11 May, 2021

Onkar Singh Kanwar, Apollo Tyres

Onkar built on his father’s ­beginnings and established himself as a global tyre tycoon.

Onkar Singh Kanwar, Apollo Tyres
Photograph by Vishal Koul
Onkar Singh Kanwar, Apollo Tyres
  • 10,000 ­The number of car tyres Apollo makes in a day


Sometimes the brand is emblazoned in neon in the public mind, and the products do all the talking, but the founders lead quiet lives—letting themselves be unapparent, like good background music. One such business figure is Onkar Singh, the man behind Apollo Tyres. According to his biographer Tim Bouquet, his only regret is “that life should have been so different from what he would have liked it to be”. That essentially harks back to the battle he picked in the ’90s, over business decisions, with his guardian angel, his father Raunaq Singh—a traumatic break-off with a man who he revered.

Raunaq (1922-2002) was the classic, hardscrabble Partition refugee from West Punjab who beat the odds through his industrious first nature, building his fortune from scratch, steel pipe by steel pipe, to become a first-gen business legend—with interests encompassing pharma, auto parts and tyres. Onkar built on these beginnings. And now,...

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