Dharampal Gulati, the owner of the MDH Masala brand, often called the grand old man of spices, died on Thursday. He was 97.
“Mahashay” Dharmpal Gulati had been in hospital in Delhi for weeks. He died of a cardiac arrest early this morning, NDTV reported.
Gulati was the face of ads of MDH spices. Last year, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia were among the first to post tributes on Twitter.
“Dharm Pal ji was very inspiring personality. He dedicated his life for society. God bless his soul,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted.
“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,” tweeted Mr Sisodia.
Gulati was born in 1923 in Sialkot (now in Pakistan). A fifth grade dropout, he joined his father Mahashay Chunni Lal Gulati’s spice business early.
According to his biography on the MDH site, he set up a business in 1937 with help from his father and started selling mirrors, soap, hardware and rice. When the business failed, he returned to work with his father for the company Mahashian Di Hatti. At the time, they were popularly known as the “Deggi Mirch Wale” people.
He moved to India after the Partition of 1947 and arrived in Delhi with Rs 1,500 to his name.
He opened his first store in Karol Bagh in Delhi and expanded his business from there.
Gulati, at 94 in 2017, became the highest paid CEO in India. He was also known to be a philanthropist and built several hospitals and schools.