Prakash Tandon


University of ManchesterM13 9PL
United Kingdom
53° 27' 19.3716" N, 2° 12' 18.7164" W
Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1911
Precise DOB unknown: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
20 Oct 2004
Location of death: 
Pune, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1929
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



University of Manchester


Prakash Tandon was the son of a civil engineer and born in a canal colony in the Punjab. His autobiographical writings, published in the second half of the twentieth century, give vivid accounts of life in Punjab from the late nineteenth century. Following schooling in Gujarat and Lahore Government College, Tandon sailed for Britain in 1929, aged eighteen years old. His elder brother, Manohar, was already in London. Tandon enrolled at Manchester University with the view to become a Chartered Accountant, of which there were very few qualified Indians at the time.

Tandon spent eight years in Britain. He got involved in the University debating team, and following his degree at Manchester stayed in London to pursue some economics research and his accountancy qualifications. At a students' congress in Oxford, he met his future wife, a Swedish woman, Gärd.

In 1937, Tandon returned to India. He settled in Bombay and he eventually got a job at Unilever. Despite his accountancy qualification, Tandon was employed in the advertising department and earnt less than his British colleagues. He eventually became director of Unilever in 1951. He was a member of the first board of Hindustan Lever in 1956 and then the first Indian Chairman in 1961. Tandon was an extremely influential business leader in independent India, and one of the pioneers of professional management in India.

Published works: 

Banking Century: A Short History of Banking in India & the Pioneer, Punjab National Bank (New Delhi: Penguin, 1989)

Beyond Punjab, 1937-1960 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1971)

Punjabi Century, 1857-1947 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1961)

Punjabi Saga (1857-2000) (New Delhi: Rupa & Co, 2000)

Return to Punjab, 1961-1975 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981)

Secondary works: 

Lahiri, Shompa, Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880-1930 (London: Frank Cass, 2000)

Masani, Zareer, Indian Tales of the Raj (London: BBC Books, 1987)

Misra, Maria, Business, Race, and Politics in British India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Mukherjee, Sumita, Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned (London: Routledge, 2010)

Archive source: 

Oral Interview Transcript, Mss Eur T127, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras