Nepal's top Marwari industrialist dead
Apr 27, 2007 - 2:13:15 PM

Kathmandu, April 27 - Mohan Gopal Khetan, one of Nepal's top Marwari businessmen whose ventures ranged from banks to breweries and insurance to instant noodles, succumbed to a heart attack here Thursday night.

Khetan, whose grandfather Purnamal came to Nepal from the Indian state of Rajasthan when he was just 12, leaves behind two sons and two daughters.

The 61-year-old was admitted to the capital's Norvic Hospital Thursday after he fell ill. He died there.

The Khetan Group, one of the biggest industrial houses in Nepal, started as dealers in textiles.

Khetan himself was initiated into the family business when he was a teenager, looking after his grandfather's sweet shop during the afternoon when the elders left for their siesta.

He expanded the family business by selling goods imported from China and Hong Kong.

In an interview with the local media, he explained that he owed his success to cashew nuts.

'They loved me there, at the Chinese embassy,' Khetan had said. 'However strong their belief in communism, they loved cashew nuts. If they were presented with cashew nuts imported from Bombay, they would make arrangements in whatever price we wanted.'

A royalist, Khetan grew up in the company of people who became ministers as well as top bureaucrats, including King Gyanendra's principal secretary Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan.

The industrialist had supported King Gyanendra's coup, hoping it would restore peace after the Maoist insurgency and help Nepal's flailing industrial sector revive.

After the fall of the royal government, at least two of the group's business ventures were plagued by labour trouble, being forced to stay closed for a long time.

Despite his family's money and high links, Khetan had also been affected by the bias against Marwaris in Nepal.

His parents, he said in an interview, could not get a groom for his sister in Kathmandu and had to camp in Birgunj town, near the Indian border, for months to find a suitable boy.

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