Remembering B.K. Shrestha

Features Issue 188 Jul, 2017
Text by Binayak Shah

A businessman, tourism pioneer, and family man whose legacy will live on in the lives of many.

Bidhya Krishna (B.K.) Shrestha used to speak politely, precisely, and in very soft tone. He never pressurized people to do things in his way, still he achieved a lot in his lifetime. That was the B.K. Shrestha I knew as the president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), and also as the president of Nepal German Chamber of Commerce & Industry.  

He was truly a workaholic. Every day, seven days a week, and round the year, he was fully engrossed in his work from early morning to late in the night. Holidays, festivals, friends, parties, entertainment, sometimes even family, did not matter much for him when his works were not completed. He did not miss his work and office even in sickness, or during big festivals, family parties, strikes, and so on. We saw him coming to office in downtown Kathmandu from his residence in Bhainsepati,20 kilometers away,in jeans and on foot, during bandhs and chakka jams. He continued to attend official duties and office even after his terminal illness was diagnosed.

His associates, including me, tended to think he was not a family man, but we were wrong, he was good husband and caring father. We saw him taking care of even the smallest needs of his wife, daughters, and in-laws. We saw him taking his entire family to holidays abroad on many occasions.

His dedication and hard work inspired many to follow suit, and also forced many to strive hard, who otherwise were less enthusiastic about their work assignments.  

He was man of few words. He always chose short speeches at conferences, brief presentations at meetings, and to-the-point discussion in board rooms. He spoke at public meetings with dignity, determination, clarity, and understanding of the subject matter. He used to do his homework before he went to any public meeting, and followed up on the outcome. Whatever he spoke, he seldom returned back from his stand. He defended his associates and subordinates at times of difficulties, and encouraged and motivated people around him to prosper and achieve more.         

He wore decent attire at all times and was groomed to a perfect gentleman’s image. People always saw him wearing flawlessly stitched suits with matching socks and shoes, leather belt, shirt, tie, and nice elegant handkerchief on his left side upper small pocket of his coat. People had difficulty in recognizing him when he wore jeans and t-shirts. Scores of people I know used to watch closely what he wore and imitate.

We knew him as a small eater. We saw him eating small portions, but good food. He did not drink much, but we were told that he smoked quite heavily, which unfortunately gave him the fatal illness.  

He always kept himself in low profile, but still did high profile performances, such as successfully operating Himalayan Travel & Tours, the five-star Radisson Hotel, Pokhara Grande, and Chitwan Paradise, and the long list includes industries, insurance, agro farming, real estate, trading, and many more private sector businesses, besides social and community development oriented public activities. He was the man who successfully started chartered cargo flights to export Nepalese carpet in volume to Europe. He was the pioneer to start worldwide courier services from and to Nepal.  

He took great interest in the development and strengthening of private sector business and socio- economic development. He associated himself for many years in the operation and activities of Nepal Tourism Board, Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nepal German Chamber, European Economic Chamber, and the list goes on. He served in many high level national and international-level committees chaired by prime ministers and ministers. He also led many business delegations abroad, with good results.

His kind and soft approach to work and life is a gift to his compatriots. His lofty ideals and vision will serve as role model for many. Entire tourism industry and the nation has lost a self- made successful entrepreneur who gave the industry several thriving business entities that are generating good revenues and providing employment to a large number of individuals.       

He made his business empire with his sheer hard work and dedication, which earned him deserved name and fame nationally and internationally. He always believed that no work is small work, and continuously strived for bigger goals. He started his first business venture in his early twenties, and continued this golden era for more than four-and-half decades, till he breathed his last at 07:30 hours on the morning of Tuesday, May 30, 2017. He was born in Kathmandu in the year 1953.

His down-to-earth personality, kindness, and calmness may be attributed to the great loss he suffered earlier in the tragic loss of his first wife and children in a fire accident. He always viewed any difficulties and challenges with a strong head and heart and positive perspective. I remember with respect his calmness when his car was attacked on the road by a group of people supporting strikes in his hotel.   

We salute your contributions Mr. B.K. Shrestha, you will remain close to our hearts forever.