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Kirloskar success story roots from Belgaum

kirloskar-logoThe Kirloskar saga began in 1888 when Laxmanrao Kirloskar set up a small bicycle repair shop (now near the Shreekrishna theatre on Kirloskar road) at Belgaum and later Laxmanrao and his brothers set up a model industrial colony called ‘Kirloskravadi’ India’s first industrial township. In January 1910 when the Kirloskar were being ousted from Belgaum to make room for a new suburb, they found themselves in dire need of a place to live and work and hence the birth of Kirloskravadi.

Laxmanrao Kirloskar, founder of the Kirloskar Industries was born on 20th June, 1869, in a small village, Gurlahosur in Belgaum District. He started his life as a school teacher and later on, opened a cycle repair shop in Belgaum. But his ambition and mission could not be satisfied by a small workshop at Belgaum.

Kirloskar road was named after him as there was his Cycle repair shop near the present Reliance Web world (earlier Shree krishna theatre. Noty able to know what was that road named earlier)

When the Municipality of Belgaum ordered Kirloskar to vacate their place, Laxmanrao Kirloskar could not find a suitable place for his workshop. But thanks to the timely help of the Ruler of Aundh who offered him a place arranging loan of ten thousand rupees, he started his factory in an arid waste land by the side of a renowned railway station, named Kundal Road. The factory later blossomed into famous Kirloskar Industries and the station came to be called Kirloskarvadi.

Laxmanrao Kirloskar set foot on 32 acres of barren land strewn with cacti and infested with cobras. Driven by his faith in human ability, Laxmanrao banded together 25 workers and their families and succeeded in transforming the barren expanse into his dream village. Ramuanna, Laxmanrao’s brother, planned and administered the township, Shamburao Jambhekar doubled as engineer and all-round healing man, K.K.Kulkarni, an unsuccessful student, became a manager, treasurer and odd jobs man, Mangeshrao Rege was the clerk and chief accountant, Anantrao Phalnikar, a school drop-out flowered into an imaginative engineer. Such was Laxmanrao’s  faith in the human being that, Tukaram Ramoshi and Pirya Mang, both convicted dacoits, became the trusted guards of Kirloskarvadi! Superstitious farmers were extremely hard to convince and Laxmanrao Kirloskar took two years to sell his first iron ploughs.

About Laxmanrao Kashinath Kirloskar:

Laxmanrao Kirloskar

Laxmanrao Kirloskar

Laxmanrao Kashinath Kirloskar (1869-1956) was an Indian businessman. He was the founder of the Kirloskar Group.In 1888, he set up his first venture – a small bicycle repair shop at Belgaum. Strongly believing that agricultural implements must fit the milieu they are used in, he manufactured iron ploughs, the first Kirloskar products.

He had read about industrial townships in Europe and America where the owners of industries had built communities for the employees. His dream was to build his own industry and community for his employees; he realized this dream with Kirloskarwadi, a place where he started the Kirloskar Brothers Limited factory in 1910.

A man who believed that an understanding of one’s environment and reality was essential to the manufacture of path-breaking industrial implements. From this steadfast belief was born the iron plough, the first Kirloskar product. Originally intended as an essential aid to agriculture, the plough soon became an icon of reform and revolution. Shri Laxmanrao Kirloskar was not only an industrialist but also a great social reformer. When blind orthodoxy was rampant in rural area, he advocated the removal of untouchability. He banned untouchability in the township that he had established at Kirloskarvadi. He believed in social reform and trusted in the goodness of man. He employed ex-convicts as night watchman.

Shantanurao Kirloskar, the eldest son of the founder travelled to Pune to initiate a new aspect of the group’s activities – diesel engines. His experience of trying to secure the land for his factory in Pune was quite different from his father’s in Kirloskarvadi. There was no benevolent ruler here to bestow acres gratis. Shantanurao had to face the tangle of red tape and public resistance to acquisition of land for industrial purposes.

Finally, after arguing that factories have a longer life than human beings Shantanurao Kirloskar won a place for Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd. (KOEL), twelve months after signing an agreement of collaboration with Associated British Oil Engines Export Ltd. of UK.

This collaboration, incidentally, was the first of its kind between an Indian and a foreign company, and signified a bridging of the technological gap between east and west. The KOEL factory was incorporated in 1946, and soon after that gave India her first vertical high-speed engine.

Today Kirloskar brothers are a 1.20 billion US Dollars engineering conglomerate driving critical industries. They are century old pioneers in areas of specialization like power, construction and mining, agriculture, industry and transport, oil and gas and environment protection with a range of world-class industrial products and turnkey services.kirloskar

They are made up of 8 major group companies, each led by the best engineering and managerial talent in India. In addition to engineering, they have interests in civic utility systems and in Information Technology and communication.

The Kirloskar Saga began from Belgaum and if in 1910 Laxmanrao had not been ousted from Belgaum may be Belgaum would have been a different place.

20 comments

  1. When I was in Denmark for training, I came across the only indian company add on Telivision there and that was of kirloskar group and I felt proud there … Couple of days back one of my relative told me about Kirloskars and their root to belgaum….I got preety surprised that they are from my place belgaum. But is there any relation now between belgaum and Kirloskars apart from the name to the street?

  2. Uday – I would like to give a contrarian view on this article & the views expressed by dear Belgaumites. Because it is important to know of the misdeeds by the Kirloskars. They might have carved out a name for themselves in the Industrial field but they also carry the burden of letting down thousands of investors, mostly retired people who invested in the name of Kirloskars. These people were left to fend for themselves (just like the Sharada group now in west Bengal). Pls read my post http://bit.ly/X2kPKM for further information on the subject

  3. Gajanan Anandache

    Just read autobiography by Shantanu Kirloskar… “Cactus and roses”……

  4. Gajanan Anandache

    I am very proud that i was a part of Kirloskar….A true inspiration behind my success……

  5. Rajendra Belgaumkar

    So glad you published this story on AAB. Just imagine if our forefathers had worked with the Kirloskars then, while also meeting the need of Belgaum to grow residential areas. Belgaum has such huge potential. I hope and pray that our sated elected leaders and well meaning opinion leaders in Belgaum come together and draft a reasonable workable plan for this city. I will be more than willing to be of assistance for such a march toward helping Belgaum intersect with it potential destiny in our lifetimes.

  6. m very proud to be a belgaumite after knowing that Mr Laxman Kirloskar was born in belgaum and it is belgaum where his success story started. i will be very happy if his decendants do something for development of belgaum.

  7. Rely kirlosker Sir is great. Today I am so happy .Because this man history is a great .

    • Yes! Murali Kirloskar Sir is great person to India. Iam also very happy about Kirloskar Sir story. After seen this message iam try to study Shantanurao Kirloskar's book, "Cactus to Roses".

      Thanks Regards,
      L.Saravanan.

  8. Great stuff but, sad for Belgaum.

  9. This is interesting that Kirloskar belong to my home town ie Belgaum, & I m the employee of the Kirloskar Oil engines, I m proud of it.

  10. I would recommend everyone to read Shantanurao Kirloskar’s book, “Cactus to Roses”. That is a really inspiring autobiography that deals with not just the history of the Kirloskar family; but also has some very valuable management lessons.

    As regards to doing something for Belgaum, the finger also points back to Belgaumites. Seeing the constant Karnataka-Maharashtra / Kannada-Marathi bickering, some Hindu-Muslim tensions, lack of electricity, water & infrastructure, corruption, etc.; I seriously doubt if businessmen take Belgaum seriously. One can see a clear difference between Belgaum and neighbors like Kolhapur & Hubli.

    I am equally guilty for not doing much for my home-town of Belgaum. Sitting over 9,000 miles away, I come once every couple of years for a week to 10 days. But I do make it a point to financially help some poor families I personally know. I really wish I would do more; but have no faith in middle-men to do anything.

    • Hello Mukund,

      you're absolutely right! and it's never too late to start something in Belgaum. One among us may bring a revolution in Belgaum

  11. Yes this is the saddest part of the story … after my previous comment i feeling very proud that belgaum has such unique links .. then later i was asking myself .. what have these links done to belgaum … the list pf links will never stop but contribution to the city .. seems to be nill …. instead neighbours have always benefited …. Kirloskar has a unit in hubli, bangalore .. and not a single in belgaum to benefit the local employment here ….

  12. Well Said Dr Neeta , I share the same words of yours , What have they done for Belgaum or will do for Belgaum in near future , do we Belgaumites make them realize their roots or place they studied or belonged once, for that sake I have an additional comment to add, Mr R V Deshpande former Industry Minister is a Gorgian (Aluminus of Miltary School Belgaum ) what did he rather do for Belgaum, and to through some muck on face of so called distrct Incharge Minister Mr Bommai,he had done nothing either till date, the list is long….

  13. Kalyani or Kirloskar stories are no doubt inspiring and to the extent they motivate Belgaumites fine but they still remain stories unless they address an important issue – what are they willing or give back to the place from where they orginated?

  14. I know about this fact , and when in Pune I got a chance to meet Mr Atul Kirloskar (present Chairman) and Goutam Kulkarni Jt MD at KIrloskar Oil Engines Limited (KOEL) Pune some where in 1998, I had asked Mr Atul Kirloskar , will he do something back for Belgaum nothing positve he sounded then, and in later years He built the plant for Toyota at Bidadi (Mysore Bangalore) Highway. All this because the Govt of Karnataka gave subsidied land there though ample govt land was then too available in Belgaum
    Laxman Rao Kirloskar might have left less traces of parental histroy to the younger genration , I wish some one like Owners of Servo controls would have indpired the young Kirloskar too.

  15. This is one most surprising stroy for me … infact i never thought Kirloskar originated in belgaum … i always used think and even my friends outside belgaum used ask me why Kirloskar's name attached to one of the roads in belgaum … i could never ever explain .. but now i have reason …. and ifeel proud now .. :) thank you …

  16. It was so thrilling to read such an inspiring story. I am feeling positively motivated from within.

  17. Uday, very good story indeed ! Keep it op mate !

  18. Inspiring stuff! Great story Uday!

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