality. He dedicated his life for society. God bless his soul,” Mr Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi tweeted.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Mr Sisodia said, “India’s most inspiring entrepreneur, MDH owner Dharm Pal Mahashay passed away this morning. I have never met such an inspiring and lively soul. May his soul rest in peace,” in a tweet.
Dharm Pal ji was very inspiring personality. He dedicated his life for the society. God bless his soul. https://t.co/gORaAi3nD9— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 3, 2020
Gulati was born in Sialkot (now Pakistan) in 1923. He dropped out of school and with the aid of his father, set up a small business in 1937, before entering the family spice business. Established by his father, Mahashay Chunni Lal Gulati, MDH (Mahashian Di Hatti) now has 15 factories across India and exports nearly 50 different varieties of spices worldwide.
After the Partition of 1947, he moved to India and arrived with Rs. 1,500 to his credit in Delhi.
In Karol Bagh in Delhi, he opened his first store and expanded his business from there.
MDH, the company that he re-established along with his younger brother, Sat Pal in 1959 gained a reputation through word of mouth and local advertising. The brothers opened more shops in areas like Khari Baoli, estimating the market potential of spices in India and currently sells 62 items in more than 150 different packages. His spices are sold worldwide, too.
It was a challenge for Dharampal Gulati to crack the age-old norm that masalas could only be pure if made at home at a time when quick consumerism was still foreign.
Gulati sensed the need to make his masalas stand out from the rest as the company grew and concentrated all his resources on creating an ad campaign, it would have to be eye-catching and bright. With the words ‘Hygienic, Full of Flavour & Tasty’, they used cardboard packaging. Interestingly, with a few variations, the packaging remains the same even today.
The philanthropist probably never estimated that a simple campaign would get so big that one day ‘Dadaji’ with a moustache would become a huge brand.
The psyche behind the advertisements was to let the customers see whom they were buying from and establish a special bond with them and it worked in his favor and with this he became a household name.
Mr Gulati became the highest paying CEO in India in 2017, at 94 in 2017. MDH, through the Mahashay Chuni Lal Charitable Foundation, has also been committed to corporate social responsibility. A 300-bed hospital in West Delhi has been built that treats the poor for free. In addition, the Trust also operates 20 free schools for underprivileged children, as per the website.
What was born out of the need to gradually conquer financial strain, transformed into a huge spice company with fans all over the world. Over the years, this swadeshi brand has penetrated all Indian households and is still dominates our kitchen shelves.