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RIP: Fatal Tragedy for Big Banyan Marketing Head

Posted: Thursday, 05 January 2012 14:53

RIP: Fatal Tragedy for Big Banyan Marketing Head

Jan 05 : Kawaljeet Singh, Marketing Head of Bangalore based Big Banyan Wines produced in Goa died in a tragic car accident on January 2 along with two members of his family while others suffered grievous injuries. The accident occurred near Mysore as he lost control of the vehicle he was driving.

After closing the calendar year, he was travelling from Bangalore to Ooty for a vacation with his family on January 2 when his car crashed against a tree near Mysore and he died instantly along with his sister (in law) and brother in law, while other members of the family suffered grievous injuries.

I heard about the tragedy from Maureen Kerleau who knew him too and lives near Paris after spending  a couple of years in Bangalore before going back after her husband’s assignment was over in India. She had come to know about the fatal accident through social media. One of her sources was Mohit Nischol who is a wine educator and lives in Bangalore. I wrote to him immediately enquiring about what had happened.

He replied to me today. ‘It’s very tragic. He was on his way from Bangalore to Ooty for a holiday on 2nd Jan along with his Wife, 2 yr old daughter, sister in law, brother in law their 2 kids and his mother. Kawal was at the wheel of a Scorpio which he had borrowed from a friend for the trip. He apparently lost control of the vehicle at high speed or slept at the wheel and crashed into a tree. He and the in laws died on the spot. His mother and wife survived and are in hospital with grievous injuries. His daughter is in coma and unconscious. The other two kids- a 3 yr old and 6 yr old, both survived.’

He adds, ‘I was in Mysore yesterday for his cremation and it was one of the most heart wrenching sites I have seen when three members of a family had to be laid to rest together. ‘

Kawal was an ardent reader of delWine. He used to tell me that as an article was published, he would read it immediately and then proceed with whatever he was doing.  When I wrote a Blog Wine Year That Was for the 483td edition of delWine on December 23, we received a Comment from him within a couple of hours. He wrote and I quote him, ‘your summary of the Indian wine market is astute and the snippets are of great help for the wine fraternity -which unfortunately is highly fragmented, compounded by the fact that it is in infancy and in serious need of nurturing..and patronizing..from our ruling masters, amongst the fraternity and most importantly the Indian wine consumer.

The future definitely is bright and we at Big Banyan are firm believers in the future of Indian wines, a slow, gritty and patient process. The rounding up of the players in the industry and what they have been upto makes a very interesting reading especially for brands who do not have pan India presence and daily market interactions with our counterparts from other parts of the country... Keep up the writing. Cheers Kawaljeet, Head Marketing, Big Banyan Wines.’

I had met Kawal a few years ago at the Kumarakom Lake Resort owned by Paul John, owner of the Paul group of companies that is in real state development, liquor and wine. We had been invited to taste the first vintage of Big Banyan wines. I had found Kawal to be a humble, warm, respectful and passionate about the wine marketing business he had entered and we developed an instant rapport. We used to often call each other to exchange our views and the happenings of the wine industry in general and Big Banyan in particular.  

Pic by Maureen Kerleau taken at the Bangalore Wine Festival. Kawal was sitting in the middle, relaxing after the event

Last we talked was on January 1 when he called to  wish me a Happy New Year and we chatted for over 10 minutes. He was quite upbeat about the recent sales of wines and the steady growth of Big Banyan Wines. In a lighter vein I told him that his company seemed to be focused on spirits, he laughed and said ‘’that may be so, sir, but we are also equally serious about wines and have our own strategy.’  He was a hard-core wine person and was a great asset for the Big Banyan.

The New Year, sadly, has not been a happy one for him or the family he leaves behind. A tragic loss that cannot be expressed fully in words and if I am still shaking with grief for him and his family, one can only imagine the heart rendering  pain of his family. He was a good man-we pray for his soul and hope that his daughter makes it and his mother and wife for both of whom life will never be the same, to recover soon.

Subhash Arora

You might want to express your feeling and prayers for his soul and that of his sister (in law) and brother in-law and we shall convey to the family as soon as feasible- editor



Mohit Bajoria Says:

i have just got to know of this extremely shocking news. i got to meet kawal only very briefly when we were holidaying in ooty in the summer, and thereafter we kept in touch. He was very helpful, and will always be missed. My deepest condolences to the whole family on this very tragic loss

Posted @ September 12, 2012 10:40


Rupa Says:

It's extremely sad to hear about the tragic accident which took lives of Kawal... My husband & I will always remember and respect Kawal as an extremely encouraging professional! We still remember the immense support we got from Kawaljeet - when we launched our first event at Bangalore, 3 years ago! had it not been for kind support from Kawal, the entire Big Banyan Group and our friends - We, 'Weekend Nuts' wouldn't have survived so smoothly! Hats off to Kawal - the bravo! Words are not enough to express the pain this accident would've caused to everybody linked. God bless Kawal & his family. May he rest in peace!

Posted @ May 14, 2012 13:20


Harpreet Singh Rana Says:

Heartfelt thanks to all of you for sharing fond memories and writing kind words for Kawaljeet. He was my brother-in-law but in true sense he was always a mentor, guide & brother to me. Can't help myself remembering those days when we used to plan out vacations...he used to be like always full of energy and great enthusiasm.Still chill runs down my spine when I remember the day we cremated our family members. It's hard to believe this great loss that we have seen.Still my eyes become numb and my heart heavy when I think about this evil incident that completely shattered our lives. We are still praying & making efforts for his daughter 'Avni''s hoping she gets well soon. May god give us strength to overcome this rough phase. I thank all the near and dear ones that include Kawaljeet's friends and specially company colleagues who stood by us in this hard time. He will always be there in our sweet memories and will always be remembered as a gentleman who was a little extra-ordinary and full of life & positive energy.....RIP Kawal!!! We will miss you always...

I know you will shine on your family...specially your daughter because she will always reflect your light and aura. Harpreet Singh Rana  Really appreciate your help in this regard!

Thank you in advance'
Harpreet Singh Rana

Posted @ January 14, 2012 12:17


Rajesh Chowdhury Says:

I agree with you Sneha. He was a wonderful human being. I met him for the first time in GOA. He had visited Bohemian Crystal Showroom to buy glasses for his event which was the next day. I helped him to get the glasses at the price he was looking for. He was very happy and from there started my friendship with this fine Gentleman. A couple of months later he returned the favor by referring me to Sandip Chandi of EAGM, East Africa. I met him on several occassions and have always got a genuine support from him. I will never be able to forget him. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. Rajesh

Posted @ January 11, 2012 13:20


Mahesh C.P, Says:

When i was working for John Distilleries, i used to say to kawal sir to visit once for chikmagalur. One fine day, Kawal sir and his family came to my native and stayed for 3 days with me. I loved his daughter and their family. I had a lunch with their family is my memorable day which i spent. We both visited many wines shops for promoting and placing our BigBanyan wines. I really appreciate him for educating me to how to promote wine in my areas and some tips to improve the sales of Bigbanyan wines. Lastly i want to say is " A LEGACY WILL REBORN " & John Distilleries has lost a legand..... With my sad love to u Kawal Sir- Mahesh C.P. , Educomp Solution Ltd, Chikmagalur

Posted @ January 11, 2012 11:40


Rajiv Ajgaonkar Says:

Hello Delwine I am writing this few lines with blurred eyes could not believe the news for a while n tears started flowing down my cheeks. I am related to brewery,distillery and winery trade as print/packaging person staying at goa, I met kawal in goa so many times.... great guy.....I wish god would have taken me away instead of him. May soul rest in peace. Rajiv Ajgaonkar

Posted @ January 11, 2012 10:56


Shakeel Syed Says:

It’s almost a week and no one who had even a little association with Kawal (in any manner) will forget the incident & the loss to BBW. I sometime try to put myself in his shoes and imagine the grief & the pain of his family and believe me I can’t think beyond ten second. It leave me with a big Q “is this what life is all about ”. the answer may differ from person to person but for me it’s only “uncertainty” . We joined the company same year and I have extensively dealt with him on several brand registration related issues and more than a way I can call him a good colleague & a friend. The loss is irreparable to the family & friends. May god rest his soul in peace and provide divine strength to his family, AND for his little angel to get well soon.

Posted @ January 09, 2012 17:50


Asa Abraham Says:

Subhash, thank you for the heart rending words. Kawal was a great guy, a wonderful friend and just great fun to be with. His total dedication to his work and his wines was so intense it was contagious. His sudden demise has been a terrible shock. He will be dearly missed by all of us at The Paul Bangalore and Kumarakom Lake Resort. Our prayers are with his family. Asa Abraham Public Relations The Paul Resorts & Hotels

Posted @ January 09, 2012 12:37


Vijayalakshmi Sisodia Says:

Hi Subhash I was reading about the tragic death of Kawaljeet from Big Banyan Wines. My heartfelt condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace. I wonder if you knew Sanjay Bhoyar, who was the wine maker for Yashraj Winery, Solapur and Ambi Vineyards,Ratlam. He too died tragically , of a minor illness in the first week of November. He was a gem of a person and a brilliant winemaker, though fame eluded him. He had started his career as a chemist in Chateau Indage, then was with Renaissance Winery, Nasik for a few years, and after a short stint with India Food co. , he became the wine consultant for the above two wineries and a couple of other wineries too. I pray that his soul too rests in peace, there will never be another like him. It was tragic that he died before he got his place under the spotlight. Regards Vijayalakshmi

Posted @ January 09, 2012 12:35


Ajay Gothwal Says:

It was a shocker for me, he was my batchmate at IHM Chennai. H e was a gem of a person and we had just spoken couple of days before , also we being in same field we used to discuss industry, college and our plans.I am still not able to come terms with this tragic loss. I pray to god to give strength to his family to overcome this moment. RIP Kawaljeet Duggal Ajay Gothwal

Posted @ January 09, 2012 12:32


DN Raju Says:

Kawal's gentle demeanour, his easy , honest, and friendly approach endeared him to so many people who became his friends for life. His customary call on 31st Dec to wish happy new year ,His up beat plans and visions both personal and professional for 2012 is still ringing in my ears. The scenes which unfolded at the cremation, the pain and anguish felt by near and dear, friends and relatives at the hospital in Mysore were heart rendering indeed. may god help the berieved in over coming the pain and grief. Still not able to come to terms with the loss of this " Gentle Giant " of our nascent Indian wine industry... miss you kawal.. D N Raju Mg Director Soma Vineyards B A N G A L O R E

Posted @ January 09, 2012 12:11


Chef Om Says:

I'm shocked to hear this. Still can't believe this one! I had known Kawaljeet for quite sometime as a soft spoken-well informed- hard working person, a good professional friend and a great Human Being. I pray for his daughter's recovery and may almighty gives enough courage and strength to his Wife and Mother to overcome this tragic loss. RIP Kawaljeet. You would be missed always. Chef Om, Director- Chef Om's Hospitality, Gurgaon

Posted @ January 07, 2012 18:12


kskarnic Says:

shocking. my condolences to the beraved family wish speed recovery of sweet little kids.

Posted @ January 07, 2012 14:53


Manish Vohra Says:

Though i have met Kawal only a few times,we always have shared quality conversation. Kawal was very passionate about wines and big banyan. May God be will the family at this tragic time and wish them all a speedy recovery. RIP Kawal. Manish Vohra Regional Sales Manager Moet Hennessy Inida.

Posted @ January 07, 2012 14:29


Yatin Patil Says:

Dear Subhash, it was very tragic and shocking to read about Kawal, we had just exchanged new year's greet-ings a day before. Kiran and I have always been in touch with Kawal on a regular basis and discussed market issues many a times. We're totally saddened by this tragedy and pray to God to give his family the strength and courage they need during this difficult time.

Posted @ January 07, 2012 14:00


Aeisha Sahni Says:

My biggest mentor, guiding spirit and wonderful friend, Kawal you are truly missed. The Big Banyan team continue to pray for his family and support them to the fullest. The office feels so empty and quiet without you. We truly miss having you around and promise to take Big Banyan and the wine division forward the way you would. Even though you are not physically present, you will always be in our hearts and pushing us forward to work hard. RIP Kawal Aeisha Sahni Asst. Brand Manager Big Banyan Wines

Posted @ January 06, 2012 16:29


Ramesh Rao Says:

It was so typical of Kawal when he called on the 1st to wish me for the new year - an impersonal sms would just not do for this courteous, soft spoken, gentle soul. He was a helpful friend and a great resource to everyone that he came in touch with. Kawal will be truly missed by all of us and the wine community. My heartfelt sympathies to his family and the Big Banyan team. – Ramesh Rao, MD, Mandala Valley

Posted @ January 06, 2012 14:17


Alok Chandra Says:

I first met Kawal (as we all knew him) when a bunch of the guys from Big Banyan landed up at a Wine club dinner at Tom Chandy's farm near Bangalore, sometime in 2004. since then we've been frequently in touch, and I had a big soft spot for this soft-spoken guy doing a tough job (yes, marketing wines is tough). I was shocked when Paul John personally called on the 2nd afternoon to tell me about the sad incident, and freverently hope that his wife and daughter recover in all aspects.

Posted @ January 06, 2012 14:00



A mentor, great colleague and a fantastic friend.. words fall short to describe the wonderful human being he was. Kawaljeet shall always be remembered with the fondest memories. His loss has left us shaken. I sincerely thank all those who stood by us in this trying time and lent their support to give strength to his family, especially to his wife and his mother, the loss of three family members in one tragic accident should never occur to any one ever. Our prayers for his daughter to recover soon. A visionary, dedicated, hardworking, compassionate and truly humane.. We at Big Banyan shall ensure that his vision and ideologies shall continue and is carried forward. R.I.P Kawal.. you will be missed and cherished with the fondest memories. - Sneha Rao Assistant winemaker Big Banyan Wines

Posted @ January 05, 2012 15:31



Thank you Subash for your kind words and sharing your fond memories of Kawal. Kawal was not only just a colleague but a dear friend and a brother figure to me. His loss has left us all scarred. I thank all his friends and extended family who where with us in the hospital during this tragedy, for giving us the energy, strength and courage to overcome this tragic loss. Kawal will always be remembered with fondest memories and his legacy and vision will be carried forward with Big Banyan. - Sridhar Pongur JMD and COO John Distilleries Pvt. Ltd.

Posted @ January 05, 2012 16:36


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