Cracking the Code: SP Hinduja’s Love Affair with America

It was the cold war era, and India and the US were poles apart. But the thought that never used to leave SP Hinduja was the immense possibilities and opportunities if only the world’s largest and the oldest democracies could come together. For, convergence in approach defined SP Hinduja, late Chairman of the multi-billion dollar transnational conglomerate. He always believed and worked silently to be the converging bridge between his mother country and his family’s host countries with the US certainly topping the charts.

SP Hinduja with former First Lady Hillary Clinton, also seen Dr Bhupi Patel and Indu Patel (center)

SP, as he was fondly called, always had the US high on his agenda. He was a great admirer and believer in the US’s R&D efforts to push envelopes into technology frontiers. What is developed and adopted in America eventually becomes the benchmark for the world to follow, was his innate belief. California, the well-known established land of startups and cutting-edge technologies, according to him, came closest in reality to the definition of “Vaikuntha”- the Vedic word which literally means “the place with no hindrance or obstacles”. No wonder, SP Hinduja was the first business tycoon of Indian origin to invest in various start-ups through venture capitalists in the 80s and 90s.

Hinduja Brothers with former President George H.W. Bush

SP Hinduja spearheaded the Hinduja Group’s moves to acquire Gulf Oil from Chevron Inc. in 1984. It was the largest and the first big-ticket acquisition of a globally renowned brand overseas by a business group of Indian origin. He saw great opportunities in the early 90s to develop offshore service capabilities to serve the American HMOs and Health Insurance giants’ backend processing needs which India could service more efficiently.

SP Hinduja with Michael Jackson

Today, Hinduja Global Solutions is a listed Indian entity with delivery centres across the world including the North Americas. In 2008 he led from the front in over a billion dollar acquisition of Houghton Chemicals, a leading metalworking fluids and speciality chemicals company. It later merged with another global leader to form Quaker-Houghton, an NYSE-listed entity.

SP Hinduja and his brother with former President Barack Obama, also seen eminent Industrialist Rahul Bajaj (left)

SP was renowned for his ‘99.99’ reputation among the leaders of America’s biggest financial institutions. A phone call by him to the biggest banks was enough to execute multiple-million transactions whether for issuing guarantees, bid bonds, or opening letters of credit. Paperwork always followed after the execution of the verbal instructions of SP. No other Indian business leader was as respected by global financial institutions as SP – such was his reputation for acceptance by them because he lived his father’s principle ‘word was a bond’.

SP Hinduja and his brother with Michael Jackson

Healthcare systems of America always remained his special interest. SP Hinduja, like his father, believed that Healthcare and Education are the two most significant universal human rights. Indefatigably he knocked on institutions like Massachusetts General Hospital, Johns Hopkins, University of Columbia, etc and even managed to convince them to have a special association with the Hinduja Group’s Not-For-Profit tertiary care Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai.

SP Hinduja and his brother with former Vice President Al Gore

It was in deference to his extraordinary zeal and compassion to impact humanity at large, and the friendly relations he forged, that stalwarts like John Buchannan agreed to share the then advanced medical technologies like Gamma Knife, etc for the first time with India. 


Furtherance of Indian culture was SP Hinduja’s life mission. That’s why he reposed faith in an institution like Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan and helped find its roots in the US as well. He created endowments across many Universities and Institutions to establish research platforms- from Tropical diseases and medicine (endocrine lab) to Indic Philosophy. In the rarest of the rare honour to SP Hinduja, the man extraordinaire, the US Congress is on record to honour the Hinduja Foundation’s contributions.

Silently but most impact-fully, without seeking any limelight, SP Hinduja was instrumental in the waiver of the US sanctions slapped against India post-1997 nuclear tests and the successful completion of the Indo-US Nuclear Accord in 2005. These were actions borne out of his pure love for the two great countries.

Not very many know, SP Hinduja along with his brothers, Gopichand, Prakash, and Ashok, funded, dubbed and released over 1200 Indian films globally. Likewise, many Hollywood movies were released in India by them. SP was a cinema buff and was always interested in getting the best of cinematic techniques and technology from Hollywood to Bollywood, the moniker for the Hindi Film Industry. He used to often engage with great American thinkers, and story writers and commissioned a script for a film titled ‘Cracking the Code’ aimed to inspire answers to the mind-boggling questions of life and death, which he wanted to produce.

An unfinished task of a genius, perhaps!

Image courtesy of (Hinduja Tribute )

Share this post