Kathmandu, February 4
Renowned industrialist Lunkaran Das Chaudhary, father of Forbes-listed billionaire Binod Chaudhary, passed away at 3:00pm today while undergoing treatment at Norvic Hospital. He was 94.
Lunkaran Das, one of the foremost figures to promote trade and commerce in the country, was suffering from heart disease and diabetes, among others.
He is survived by three sons and a daughter.
Lunkaran Das embarked on his long and successful journey as an industrialist by literally trailing his father, Bhuramull Chaudhary, to the royal palace and residences of royal families and Rana rulers where the duo used to sell textiles and saris imported from India. He was only eight or 10 at that time, Binod Chaudhary has written in his memoir dedicated to his father.
In those days, outsiders, especially males, were not allowed to enter the rooms of female members in the royal palace. But Lunkaran Das used to get access because of his age. “And once he went inside with saris and textiles, the queens and female members of the royal family never used to disappoint him,” the memoir says.
Bhuramull finally stopped wandering door to door to serve his clients when then Rana Prime Minister Juddha Shumsher allowed him to operate a store in New Road.
The permission was granted acknowledging the benevolent attitude of the Marwari community towards victims of the devastating earthquake of 1933.
Soon, New Road saw a new store Bhuramull Lunkaran Das Chaudhary. The opening of this textile store laid the foundation stone for creation of a business empire called Chaudhary Group, now one of the country’s leading business houses with around 40 companies under its wing.
The Group, which is worth over $1 billion, today deals in a range of areas from biotechnology, education, electronics, finance and energy to fast movable consumer goods, construction materials, real estate, infrastructure and electronics.
Lunkaran Das, who is the founder of Chaudhary Group and Chaudhary Foundation, built the mammoth business house by laying every brick carefully and working strenuously.
At the time when Lunkaran Das lost his father, he had nothing but the family store.
He then expanded to jute business and started exporting the product to India and Europe via Biratnagar. Later, he opened the first branch of Bhuramull Lunkaran Das Chaudhary in the eastern Nepali city of Biratnagar.
Using this office, Lunkaran Das also started importing textile from Japan and Korea.
While the trade of imported textile was flourishing, Lunkaran Das decided to diversify his business and enter into construction sector, an area in which he had no prior experience.
He embarked on this journey by securing a sub-contract for construction of Kathmandu-Trishuli road section. Later, he also secured the contract to build Soaltee Hotel, now Crowne Plaza Kathmandu-Soaltee.
“My father used to say those who dream big should also have the courage to undertake tasks beyond one’s capacity,” Binod Chaudhary has written in his memoir. Binod has cherished this remark throughout his life.
“Since then, whatever we have done, we have done them in a bigger way than before,” Binod has said.
Lunkaran Das later founded the first flooring and furnishing store and first departmental store called Arun Emporium in the country.
He also established United Builders, Arun Impex, Modern Hosiery Industries, Nepal Spinning, Weaving and Knitting Private Ltd and Ratna Stainless Steel, among others. He is also the founding member of Marwari Sewa Samiti and Nepal Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella body of private sector.
“He was one of the pioneer businessmen of Nepal, who played a crucial role in industrialisation process of the country.
He also believed that a strong private sector could help in rapid economic development of a country and create a prosperous nation,” said Pashupati Murarka, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.