Born on March 10, 1911 in a banking family at Surat, Mr. Hasmukh Thakordas Parekh, fondly referred to as ‘Hasmukhbhai’ was the doyen of the Indian housing and financial sector.
A graduate in Economics from Mumbai, Mr. Parekh also pursued a BSc. degree in Banking and Finance from the London School of Economics.
After returning to India in 1936, Mr. Parekh began his financial career with a leading stockbroking firm, Harkisandass Lukhmidass. Simultaneously, he was a lecturer in Economics at the St. Xavier's College in Mumbai for about three years. He considered his two-decade long stint at the broking firm valuable, as it not only gave him his most basic lessons in the business but also immensely contributed to his personal growth.
During this period Mr. Parekh also continued to study and write on different aspects of the economy and economic policy, money and banking, and also participated in public discussions.
Driven by deep interest in investment banking, he decided to move on to his next major assignment. In 1956, Mr. Parekh joined the newly set up development finance institution Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Limited (ICICI). Under his leadership ICICI grew impressively to gain acceptance of the Indian business community, recognition of Government and even became a show piece for the World Bank.
For decades he had been stressing the need for a financial corporation specializing in providing long term finance for ownership housing. Thus even at the age of 66, when most people think of retirement, Mr. Parekh was determined to set up his most ambitious enterprise.
His lifelong dream of helping Indians own their home, as he had seen abroad during his student days, led to the formation of the Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) in 1977. It was the first-of-its-kind in India. It is under Mr. Parekh’s leadership and direction that HDFC grew manifold while being strongly rooted in the principles of integrity, transparency and professionalism. Soon HDFC became a major role model not only for the country but for the entire Asian region.
In keeping with his zeal for promoting new ventures, in 1983, Mr. Parekh promoted the first private sector oil exploration company in India, Hindustan Oil Exploration Company Limited. He also set up Gujarat Rural Housing Finance Corporation Limited in 1986.
Mr. Parekh’s love for writing blossomed right from his school days. In addition to being a regular contributor to the media with over 200 published articles to his credit on a variety of subjects such as industry, economic policy, capital market, development banking, credit policy, etc., he was the author of several books. He authored The Bombay Money Market, a novel book detailing the intricate workings of the money market in lndia. He also chronicled his considerable experience as a development banker in his book, The Story of a Development Bank (ICICI: 1955-1979). Some of his other books include The Future of Joint-Stock Enterprise in India, India and Regional Development, Management of Industry in India and The Indian Capital Market - Past, Present & Future. Also, his writings in Gujarati, ‘Hirane Patro’ and ‘Hirane Vadhu Patro’ are considered works of great importance in Gujarati literature.
His wisdom and warmth drew people from all walks of life to him for advice, guidance and inspiration. Mr. Parekh was a man of few words, and believed that strong views need not be expressed in strong words. He had a keen eye for talent and nurtured it by providing direction and ample learning opportunities.
Known for his humility, affection and concern for fellowmen, Mr. Parekh was associated with several philanthropic causes and welfare organizations.
In 1986, he was one of the founders of the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy and served as its Chairman since its inception until his retirement in 1993. His concern and love for the city of Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) led him to form the Bombay Community Public Trust in 1991. This venture was designed specifically to address the needs of disadvantaged citizens in the city of Mumbai. He took the initiative to finance Mumbai’s first public toilet by any corporate house ‘Sulabh Shauchalaya’. Additionally, Mr. Parekh served as trustee of the Sameeksha Trust, Saurashtra Trust, Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust, The India Foundation, The lndia Heritage Trust, The Chakallas Puraskar Trust and also served as the President of the Social Service League.
Some of Mr. H.T. Parekh’s major achievements are:
- The James Taylor prize for standing 1st in B.A. (Economics) from the University of Mumbai.
- Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Science, U.K.
- Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for his contribution to the field of economic activities in 1992.
The thoughts and dreams of a legend like Mr. H.T. Parekh live on forever, changing human lives for the better.