CURRENT FOCUS

In a major victory for Common Cause, the Supreme Court on Aug 2, 2017, imposed a hundred percent penalty on mining companies indulging in illegal mining on account of lack of forest and environment clearances, mining outside lease/permitted area and for mining in excess of what has been allowed.

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MR. VIKRAM LAL

Vikram Lal, former Chairman of the Eicher Group, was born in 1942 in Delhi. He did his Senior Cambridge from the Doon School in 1957, after which he went abroad to study mechanical engineering at the Technical University Darmstadt in West Germany.

He joined Eicher, the family company established by his father, in 1966. Eicher started as the first tractor manufacturer in India in 1960, and eventually branched out into light commercial vehicles in 1986, and then into heavy vehicles. Amongst other businesses, it acquired Royal Enfield, an iconic brand of motorcycles, in 1990.

Having totally professionalised Eicher, Mr Lal retired from business in 1997 at age 55, handing over the running of the Group to professional managers. In 2006, the leadership of the Group was taken over by Mr Lal’s son, Siddhartha.

Mr Lal has been involved in a number of voluntary organisations. He is the president of Common Cause, a public interest NGO pursuing major issues relating to reform, governance and the enforcement of law, since December 2004.

Mr Lal’s interest in education has had two distinct outcomes. The first is the setting up of quality English medium schools in Alwar, Parwanoo and Faridabad where the company had plants. The school in Alwar celebrated its silver jubilee in 2003. The 3 schools together have around 4000 students.

His second initiative has been in rural education, where an NGO formed by him, Goodearth Education Foundation (GEF), has been working with state governments and other NGOs in primary education for well over 10 years. Currently, GEF runs 36 schools with Bodh, a Jaipur NGO, in the Umrein & Thanagazi blocks of Alwar district.

On Mr Lal’s initiative, the Eicher Group took on the responsibility of funding and running Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital in Darya Ganj, Delhi. He was Vice President of the World Wide Fund for Nature – India for 7 years and a member of the Board of Governors of the Doon School for 6 years. Currently, he is on the boards of Pratham Delhi Education Initiative and Resource Alliance India.

Mr Vikram Lal’s interest in cartography resulted in the publication of the first Indian city map of international standard – the Eicher City Map of Delhi – in 1996, and of Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune and Chandigarh thereafter. The City Guide for Delhi was followed by a guide to Buddhist pilgrimage places called ‘Walking with the Buddha’, a guide to Gurdwaras called ‘Walking with the Gurus’, and many others, including special editions for the Archaeological Survey of India and for several state governments.

Mr Lal is an internationally licensed and enthusiastic paragliding pilot.