There’s an Anecdote about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of India. In 1909, his wife was hospitalised with cancer and, despite surgery, passed away. Patel, a lawyer by profession, was in the middle of cross-examining a witness when a note informing him about the death of his wife was handed to him. Patel, legend has it, read the note, pocketed it and continued with the cross examination. He won the case. It’s tenacity like this that had won him the epithet, the “Iron Man of India”.
Name: Karambir Kang
Designation: General Manager
Company: The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai
The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower’s General Manager, Karambir Kang, displayed a similar dedication to duty and superhuman resolve when he continued to supervise rescue operations for over 60 hours despite losing his immediate family in the recent terror strikes in Mumbai. Wife Nitti (38), sons Samar (14) and Uday (5) perished in the fire that gutted several suites and floors of the hotel.
In fact, when Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata asked him to get some rest, Kang pleaded to stay at the scene and help with operations. Speaking to CNN, Ratan Tata said that when he had offered his condolences, Kang had replied: “Sir, you know, we’re going to beat this. We’re going to build this Taj back to what it was. We’re standing with you. We will build this thing back. We will not let this event take us down.” It’s courage like this that’s going to get the battered city back on its feet.
A man with 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Kang took charge of The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower as General Manager in November 2007. The hotel was recognised as the world’s best business hotel by Condé Nast Traveler UK in 2008.
On the popular networking site Linkedin, a management trainee at The Taj Land’s End, who has worked with Kang, wrote a recommendation for his former boss, on November 17th, 2008—just 10 days before the attack. “He is a great person, a talented individual, very helpful and more than just a General Manager. (He is) very easy to approach, has great ideas, and is willing to listen and help at any time,” the trainee wrote. The last phrase, every word of it, as we know now, is true.