Unsung Heroes: Transporters, too!

3 min readJan 13, 2024

Before you conclude that I was referring to truck drivers — perpetually agitated over something or other — let me categorically say that I am referencing the fleet-owning motor malik.

Several hectares of forest are destroyed in chronicling the history of industry captains — the likes of Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Nandas, etc. But there is very little literature on the transporters. Many deserve a book. They truly are the original start-ups. The big difference is that they never darkened the doors of the so-called prestigious university campuses at home or abroad.

In my 15-year exposure to the world of transportation vertical, I laid my hands on a few nevertheless. P D Agarwal — The Visionary was the first biography I read about the founder chairman of Transport Corporation of India (TCI, a publicly-listed company). More than the book, brought out by the TCI Foundation in 1988, the stories I had heard about his style of building the ‘unsexy trucking business’ were goosebumpy!

Luckily, I got a signed copy from one of his most celebrated sons, Mahendra Agarwal (the founder chairman of Gati, which later got acquired by All Cargo group), during one of my visits to his corporate headquarters in the IT hub a decade ago.

These days, it would be next to impossible to ignore the presence (is it ‘omnipresence’?) of Ramesh Agarwal of Agarwal Packers and Movers. I gently tease him that he is the most plastered personality next only to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His Indian Air Force-capped image decorates all his trucks that trundle across Indian highways. No escape from “seeing” him!

Yes, I read his biography, too. From The Heart to Heart.

Recently, I received a copy of JKS: A Biography of Jai Karan Sharma — The Logistics Man of India, the founder and chairman of Chetak Logistics. He is no more. Unlike the TCI founder, whom I had never met, I had the opportunity to shake hands with the other two transport stalwarts multiple times. (I am yet to read the latest offering!).

There are many doyens of the trucking industry whose stories need to be told. Unlike today’s breed of chieftains, whose fascination with being featured in magazines and books on them or by them, the old-style trucking czars (there are many!) are shy and reticent.

Not to be missed is what Sharma’s book author Arun Arora bluntly writes in his introduction: “Corporations did not consider transporters to be polished people.” Has this attitude changed? Not largely. But to a certain extent, yes. The earlier corporate arrogance is vanishing slowly. That’s a good sign.

Out of self-interest. Or self-preservation. This attitudinal change has a lot to do with Indian businesses embracing the outsourcing model wherein their dependency on transporters has multiplied for the movement of raw materials and components from widely spread across vendors and finally for the dispatch of finished goods to the market shelves.

Plus, the entry of better-educated, “polished” next-generation entrepreneurial transporter businessmen. An image makeover! Mera desh badal raha hai!




An avid watcher & practitioner in the world of communication