Born: August 15, 1898
Achievement: Founder of the Oberoi Group of Hotels; Honored with
Padma Bhushan in 2001.
M.S. Oberoi can be aptly termed as the father of the Indian hotel
industry. Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi was among the first to
recognize the potential of the tourism industry, its ability to
contribute to India's economic growth and generate direct and indirect
employment. He worked tirelessly to put Indian hotel industry on global
M.S. Oberoi was born on August 15, 1898, in the erstwhile undivided
Punjab, now in Pakistan. He did his early schooling in Rawalpindi and
completed his graduation from Lahore. In 1922, to escape the epidemic of
Plague, he came to Shimla, and got a job of front desk clerk, at The
Cecil Hotel at a salary of Rs 50 per month.
M.S. Oberoi was a quick learner and shouldered many additional
responsibilities along with the job of desk clerk. M. S. Oberoi's
diligence prompted Mr. Clarke to request Mohan Singh Oberoi to assist
him when he acquired Clarkes Hotel. At the Clarkes Hotel, M.S. Oberoi
gained first hand experience in all aspects of hotel operations.
In 1934, M.S. Oberoi acquired The Clarkes Hotel from his mentor, by
mortgaging his wife's jewelry and all his assets. In 1938, he signed a
lease to takeover operations of the five hundred room Grand Hotel in
Calcutta, which was up for sale following a cholera epidemic.
In 1943, Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi, acquired the controlling
interest in the Associated Hotels of India (AHI) 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. He thus became
the first Indian to run the largest and finest hotel chain.
In 1959, The Oberoi Group became the first group to start flight
catering operations in India. In 1965, M.S. Oberoi opened the first
modern, five star international hotel in the country, The Oberoi
Intercontinental, in Delhi. In 1966 he established the prestigious
Oberoi School of Hotel Management, recognized by the International Hotel
Association in Paris. In 1973, The Oberoi Group opened the 35 storey
Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai. Rai Bahadur M.S. Oberoi was the first to
employ women in the hospitality sector.
Today, The Oberoi Group owns or manages 37 luxury and first class
international hotels in seven countries.
M.S. Oberoi was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1962 and in 1972. He was
also elected to the Lok Sabha in 1968.
M.S. Oberoi was recipient of many awards and honours. In 1943, he was
conferred the title of Rai Bahadur by the British Government. Other
honors 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; named by Newsweek as one of the "Elite
Winners of 1978" and the PHDCCI Millennium award in 2000. M.S.
Oberoi was honored with Padma Bhushan in 2001.
M.S. Oberoi passed away on May 3, 2002 at the age of 103.