New Delhi: Aviator Vijaypat Singhania says one of the biggest lessons he has learnt is that one should be cautious when it comes to divesting their wealth to their children during their lifetime.
The former Chairman Emeritus of the Raymond Group has come out with his autobiography ”An Incomplete Life” in which he traces his extraordinary life from an anguished childhood to the many dynamic decades he spent at Raymond and the tumultuous years after.
In February 2015, an unforeseen setback cost Singhania the work of his life and his cherished family home over a property dispute among the family members.
The legendary industrialist is fighting a battle to recover all that he has lost.
”My biggest lesson from this experience is that one should be cautious when it comes to divesting their wealth to their children during their lifetime. Your wealth can and should be passed on to your children, but only after your death. I do not want any parent to go through what I live with every day,” he says.
According to Singhania, he is now a one-man show, ”forbidden from going to my own office, which contains important documents and other material that belong to me”.
”I have also lost my cars in Mumbai and London and access to my secretary. Raymond employees seem to be under strict orders to not communicate with me and prevent my entry to my office,” he writes in the book published by Pan Macmillan India.
Born into the famed Singhania family, he was always expected to take up the storied family business. But not one to be deterred from pursuing his own passions, he also nurtured his love for adventure in the skies and broke two world records as an aviator, served a brief stint as a professor and even became the sheriff of Mumbai for a time.
Singhania says he cannot recall the exact moment when his love for flying began as he was fascinated every time he saw an aircraft take off and land. When he was growing up, the legal age to fly an aircraft was 21.
”So 11 days after I reached that milestone, on 15 October 1959, I took my first flying lesson at the Bombay Flying Club,” he recalls. He got his private pilot licence on April 6, 1960.
After getting this licence from the Hind Provincial Flying Club in Kanpur, he could fly three aircraft – a Piper-cub J3C, a Chipmunk and a Piper L-5.
”Mine was the first PPL issued in Indian history with initially three aircraft endorsed on it. While flying was an incomparable experience, I wanted to do it in my own aircraft,” he says.
So Singhania went to the Delhi Flying Club and bought a single-engine Cessna 172 for the princely sum of Rs 92,000.
He then went on a plane-buying spree, including a Czech-built Morava 200 and a Beechcraft C-18 (both twin-engine aircraft) and three 36-seater Dakota aircraft.
Among his many flying achievements, Singhania flew a microlight aircraft solo from Britain to India in a record 23 days in 1988 and is the first man to sail at 69,852 feet above sea level on a hot air balloon during which he set a world record in 1988.