Submitted by: Raghav Khosla
I first met Mr. Behl in 2013 at one of the industry events, when i handed him a copy of Exhibition Showcase magazine. His personal warmth resonated a sense of belonging and confidence in me. He saw the magazine and patted my back and invited me to visit his office sometime. Soon i went to see him in his office and while sitting in the guest room i could see him addressing his team in the meeting room. Though not being able to comprehend anything, i could still feel the motivation! During our meeting, he told me many useful things about how this industry works. I was very impressed by his office and how fondly (& professionally at par with MNC’s offices) he had created its look and feel. He told me that he is fond of philately, numismatics and music. Born on September 10, 1944 in Delhi, he did his education from La Martiniere College, Lucknow and later Bachelor in History from Delhi University. He started his career in 1965 as the Area sales executive for India Foils Ltd., Calcutta and his last stint was as the Director at India International Wool Secretariat, Bombay in 1984. He started his own business as a proprietary firm in the year 1987 and soon Exhibitions India Group started to scale one height after another. Initially, he took groups of Indian exhibitors to trade shows in Asia, then the rest of the world.
Before leaving, he said that he would like to mentor me personally and he would always remain available for advice & guidance. You meet many people in your life but these are some of the things which you never forget about a person and what essentially separate a person from another. Mr. Behl is globally recognized for his path-breaking and visionary contributions to the exhibitions industry. Through his pioneering role, he set new standards to attract unparalleled levels of foreign and domestic investment inflows, generating new employment opportunities and changing lifestyles. Innovation was one of his core values.
He launched his 1st tradeshow, which became iconic over the years – The Convergence India expo in 1992. Over the years, EIG has organised over 100 international trade shows including the creation of some of the largest exhibitions in the country. Their current portfolio of expos comprises of the Convergence India (incl. Internet of Things India, Mobile India, EmbeddedTech India, Fintech India & Gamethon) and Smart Cities India (incl. Buildings India, Clean India, Solar India, Transport India, Water India) series of expos, Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) India expo, Global Economic Zones Expo & Convention 2019, Indo-Russian Friendship Celebration (IRFC) 2020, in collaboration with the Russian Embassy, India.
Mr. Behl received several accolades during his decades of exemplary service to the industry. Under his guidance, the Exhibitions India Group also received several national and international awards in recognition of its continued commitment to the exhibitions sector.
Well, Mr. Prem Behl was a true leader in every sense of the word and he inspired many to work & excel in this industry, especially at a time when very few understood it!! The visionary leader left for his heavenly abode on the morning of 7 December, 2020 after battling critical illness and lately Covid-19. His departure is a great loss to the industry but his legacy will continue to live on. Exhibitions India Group continue to forge ahead with the vision of Managing Director, Chandrika Behl and Director, Dhruv Behl.
Here is a small video from his last address that he gave at the India MICE Alliance Advisory Board meeting (virtual) on May 20, 2020. Despite his ill health, he not only attended the meeting but he also spoke at length about various initiatives and measures that are required to revive the Indian exhibition and convention industry. You may watch the trimmed clipping here.