I am not fit to be a politician...
No account of the Indian growth story in the last quarter of the 20th century, particularly the last decade and thereafter, would be complete without the mention of one man whose efforts made it possible for a great chunk of the millions of Indian middle-class families realise their dream of owning a house. Meet Deepak Parekh: whose vision, along with that of the scores of first generation entrepreneurs of independent India, has helped an average Indian to think of buying his/her own house, when it looked like the commoners would be left behind amidst the run-away success of private corporations and business families with a firm footage with the advent of globalization in India following liberalization of its economy. Thanks to the herculean efforts of the likes of Deepak Parekh, HDFC is today commanding a share of more than 55% in the domestic home loans or the housing finance segment in India.
Deepak Parekh was born to a banker in Mumbai (October 18, 1944). He had his schooling from the St. Xavier's School in the city, and then went on to complete graduation from the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics (Mumbai).
Although a shy and average student while at school as also at the Sydenham College, Parekh's personality blossomed when he moved to Britain to pursue higher studies. He went there to learn Chartered Accountancy. Soon after completing his CA studies from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), he joined the management consultancy firm, Ernst & Young, as a chartered accountant with their New York office.
He returned to India and worked with Grindlays Bank and Chase Manhattan Bank for about three years each and gained enough perspective about the banking system as well as the financing patterns and practices.
Obviously, the brilliant mix of cultures, people's, and exposure to a modern and progressive society through the course of his education in the UK and his first job in New York, transformed Parekh's outlook on life in general; more so about life of an Indian – in that he started reflecting on how it is now and visualizing about what could be done to help improve it. Admittedly, not everything could be accomplished for a task of that magnitude by oneself. But he was sure there must be something that was easily achievable.
He resigned from Chase Manhattan Bank apparently because it required him to go and work in West Asia, which was a digression from what he wanted to do here in India. Perhaps it was scripted that the son of a banker, Deepak Parekh, along with his uncle Hasmukhbhai Parekh – who had always dreamt of helping Indians own their home-, would extend the legacy further to housing finance in a country which was ripe for transition.
In 1978 Parekh joined the Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd., (HDFC), which was founded in 1977 by his banker uncle, as a Deputy General Manager. He was promoted to the post of managing director of HDFC in 1985, and to that of its Chairman in 1993.
HDFC, which began as a first-of-its-kind mortgage provider to the Indian middle-class house-holds over the course, has evolved into a financial power-house in the three decades since its founding, with activities diversified into Banking, Asset Management, Life Insurance, General Insurance, BPO, Credit Bureau and Real Estate Venture Fund. All this could not have been possible without the vision, entrepreneurship, and astute leadership of Deepak Parekh.
He has contributed significantly over many years to the growth of finance and accountancy profession, and his efforts have been acknowledged and honoured with his appointment or inclusion to various committees and commissions constituted by the government to address many a challenge. He was conferred with the first International Outstanding Achievement Award for 2010 by ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales) in recognition of his phenomenal achievements as well as his influence on the financial sector and business in India.
It is said that it was purely on the basis of the humanitarian philosophy which he shared with his uncle, that he was able to further the cause for which HDFC was founded – to provide housing finance to the Indian middle-class, despite very little early success and not much coming in terms of investment -barring some occasional help from the World-bank. Today, with a 30,000 strong network of agents, HDFC has been able to help fulfill the dreams of millions of Indians of owning a house, which has in turn seen it register an astonishing annual growth of 30% year after year.
The master trouble-shooter for the Government of India
Inspite of being a vocal critic of the government -manifest in his writing two open letters on the governance deficit and policy paralysis- Deepak Parekh has been nothing short of being a talisman for the Government of India when faced with many a complex crises. A combination of Parekh's business acumen, experience, insight, and intelligence have always helped the government sail through troubled waters when one crisis after another seemingly threatened to boil over into a major disaster for many stake-holders in addition to the government itself. Case in point being his appointment as special director of Satyam Computer Services Ltd., during 2009 to resolve the crisis that had sprung up out of nowhere and had almost doomed Satyam for good.
His help and guidance were sought by the government in various other matters of importance to the economic development of the country. He was appointed Chairman of the high-level experts committee formed to recommend measures for the revival as well as the strengthening of the Unit-64 Scheme, as well as the experts committee constituted by the Ministry of Power to look into the reform efforts in the power sector; while the Reserve Bank of India appointed him Chairman of the Advisory Group for Securities Market Regulation, which was tasked to compare the level of adherence to international standards in India with that in other countries.
Apart from elevating HDFC to the heights where it is today, Parekh's thought leadership and great financial and business acumen have been well utilized by many other corporate entities in India. Although an exhaustive list is difficult to set down here, some of the capacities in which he has either served or is currently serving are as follows:
Non-executive Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd., (since 1994)
Director, Siemens Ltd., (since 2003)
Director, HDFC Ergo General Insurance Co. Ltd., (since 2002)
Director, Exide Industries Ltd., (since 2001)
Director, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd., (since 2000)
Director, HDFC Asset Management Co. Ltd., (since 2000)
Director, The Indian Hotels Co. Ltd., (since 2000)
Director, Castrol India Ltd., (since 1997)
Director, Infrastructure Development Finance Co. Ltd., (since 1997)
Director, Hindustan Unilever Ltd., (since 1997)
Director, Hindustan Oil Exploration Corporation Ltd., (since 1994)
Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., (since 1990)
Director of Indo-German Chamber Of Commerce
Member of International Advisory Council of BofA Merrill Lynch (formerly Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.)
Member of Faering Capital, the Indian Advisory Board of Coca-Cola India Private Ltd., and BAE Systems India.
Member of Global Advisory Board at AECOM Technology Corporation since February 2012.
Non-executive & Independent Director, SingTel.
He is also a director on the Board of Airport Authority of India (since 2009), Lafarge India Private Ltd., (since 2005), GIC Special Investments Pvt. Ltd., (since 2011) and D P World, Dubai (since 2011). He was a director of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., from 2004 to 2010.
The very founding as indeed the growth of HDFC has sprouted from the humanitarian intent on part of the tow Parekh's- HT and Deepak. A man with a mission, Mr. Parekh's philosophy on Corporate Social Responsibility is simple yet profound. He believes that if a company earns, it must also return to the society and that companies owe a responsibility not just to shareholders, but also to all its stakeholders. Therefore, Deepak Parekh pioneered an effort that helped corporates and businesses who could not undertake social initiatives themselves to give back to the society. This was the creation of the HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure in association with Indian Cancer Society (ICS). The objective of launching the Fund was to provide financial assistance to the needy and under-privileged cancer patients for their treatment in established hospitals by tapping those investors who would be willing to donate part of the dividend or entire dividend declared, if any, under the Scheme for this purpose. The money raised through donation of dividend income by Unit holders of "HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure" would be utilized by ICS for the following purpose. He was recognised by the American India Foundation in 2007, for his work in the areas of philanthropy and social commitment.
Awards and accolades
Deepak Parekh has won several awards including the JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award by the All India Management Association (AIMA), and the Padma Bhushan Award (2006) by Government of India. Some of the other major awards and accolades conferred on him are:
* Businessman of the Year 1996 by Business India.
* First recipient of the Qimpro platinum award for Quality for his contributions to the services sector, 2003.
* Dubbed as one of the 'Stars of Asia' by Business Week.
* Listed as one of the top 25 most influential people in business and finance across Asia-Pacific by ASIAMONEY.
* The youngest recipient of the prestigious Corporate Award for Life Time Achievement (2006) by The Economic Times.
* 'Hall of Fame' award by Outlook Money Magazine, 2005.
* 'Best Non-Executive Director - 2006' by the Asian Centre for Corporate Governance in recognition of his leadership on the board of several companies.
* Awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by Finance Asia, 2008.
* Outstanding Business Leader Award from CNBC-TV18, 2008.
* The Priyadarshini Academy honoured him for his outstanding contribution to Banking and Financial Services, 2008.
* The Indian Merchants Chamber awarded him the IMC Juran Quality Medal 2008 for excellent customer-centric work in various initiatives relating to the field of banking and financial services.
* Republic of France conferred the honour, "Knight in the Order of the Legion of Honour" one of the highest distinction by the French Republic in 2010.
* "I think India should be in a hurry. It should be in hurry to grow, to be one of the leaders in the world. I don't think we seem to be in a hurry."
* "The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) prohibited all of us from lending money to buy land. When we stopped lending, foreign equity flowed in."
* "Some of the younger, newer business houses want to become a Tata or a Birla in two years not by fair means, but by foul means. That should be avoided. You can't become a billionaire overnight, unless you have done something wrong."
* "I have always felt that if a few top senior businessmen go behind bars for corruption - for bribing, then bribing by business houses will come to a stop."
* "I am not fit to be a politician; you need a different kind of skin for that. I have no interest."
* "My biggest challenge now is how to be a non-executive chairman of a company that I have run for so many years. It's probably my weakness that I can't detach myself completely at one shot, like some PSU bank chairmen do. If I did that it would probably kill me. But I want to behave like a non-executive chairman, I have to find something."
* "While there is a need to be vigilant, it is also important for the regulators not to be too prescriptive and let market forces work."
* "Any news is news today, we need to become more sophisticated. Today, anyone can become a builder without even a background in civil engineering or architecture and similarly anyone can become a journalist."
* "You need a second profession or some strong areas of interest after you retire. I sometimes worry that after I retire, I may age faster."