From A Billing Clerk Earning Rs 50 Per Month To Building A Multi-Billion Dollar Empire – An Inspiring Tale Of ‘Father Of Indian Hotel Industry’


Success Story: Mohan Singh ‘Oberoi’s’ journey seems amazing, starting as a billing clerk at Shimla’s The Cecil hotel making INR 50 a month to founding a luxury hotel chain like Oberoi.Long before India woke up to the potential of hospitality and tourism, one man had a dream. It started in Rawalpindi, where a young teenager would gaze in awe at Hotel Flashmans, and ended with the creation of a multinational group, spanning 35 hotels. It was common to refer to MS Oberoi as the ‘Grand Old man Of The Indian Hospitality Industry’. Perhaps describing him as one of its ancestors would be more accurate. After all, he was the nation’s first Indian to head a hotel business.

Struggle And Failure

In the Pakistani village of Bhanau, in the Jhelum district, MS Oberoi was born into a Sikh family. He was just six months old when his father passed away, and following his father’s death, Oberoi’s mother took on all of the obligations of the family, which was not a good condition for a woman in those days. Therefore, when he was mature enough, Mohan Singh made the decision to discontinue his studies and start working as a manager in his uncle’s shoe business in Lahore (before Partition) in 1918. However, due to widespread rioting in Amritsar, the factory was forced to close after only a year.

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Life After Marriage

The life of MS Oberoi changed when he married Ishran Devi. He relocated to Sargodha in present-day Pakistan after getting married, where he stayed with his brother-in-law and looked for work. However, nothing seemed to be working out, and Oberoi gave up and went back to his home village in the Jhelum district. His mother requested that he go back to his in-laws’ place, even though he wanted to stay and take care of her. His mother gave Oberoi Rs. 25 as he was departing.

Ray Of Hope

Oberoi arrived in Shimla in 1922 to escape the plague pandemic after much struggle and failure. He was hired as a front desk billing clerk at The Cecil Hotel for a salary of Rs 50 per month. After going through a lot of hardships, Mohan finally had this chance, and he gave it everything he had to make the most of it. MS Oberoi, who arrived in Shimla without shoes and with only Rs 25 in his pocket, is now in charge of upgrading one of the city’s most illustrious hotels. In fact, the majority of the well-known hotels in Shimla were upgraded thanks to Oberoi, who worked hard to take advantage of the chance.

A Multi-Billion Dollar Dream

By mortgaging all of his assets and his wife’s jewelry in 1934, Oberoi was able to purchase his first piece of property, The Clarkes Hotel, from his mentor. Over the following five years, his diligent labor allowed him to repay the whole amount of the mortgage. After that, he agreed to a lease to run the 500-room Grand Hotel in Calcutta, which had been put up for sale as a result of a cholera epidemic. He was able to turn this hotel into a very successful commercial endeavor with his customary confidence and pure willpower. MS Oberoi, who created the second-largest hotel company in India, principally operating under the Oberoi Hotels and Resorts and Trident brands, employs more than 12,000 people worldwide and owns and operates 31 luxury hotels and luxury cruise ships in five countries. His first global business, The Soaltee Oberoi in Nepal, was launched by him in 1969. The group currently has properties in Melbourne, Bali, Colombo, Mauritius, Cairo, and Budapest, among other places.

The secret to Mohan Singh Oberoi’s success was that he never stopped working hard, which is why he kept moving up the success ladder. The Oberoi Group of hotels, which Mohan Singh Oberoi founded, bears witness to his legacy of excellence in service and his status as the father of the Indian hotel industry. The British government awarded Oberoi the title of “Rai Bahadur” in 1943 in recognition of his contributions to the Crown. And many accolades later, in 2001, he received the Padma Bhushan. In 2002, MS Oberoi said goodbye to the world.


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