Yogesh Chander Deveshwar, one of India’s longest-serving top executives and the chairman of conglomerate ITC, died in Delhi on Saturday morning after a brief illness. He was 72 years old.

ITC Managing Director Sanjiv Puri in a statement said that Deveshwar had “passionately championed the cause for sustainable and inclusive growth as well as the transformative role businesses could play in creating larger societal value”.

Deveshwar is survived by his wife and two children.

Yogi or YCD, as he was known among his friends and peers, headed the diversification of ITC from a cigarettes maker to an FMCG company with interests in hospitality, paper, agri-business, lifestyle retail, packaged foods and personal care, among others. In 2011, he was awarded Padma Bhushan.

Deveshwar, who is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Harvard Business School, joined ITC in 1968. He became its chief executive and chairman on January 1, 1996. Between 1991 and 1994, he served as the chairman and managing director of Air India.

He stepped down as chief executive in 2017 but remained a non-executive chairman.

Tributes pour in

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other political leaders tweeted their condolences. Modi mentioned his contributions to the Indian industry and said his efforts helped in making ITC “a professionally-run Indian company with a global footprint”. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called him “a giant in the corporate world”. Industrialist Naveen Jindal said, “His demise is a big loss to India Inc and the nation.”