K. P. Singh

Lifetime Achievement Award

The man who transformed urban real-estate

There are some entrepreneurs who are synonymous with their companies. And then, there are entrepreneurs like KP Singh who are synonymous with an entire sector! Most modern urban centres that dot India’s landscape today are based on the blueprint that KP Singh pioneered during his 50 years at the helm of DLF.

In the 1980s, when KP Singh started his journey, it was a Herculean task for anyone to buy urban land for development. Banks were forbidden to lend money to private players and he had to convince feudal families to relinquish their land which they had held for generations, KP Singh spent a decade earning their trust. Over time, Singh turned the tide where a private builder, for the first time in India’s history, started land development under DLF. He had to overcome archaic town planning laws and regulations and had to lobby with policymakers to modify the laws in the larger interest of the Delhi NCR region. The development of the city of Gurgaon became a model for others to follow. Within a few years, the city attracted over 50 per cent of Fortune 500 companies and now provides homes and business opportunities to over 19 lakh people which exponentially keeps increasing every year.  He persuaded Jack Welch, the then Chairman of GE, to visit India in 1989 and convinced GE’s Board to invest. When GE invested heavily in India, other multinationals around the world followed, triggering the flow of FDI into India.  This led to India becoming a top outsourcing location and an international IT hub.

KP Singh is the recipient of various international and national awards notably, the Padma Bhushan in 2010. Born in Bulandshahr in UP, he studied Aeronautical Engineering in UK but his love for horses and polo drew him back to India to join a Cavalry Regiment of the Indian Army. His entry into real estate was in 1979 when he was appointed Managing Director of DLF Universal.

KP Singh took DLF to its IPO in 2007, which, at INR9,188 crore, is still among the biggest in India.  The same year, DLF Cybercity Gurgaon was awarded the world’s first LEED Platinum City and Community Certification. He is a regular golfer and an active traveller. Community building has been his focus for the DLF Foundation with the same relentless perseverance he demonstrated in transforming not just DLF, but Delhi NCR’s real estate landscape.