Contact Us

The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Yogesh Munjal, 2016 September 10.
Oral history with Yogesh Munjal, 2016 September 10.
Munjal, Yogesh, 1940-, Bhalla, Guneeta Singh, and Joshi, Prakhar
Author (no Collectors):
Munjal, Yogesh, 1940-, Bhalla, Guneeta Singh, Bhalla, Guneeta Singh, and Joshi, Prakhar
Yogesh Munjal who is presently the Managing Director of Munjal-Showa, a subsidiary of the Hero Group, was born February 13, 1940 in Lahore, Punjab to parents, Satyanand Munjal and Pushpavati Munjal. He was the eldest of 5 brothers and 2 sisters. Satyanand Munjal is known for co-founding with his brother OP Munjal, Hero Cycle, the world's largest bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer. Shortly after birth, the Munjal family moved back to their ancestral village in Kamalia, District Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) in West Punjab. There they lived with the extended Munjal family, which included all the siblings and parents of Satyanand Munjal.His father and uncle were compelled to leave their village in search of work because of the shortage of opportunity in Kamalia. They started their careers at an army warehouse in Quetta, Balochistan, after which they tried their luck at a number of other types of businesses. Eventually they moved to Lahore and became well versed in the bicycle repair and trading business where Yogesh Munjal was born. They launched a bicycle parts and repair shop in Amritsar where the family lived for three years before moving back to Kamalia in 1946 to settle down. In July 1947, Yogesh Munjal started attending Khalsa school, an Urdu medium primary school, in Kamalia. He recalls the school building being two stories with a flat roof.He describes traveling with his father on trains, as a child, to places as far away as Karachi, Rawalpindi, Multan and Kashmir. They also traveled to Haridwar where 16 generations of his ancestors' names and history are preserved. They had lived in Kamalia the entire time.Satyanand's mother was a devout reader of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, but before her passing she donated their Guru Granth Sahib to the Kamalia Gurdwara, as her husband, Bahadur Chand Munjal and sons had begun following the Arya Samaj traditions. Desite this, her descendants to this day hold both Arya Samaj traditions as well as Sikh prayers at their homes and factories on auspicious occasions. Satyanand's mother was a devout reader of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, but before her passing she donated their Guru Granth Sahib to the Kamalia Gurdwara, as her husband, Bahadur Chand Munjal and sons had begun following the Arya Samaj traditions. Desite this, her descendants to this day hold both Arya Samaj traditions as well as Sikh prayers at their homes and factories on auspicious occasions.Satyanand Munjal had financed the construction of a new house which was completed in late July 1947 and the family had lived in their new home for only two weeks before Partition was formally announced. The home had a door that opened directly onto the street, and a courtyard with a kitchen in the center. There were two bedrooms on the back of the house. By summer of 1947, processions, slogan shouting and violence had reached Kamalia and it was no longer safe. They learned via a radio announcement that all Hindu and Sikh families were being asked to leave. At first, Satyanand Munjal went to Ludhiana and sent a message back to Kamalia via a traveler asking the rest of his family to join him, and provided the address of a rental property he had obtained. HIs mother, siblings and several members of the extended family decided to leave Kamalia at a moment's notice without any belongings via the last train. They left their brand new home. Yogesh had to leave his studies, which he had just started two weeks prior. While on the train, Yogesh and his one younger brother witnessed murders, body parts strewn along the train tracks and heard violence outside the train cars. There was suspense and fear in the air for the entire journey. There was no food or water to drink on the train and they did not receive anything untill they crossed the border into India. Once they crossed and felt safe, everyone was elated. They followed Satyanand Munjal's instructions and reached Ludhiana safely, where the family was reunited.In 1948, the Munjals moved to Delhi, where Yogesh completed primary education in the Hindi medium Technical High Secondary School at Kashmiri Gate. He eventually attended Delhi College of Engineering after which he attended Roorki University where he graduated with a degree in Architecture in 1964. He was also married to his wife during college. He had planned to open his own Architecture firm with two friends, but his family encouraged him to join and help grow the family business instead. Here is the incredible story of that family business, Hero Cycle, with humble beginnings in the chaotic aftermath of Partition. Hero Cycles quickly grew to become the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world,THE HERO CYCLE STORY:Once the family was in Ludhiana in 1947, Yogesh's father, Satyanand Munjal and uncle, OP Munjal, began looking for work to make ends meet. They started with the trade they knew best, bicycle parts and repair. They began visiting bicycle parts shops and asking for their requirements, and then took their orders to supply shops. They acted as middlemen and retained some commission. They eventually earned enough to start their own shop in Vidharganj in Ludhiana. As their business grew, they began to experience a shortage of parts supplies and decided to manufacture one part on their own, the top portion of a bicycle fork. Eventually they acquired a workshop in Ludhiana and began manufacturing the entire fork and soon, many other parts as well.In 1956 they won one of 100 licenses from the Indian Government to manufacture 25 bicycles a day. (Only 6 of the original 100 companies still survive). Their bicycles were the cheapest in India, selling for Rs 20/day, and enabling mass transportation of the workforce. By 1975, they were making 7,500 bicycles a day and in 1986, Hero Cycles appeared in the Guiness book of world records for being the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. Today that number has grown to 20,000 bicycles a day. The Hero group also makes Majestic Mopeds and numerous other bicycle and car parts. For the last 14 years, the Hero Group is also the largest maker of motorcycles in the world. They also manufacture solar panel parts, and electric bicycles. Over 200 parts manufacturers have emerged in Ludhiana to supply Hero Cycles.Yogesh Munjal also recalls the story behind the formation of Hero Honda. Not long after, they applied for a license to partner with Honda. Hero Cycles was one of four manufacturers vying for the license to collaborate with Honda, and were selected as one of fourfinalists by the Indian Government. When the Honda officials visited them, they were impressed by the both the incredible efficiency and speed with which the employees worked and the respect the employees had for the elder Munjals during the walk through of the factory. The Honda officials then chose Hero Cycles as their India manufacturing partnerToday, the Hero Group consists of several factories and manufacturing plants. The various plants are each headed by different members of the extended Munjal family.Several key factors led to their success as Yogesh Munjal notes, including hard work, a deep commitment to honesty, an investment in the happiness of their employees and having a reputation for paying their vendors on time without any instances of delay in the history of their business. They also have a deep commitment to improving their local communities, through the building of schools, colleges, medical centers, hospitals (including the state of the art Hero Heart Center in Ludhiana) and numerous other philanthropic ventures.Words of wisdom for the next generation: We should always think positively, and then we can achieve anything. Fix a goal and work to achieve that goal. Prioritize often. Work in coordination with others. Don't complain but instead appreciate. Don't worry about credit. This will lead to progress. Everyone should contribute to the greater good and the country. What if we all devoted half an hour a day, out of the 24 hours to good deeds for the greater good?On Partition, he believes the violence could have been avoided with better planning by government officials. Unnecessary loss of life could have been avoided.
History and History
Physical Description:
3 video files
Publication Info:
Faisalābād (Pakistan)
Faisalābād (Pakistan), September 10, 2016
Filmed interviews