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Shantanurao Laxmanrao Kirloskar (28 May 1903 – 24 April 1994) was an Indian businessman of Maharashtrian Karade Brahmin family. He was instrumental behind the rapid growth of the Kirloskar Group.
Kirloskar was the son of Laxmanrao Kirloskar, who established the Kirloskar Group and the township of Kirloskarwadi. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.. He was also among the first Indians to graduate from MIT.
Kirloskar was a global thinker and an enterprising person who had the courage and the confidence in the potential of his own country even in the pre-independence era. He often said, “Economic preparedness is as vital as military preparedness”. He viewed India as a part of the rest of the world and worked towards making India globally competitive.
After the end of World War II, the Kirloskar Group grew rapidly under the leadership of S. L. Kirloskar. In 1946, he established Kirloskar Electric Company and Kirloskar Oil Engines Limited at Bangalore and Pune, respectively. He is credited with developing the manufacture of diesel engine indigenously as an import substitute after India attained independence. He penned an autobiography under the title Cactus and Roses.
He created a business empire that enjoyed one of the highest growth rates in Indian history, a 32,401% growth of assets from 1950 to 1991. Today, the Kirloskar Group is India’s largest engineering conglomerate.
Shantanurao Kirloskar was awarded Padma Bhushan in the year 1965 for his contribution to trade and industry.
On 26 February 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India, released a commemorative postage stamp marking Kirloskar’s 100th anniversary.