Building India’s Appetite for Paints and Yoga: Ashwin Dani
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Building India’s Appetite for Paints and Yoga: Ashwin Dani

New Delhi: Ashwin Dani, who spearheaded homegrown paints company Asian Paints founded by his father in the 1940s, passed away on Thursday at the age of 81. He served as the non-executive director of the company.

Dani was instrumental in building the country’s paints industry, capitalizing on the demand of India’s emerging middle class. Asian Paints was co-founded by Dani’s father in 1942 with three other partners.

practitioner of Iyengar Yoga, Dani held various roles at Asian Paints, a company he joined in 1968 as a senior executive. He oversaw successful joint ventures and the firm’s expansion into a wide range of businesses, as well as a push into rural markets.

According to the 2022 Forbes listing of India’s 100 richest, Dani’s net worth was estimated at ₹67,841.77 crore, making him the 20th richest person in India.

Dani has also held independent directorships on the boards of several leading listed Indian companies.

Dani started his career in 1967 as a development chemist with Inmont Corp (an industrial coatings manufacturer now known as BASF) in Detroit, USA. He joined Asian Paints as a senior executive in 1968 and moved through successive senior positions, such as director of R&D, works director, and whole-time director. Dani served on the board of the company in various capacities, including vice chairman and managing director, non-executive vice chairman, and non-executive chairman.

In FY23, Asian Paints reported revenues of ₹29,953 crore with a net profit of ₹4,100.2 crore, making it the largest paint company in India.

He pioneered the idea of computerized color matching in the Indian industry. This concept is now widely used across industries in the field of paints, plastics, printing inks, and textiles. Asian Paints was the first paint company in India, and even in Asia, to implement this concept in 1975. Dani was also instrumental in shifting the packaging of water-thinnable paints for decorative purposes from metal to plastic containers.

In 1997, Dani led the setting up of the 50:50 joint venture between Asian Paints Ltd. and PPG Industries Inc., USA, for industrial coatings. He was the founder director on the board of the first joint venture company with PPG Industries Inc, PPG Asian Paints Private Ltd., which is currently in its 26th year of operations.

Dani was also the founder-promoter of Loctite India Private Limited (now Henkel Adhesive Technologies India Private Limited).

Business interests aside, Dani was also a follower and practitioner of Iyengar Yoga—a practice he embraced after an episode of slipped disc led him to discover the practice in 1980. “Right away, I got 75% relief and never saw the physiotherapist again. I began to practice three-four asanas daily and began to reap the benefits,” Dani said in a 2007 interview with Mint. Dani was a disciple of BKS Iyengar for many years. In fact, in 1998, Dani and his wife set up the Iyengar Yoga Centre on the first floor of their residence, Home Villa.

Dani was also strongly associated with various government and trade bodies throughout his professional career, such as the President’s Advisory Council of The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA; the Central Board of Trustees—Employees Provident Fund of the Government of India; Vice President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI); Board of Governors of the U.D.C.T. (Currently Institute of Chemical Technology) Alumni Association; and Board of Management of Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai.

Dani’s two sons are now actively involved in Asian Paints. His son Jalaj looks after international markets, and his son Malav recently joined the company’s board as a non-executive director.

Dani had a BSc (Hons) from the Institute of Science, University of Bombay, as well as a BSc (Tech) (Pigments, Paints & Varnishes) from the U.D.C.T, University of Bombay. He pursued a Master’s in Polymer Science from the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, US, as well as a diploma in Color Science from Ren Rensellaer Polytechnic, Troy, New York.

Source : Mint