Personalities

Personalities
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Palanpur may be best known for having produced the leading lights of the Indian diamond industry, but there are a number of other personalities whose achievements in different fields shine equally brightly. Though less well-known, these personalities are equally important facets of this small city in North Gujarat.

The vibrancy of this multicultural land has given birth to poets and artists, scientists and scholars, doctors and researchers, business barons and social workers, administrators and educationists......

In the literary and artistic field, the ghazals composed by Shunya Palanpuri, Saif Palanpuri, Amar Palanpuri, Ojas Palanpuri and Musafir Palanpuri; the classic photographic compositions of A L .Syed, K. L. Syed and Dr K. L. Kothari, the exquisite paintings of Amrut Vaan, the enchanting writings of Chandrakant Bakshi and Bakulbhai Bakshi are stars that shine brightly in the creative firmament.

Another set of Palanpuri gems are those who have excelled in the academic sphere -- scientists, educationists, doctors and researchers. In the medical field there are Dr. P. V. Mehta who pioneered mass family planning camps and Dr. Prakash Kothari who is a world recognized sexologist; while Dr. Ajay Kothari in aerospace engineering and Dr. Rohit Parikh in mathematics are scientists doing cutting edge research. Sociologist, Prof Rajni Kothari’s books are standard texts in many universities, and the unique research organization he founded, Lokayan, was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize.

Among the business barons, there are a long list of diamantaires – the founder figures of this industry like Surajmal Lallubhai and Amulakhchand Parikh, the pillars on which the modern industry took shape like Kirtilal Manilal Mehta, Mafatlal Mohanlal Mehta, Bagmal Laxmichand Parikh, Kantilal Chhotalal, S G Jhaveri, Kirtibhai Doshi, Arunbhai Mehta and others; and those who have built successful empires in other industries like U. N. Mehta, Fakhruddin and Habil Khorakiwala.

The Palanpuris have also excelled in the art of statecraft, whether it was the redoubtable Pitamber Mehta, who served as Vazir to the Nawabs, to the more contemporary Prakash Shah, who served as Ambassador and India's representative to the United Nations. Others who showed similar prowess in conducting negotiations, though in a different field are the trade unionists Kantibhai Mehta and R.J. Mehta, lawyer Dinesh Mody and political leader Nathalal Dahyabhai Parekh.

Finally there are the gems who turned their attention to the under privileged and needy sections of society – social workers who set up institutions and trusts that have worked for the all round development of Palanpur and its surroundings. These stalwarts include Kantilal Chhotalal Mehta whose vision created an educational revolution in Palanpur, Mafatlal Mehta, the diamantaire who set up Diwaliben Trust and contributed to various charitable causes, Dineshbhai and Maheshbhai Bhansali, whose largesse has benefited the rural people in many parts of India.

These are the real gems of Palanpur, whose achievements and contributions will be recalled and honoured for decades to come.

  • Amar Palanpuri
  • Bakul Bakshi
  • Chandrakant Bakshi
  • Musafir Palanpuri
  • Ojas Palanpuri
  • Saif Palanpuri
  • Shoonya Palanpuri
Amar Palanpuri (Pravinbhai Manilal Mehta)

Gujarati literary connoisseurs know this renowned poet as Amar Palanpuri though his actual name is Pravinbhai Manilal Mehta. He was born on 1st July 1935 in Palanpur city.

He is not only a great fan and disciple, but also a staunch devotee of late shayar “Shoonya Palanpuri”. His well known collection of ghazals has been published under the name Ujharada.

He is an excellent actor, poet, lyricist, ghazalkaar and organizer of cultural activities, with a deep love for the Gujarati stage. He has acted in many Gujarati plays.

He left Mumbai and settled in Surat in 1962, where he established an institution named “Saptarshi” for cultural programmes, which includes many world renowned classical singers, musicians and poets. He has also provided a stage and opportunities to young, fresh talents.

His creative abilities are not confined to writing ghazals only, but he has written songs and bhajans also. He lives in Surat.

Bakulbhai Bakshi

Bakulbhai Bakshi was born in the year 1941 at Kolkata.

After passing the B.Com and IAS examinations, he joined the Indian Revenue Service. He was the only member of the Gujarati community to have held the esteemed position of Customs Collector, a matter of pride for all Gujaratis.

His articles in Gujarati have been published in several newspapers of Gujarat and Mumbai for the last couple of decades. His columns like Navee Najare in Gujarat Samachar and several others in Janmabhoomi Pravasi and now Divya Bhaskar are popular. To date he has also published five books.

Mr. Bakshi has maintained a good balance between his roles as administrator and writer. As an administrator, emotions have to take a backseat, while they have to be in free flow and at the forefront as writer.

Mr. Bakshi lives in Ahmedabad now.

Chandrakant Bakshi (1932-2006)

Chandrakant Bakshi was well known as a Gujarati littérateur and as a historian. His analysis of contemporary news and events, as well as his political and cultural commentaries, were published in many daily newspapers and magazines. His style and language were powerful and impressive.

Mr. Bakshi wrote a number of books on a variety of subjects in Gujarati. His novels, collections of short stories, travelogues, historical and cultural books, biographies, autobiography etc. have enriched Gujarati literature.

Mr. Bakshi was also known as an extraordinary orator, anchor and teacher too. During the 1960’s and 70’s, he conducted a monthly programme, Samvadika for All India Radio (Mumbai) and anchored the weekly programme, Yuvdarshan in Gujarati at Doordarshan (Mumbai). He served as Head of the Department of History in Mithibai College (Vile Parle) and as Principal of Raheja College (Bandra). His fresh and truthful writing inspired people at a time when negativity dominated different streams of society, including journalism.

Mr. Bakshi passed away on March 25, 2006 in Ahmedabad.

Musafir Palanpuri (Amir Mohammad Deen Mohammad Sindhi)

Poet Musafir Palanpuri’s original name is Amir Mohammad Deen Mohammad Sindhi. Born on June 21, 1948 in Palanpur, had many hardships in childhood and lost his mother at the tender age of 12. He wrote his first poem at that time:

“Ab Mujhe Nahi Koi Pyar Se Bulayega, Chum kar Hoth Mere Koi Nahi Satayega, Kal Tune Pukara ‘Mera Raja’ Kahekar Aaj Mujhe Log Pukarenge Abhaga Kahkar”.

Slowly and steadily he overcame these struggles and achieved economic stability. As a result his poems and writings became more intense and gradually won recognition.

Musafirbhai is a very well known and established shayar of Gujarati literature. He belongs to the traditional school of ghazals. He was always considered a high calibre teacher and received a National Award for ‘Best Teacher’ in 1998.

Musafirbhai lives in Palanpur.

Ojas Palanpuri (Mota Miyan Ali Miyan Saiyad) (1927-1969)

Mota Miyan Ali Miyan Saiyad was born on July 25, 1927 in Palanpur, and became well known as a poet under the pen name Ojas Palanpuri.

His is one of prestigious names among the Palanpuri contributors to Gujarati literature (ghazal sahitya).

Ojas suffered from several ailments since childhood, and grew up in extremely poor conditions. His marginalized socio-economic upbringing impacted his thought process and was expressed in his poems. He was simplicity personified whether in appearance, attitude, personal nature or lifestyle. And despite the difficult situations, he kept his cool against all odds. Hardly anyone knew, or understood the churning in his heart, and he complained:

“Takaleef pade chhe toy hasee laun chhun. Mushkelee nade chhe toy hasee lau chhun. Aethi-j-to samajee na shakyun Koi mane. Man khub rade chhe to hasee lau chhun.“

He has published a collection of poems – Ojas. He wrote in both Gujarati and Urdu. Ojasbhai enjoyed a guru – shishya relationship with Shoonya Palanpuri and also a very close friendship.

The beauty of language, expression, thought and philosophy contained in Ojasbhai’s Shers makes them akin to sparkling pearls.

“Mareehastee maaree Paachhal ae reete Visarayee gayee Aangalee jal maa thee kadhi ne jagaa purayee gayee”.

It is poetry like this which has given him a highly-respected position in Gujarati ghazal sahitya. Ojasbhai died at the young age of 42 on October 4, 1969 due to snake bite.

Saif Palanpuri (Saifuddin Gulamali Kharawala) (1923-1984)

Born on 30th August 1923, in Palanpur, Saifuddin Gulamali Kharawala became well known as Saif Palanpuri among connoisseurs of shaayaree mehfils and other ghazalpremis.

Known for his colourful nature, he held audiences and shayars spellbound when he conducted Mushaiaras.

Saif moved to Mumbai for business and other activities. Originally he wrote a lot in Urdu, but he equally enriched Gujarati literature (ghazal sahitya) with his romantic and philosophical ghazals and nazms.

He produced two collections of poems -- Jharukho and Hinchko.

His Nazm Jharukho is not only popular, but also well appreciated by poetry lovers. It is full of compassion.

Shaant jharukhe vaat nirakhati roop ni raani joi hati. Mein aek sahazaadi joi hati aena haathe mehandi hasatee’tee, Aeni aankh nu kaajal hasatu’tu aek naanu sarakhu upvan Jaane mosam joi vikasautu tu.

Shree Manhar Udhas lent his voice to this Nazm and it reached many thousands of Gujarati music lovers.

Saif’s creative work goes beyond shaayars -- he not only wrote ghazals and nazms, but also novels. For a fairly long period in the later part of his life he was a journalist too.

He gives all credit for his work to Shoonya Palanpuri, Shayada Saheb, ‘Bekaar’ and ‘Ameer Saheb’.
Saif had a classical understanding of both Urdu and Gujarati ghazals. He was able to read different forms of poetry, like ghazals and nazms in all their beauty.
He was somewhat of an introvert and a little happy go lucky, but his language and nature were simple. He suffered for his simplicity and straightforwardness, and was let down by those he considered to be very close. He narrates the pains of these wounds.
Jeevan nee Samee Saanjhe maare, jakhmo nee yaadee jovee hatee. Bahu ochaan Naamo Joi Shakhyo, Bahu angat angat naam hataa.

The wounded painful heart says –
Phool kera sparsh thee pan dil have gabharaay chhe. Aene ruzayel Jakhmom yaad aavi Jaay chhe.

Many such painful and delicate nazms were composed, sung and recorded and reached the hearts of poetry lovers. Some of Saif’s more noteworthy collections are Nartika, Himalaya, Tajmahal, Mrugjal, Jawani jai rahee chhe, Sanskruti etc.

The economic and social discrimination, injustice, corruption and lack of moral values in society touched his heart and he expressed his bitter experiences in these words.

Keva yug maan hu janmyo Shayar banee. Maara yug maan Kavitao vechay chhe. Urmionee badhe mashkaree thay chhe. Kaam Saara Kare chhe ae Sharamaay chhe.

He struggled a lot in the city of Mumbai, but alongside he nourished his first love –poetry. He passed away after a massive heart attack on May 7, 1984.
In Palanpur, the road passing near his home has been named after him by the Palanpur Municipality.

Shoonya Palanpuri (Ali Khan Usmaan Khan Baloch) (1922-1987)

Born on 19th December, 1922. in Leelapur village of Ahmedabad district, Ali Khan Usmaan Khan Baloch was known to Gujarati poetry lovers as ‘Shoonya Palanpuri’. He is truly one of the stars of Gujarati literature (ghazal sahitya).

Ever since his childhood, he often faced pain, depression, frustration and tears, emotions which find a place in his poems and ghazals.

“Kya Sunaaun? Kya Sunoge? Daastaane Zindagi? Ghamzadon Kaa talkh hota hai bayan-e Zindagi.”

“Zindagee mein jeeke mara jaanaa ‘rumaanee’ kuch nahee. Dar – haqeekat mar ke jee jaanaa hai shaan e zindagee.”



 

Shoonya’s qualities were apparent from a tender age and he began writing small rhymes as early as when he was studying in Standard 3. By the age of 16, in 1938, he was already writing full ghazals. As he continued writing, his ghazals got more and more mature in form and language.

These have been published in several collections. Shoonya nu Sarjan, Shoonya nu Visarjan, Shoonya naa avashesh, Shoonya nu smaarak, Shoonyanee Smurti, Shoonya no Vaibhav, Khaiyaam nee Rubaiyaat, etc are his collections.

He was a scholar of Urdu and Farsi languages. Apart from being an expert ghazalkar, he was an expert translator, critic, journalist and creative writer. His translation from Farsi into Gujarati of `Rubaiyaat of Oomar Khayyam’ was well appreciated by literary critics.

Generally he wrote on secularism and about respect for all religions -- Hindu Philosophy, mysticism of Vedaant or tenets of Islam often found mention in his poems. He presented complex subjects with obvious simplicity in his ghazals, nazms and muktaks.

“Maanavi Chhun, mujh kalevar Kendra chhe……………. Chhe naajar Geeta hruday Qurran vaani ved chhe.”

Shoonya had the ability to face difficult situations without ever getting frustrated or depressed. He always maintained a positive and lively approach to life

He said:
“Jeevan maa Koi dashaa ne nahee Kharaab Kaho. Kamal ne Pank naa saundarya no jawab kaho.”

After 65 years of eloquent contributions with his pen, Shoonya Palanpuri finally bid farewell to the world on March 17, 1987.

Literature

  • A. L. Syed
  • Amrut Vaan
  • Dr. Kantilal L. Kothari
  • K. L. Syed
A. L. Syed (1904-1991)

Abidmian Lalmian Syed (1904-1991), more popularly known as A.L. Syed, is the Doyen of Indian photography. He is regarded as one of the key figures whose works have captured the glory and aura of the Princely States of pre-Independence India.

Born on February 2, 1904, in Vernawada, a village 16 kms from Palanpur, he spent his early childhood in the town where his father was hakim of the Royal family. It was a school tour of Mumbai in 1923 that played an important role in shaping his life. On that trip, a photograph he clicked of sunset at Chowpatty won him the First Prize in Illustrated Weekly of India’s snap shot competition. For the next five decades, his photographs were regularly featured on the pages of the Weekly.



Morning Time In Dyara - 1938
- A. L. Syed
In 1925, his images first began appearing in Kumar, a Gujarati magazine, edited by well- known artist Ravi Shankar Raval, and he was a regular contributor, with photos and feature articles till the publication ceased in 1940.

At that time he was already working with his elder brother, K.L. Syed, a well known freelance and also official court photographer in Palanpur. But unlike his brother, A.L. went beyond portraits, and his famous photograph ‘Traveller of the East’ taken in 1934, won international recognition and was published as one of the world’s best photographs in Odhan Press Home Library series. Since then it has been a part of over 40 international exhibitions and winner of the annual Popular Photography award in 1935, and later became part of the famous Hutchinson Collection in the USA.


Street Sweeper - 1938
- A. L. Syed
One of his many one-man shows was inaugurated by the then President of India, V.V. Giri, on the occasion of the 6th Convention of the Federation of Indian Photography hosted by the Camera Society, Delhi.

Another of his photographs, ‘Difficult Ascent’ was chosen for an award from among the 2,500 received from 15 Asia Pacific countries in the Asia Pacific Cultural Center for the UNESCO (ACCU) Photo Contest in Tokyo in 1977, and in 1980 he was given the honour of inaugurating a photographic exhibition organized by Illustrated Weekly of India to commemorate its centenary. Later in 1983, he was one of the 10 eminent photographers of the world to receive the India International Photographic Council’s highest honour, the Honorary Fellowship for outstanding contribution and service to various branches of photography.

Mr. Syed was more than a photographer; he was a master artist, highly respected in India and abroad, both professionally and personally. His skill in bringing alive remarkable images of day to day life around the country and crafting exquisite portraits have made his work live long after he passed away on August 30, 1991.

Amrut Vaan

Born in a Jain family, Amrutlal Vaan completed his primary education in Pilucha and then came to Palanpur for further studies. While in his hometown, he had imbibed a deep love for nature and this provided the foundations of his lifelong attachment to art.

Mr. Vaan’s passion for art got a boost in Palanpur, thanks to the encouragement he received from teachers like Shri Tulja Shankar Shukla. He could not complete his matriculation, and came to Mumbai with a desire for art still burning in him. He joined the renowned Sir J. J. School of Arts for formal training and obtained a Diploma (G D Art) (First Class) in painting in 1934.



Oil painting by Amrut Vaan
later blended western and eastern styles in his creations and combined western colour schemes with Indian subjects. He was also a master of the art of doing portraits and landscapes. Mr. Vaan was a role model for many, and his paintings reminded one of all time greats like Rembrandt and Turner. A special mention must be made of his association with creating sketches of some cartoon characters like Bakor Patel and Shakri Patlani, who later became legends in Gujarati children’s literature.

After completing his studies, he began his career in Palanpur and over the years established himself among the front ranking portrait painters of the country. He also became a State Artist of the Palanpur State and made some remarkable paintings of royal dignitaries like the Maharaja of Vadodara, Kashmir, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Nawab of Radhanpur etc.


Oil painting by Amrut Vaan
Besides painting, he was a sculptor as well and created some masterpieces including those of the Lion Couple, poet Narmad and Kirti Stambh of Palanpur. He also began a sculpture of Saraswati, but breathed his last before it could be finished.

Mr. Vaan also worked as a painting teacher in Gurva High School and some of his paintings are preserved in the school hall. His love for photography is also well-known and there is a need to further research his work in this field.

Several of his students are big names in the field including Prem Raval, Rasik Soni and Popat Raval.

Mr. Vaan had a weak physical constitution, and contracted cancer because of his addiction to tobacco, but he never gave up his passion for art. He died in harness while working on a sculpture of Saraswati.

Dr. Kantilal L. Kothari

doctor by profession, Dr Kantilal L. Kothari achieved world wide recognition for his outstanding photography.

Dr Kothari’s pictures and colour transparencies have been exhibited in over 500 photographic salons across the world and have been published in books and leading magazines in India, UK, USA and Europe.

He was an Honorary Excellence of the World Federation of Photographic Art, a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, a Fellow of the Photographic Society of America and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London.

 

President of the Federation of Indian Photography, Dr Kothari was also a judge in various national and international photography exhibitions, and gave a number of lectures and even wrote extensively on the subject.

He is the only Indian photographer to have been a featured speaker at the National Convention of the Photographic Society of America, and was invited by the world’s largest photographic organization, the Photographic Society of America, to deliver lectures and exhibit his black and white and coloured photographs that reflect the unique beauty and richness of Indian culture.

 

As a doctor he commanded a good respect because of his diagnostic skills. He had a flourishing practice in Palanpur.

Dr. Kothari passed away in Palanpur.






K. L. Syed (1880-1942)

Khanji Mian Lal Mian Syed (1880-1942), popularly known as K.L.Syed, was a famous photographer, whose pioneering efforts in the field spurred the development of two other world class photographers from the town. Born in Palanpur in 1880, Syed studied in Gujarati medium upto Std IV, and later pursued his first love, photography.
At a young age, he borrowed Rs.150 and left for Mumbai, where he lived with the Momin’s of North Gujarat, the community that drove the stately horse carriages known as Victoria’s. After learning the basics of photography, he moved to Vadodara where he earned enough money photographing friends and relatives to finally return to Palanpur.

 

father being the hakim of the Royal family, Mr. Syed soon came in contact with the then Nawab Shri Taley Mohammed Khan, who was very impressed with the photographs Mr. Syed took of his family. Soon Mr. Syed began accompanying the Nawab on all his trips, and eventually as the official photographer of Palanpur State, he had the opportunity to photograph the royalty in princely states like Kashmir, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Durgapur and Bikaner.

Mr. K.L. Syed’s photographs of the kings, their families, their hunting games and various celebrations were highly appreciated, and he became famous for his day light shots and portrait photography.

 

Finally when Prince designate, Prince of Wales came to India, Mr. Syed was invited to Delhi, at the instance of Maharaja Shri Ganga Singhji, the King of Bikaner, where he was honoured as a photographer.

Mr. K.L. Syed passed away on November 4, 1942, but his legacy continued as his son Akhtarbhai K. Syed, too, won a number of photographic awards.




Art/ Photography

  • Amulakhbhai Khubchand Parikh
  • Arun R. Mehta
  • Bagmal Laxmichand Parikh
  • F. T. Khorakiwala
  • Gautam S. Adani
  • Habil Khorakiwala
  • Kantilal Chhotalal Mehta
  • Kirtibhai K. Doshi
  • Kirtilal Manilal Mehta
  • Mafatlal Mohanlal Mehta
  • S. G. Jhaveri
  • Surajmal Lallubhai Mehta
  • Uttamchand N. Mehta
Amulakhbhai Khubchand Parikh (VS 1898-VS 1966)

Amulakhbhai Khubchand Parikh was born in Palanpur on Posh Sud 15 in Vikram Samvaat, 1898. He came from a well-to-do family and his father was both a businessman and a Potedar in the Nawab’s palace.

The youngest of six brothers, Amulakhbhai was extremely bright and well behaved, and so his parents began his education at the tender age of five. Young Amulakhbhai excelled in his studies, but unfortunately lost his father when he was just nine. By the age of 12 he got involved in the family business, and his special qualities of honesty, humility, devoutness and praticality brought him success in business.

In 1956, Amulakhbhai opened a showroom at Apollo Bunder in Mumbai named Amulakh Brothers. This new venture was a huge success and he had business dealings with royal families, governors, viceroys etc. The Nawabsaheb of Palanpur decorated him with the title of Shahsodagar Sheth.


Amulakh Khubchand Parikh
smarak bhavan,
Pattharsadak, Palanpur
Amulakhbhai had an extremely benevolent nature and provided all help and hospitality to young Palanpuri migrants who came to Mumbai to start new businesses. He encouraged youngsters to come to Mumbai and join the business of diamonds and jewellery. The youngsters could stay at his office for six months and he provided free food to them and took personal interest in their growth and success. There were several youngsters who took advantage of his hospitality and eventually started their own successful business.

Amulakhbhai passed away on Posh Sud 14 in VS 1966. In his memory, his family members and friends erected the Amulakh Smarak Bhavan and Sravikshala in Palanpur, a tribute that stands even today.

Arunkumar Ramniklal Mehta -- Chairman, Rosy Blue

Mr. Arunkumar R. Mehta is the founder and Chairman of Rosy Blue group of Companies.

He co-founded B. Arunkumar & Co. as a partnership firm with his uncle, Mr. Bhanuchandra Bhansali over four decades ago, and under their leadership it has developed into a large corporate with major international operations.

Rosy Blue is a dynamic family organization built on the values of expertise and integrity. For over 45 years, the skills and reputation have passed from generation to generation.

The company is a leading DTC Sightholder, and one of the early diamond companies to have integrated into jewellery manufacturing. Today with offices, factories and stores in 15 countries, 15,000 employees and US$1.7 bn in sales, Rosy Blue is firmly established across the value chain and in all major diamond and jewellery centers globally. In each centre the local business is a leading player in the markets.

Mr. Mehta is a founder member and first Vice-President of the Diamond Exporters Association Ltd. and a member of the Managing Committee of the Bharat Diamond Bourse. He is also a former member of the Working Committee of The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, a position he held for over 20 years.

His contribution to the diamond industry has been immense, and many successful diamantaires have been trained under him.

Mr. Mehta and his family have been actively involved in a number of philanthropic projects in the educational and health sectors.

Mr. Mehta is also a trustee of Rajmal Rikhavchand Mehta Charitable Trust, Sir Kikabhai Premchand Trust Settlement No. XI, Vidyamandir Trust - Palanpur, Lokniketan – Ratanpur, Bombay Diamond Merchants Association Relief Fund, Gem & Jewellery National Relief Foundation and the President of Palanpur Samaj Kendra.

Mr. Mehta lives in Mumbai.

Bagmalbhai Laxmichand Parikh (1918-1995)

Bagmalbhai Laxmichand Parikh, fondly known as Babushah throughout the diamond industry is regarded as one of the most important mentors and teachers of the modern diamond industry in India as well as the founder of the diamond manufacturing industry in India. Large numbers of Indian diamantaires have learnt their technical skills and developed their business acumen either directly or indirectly from him.

Born on July 20, 1918 in Palanpur, Bagmalbhai lost his father at a very young age, and was brought up by his elder brother Chimanbhai. But his brother too passed away when Bagmalbhai was just 22 and then he shouldered the responsibility of looking after the family.

A visionary, Bagmalbhai took an unprecedented step in the early 1940s, when he set up a diamond cutting factory in the town of Navsari, bypassing his native Palanpur as it was plagued with power shortages. This pioneering move was the small seed which flowered into the mega diamond industry of South Gujarat today.

 

But Babushah’s legacy is much greater, for it was not just his pioneering step, but the manner in which he developed the business, that really counted. Working closely with his artisans, Bagmalbhai first learnt and then advanced the techniques with which the rough diamonds were cut, innovating the technique of single spindle bruting, and later pioneering the conversion of flat round diamonds which he procured from the royal families into marquises.

Despite being a pioneer in the industry, Babushah was ever ready to share his knowledge and experience with new entrants to the industry, and many of the leading diamantaires learnt their skills from him. It is widely said that “Babushah was a one man college!”

In 1960, Bagmalbhai set up Mahendra Brothers, and in 1966 the company was the first recipient of the National Award for Outstanding Exports of Cut and Polished Diamonds from India. Three years later, in 1969, Mahendra Brothers became the first company to be awarded a Manufacturing Sight in India. In 1974, the family business expanded to Antwerp where it established Diarough NV, today one of the leading diamond companies in the world.

Bagmalbhai’s contribution to the Indian diamond industry was recognized by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council in 1987 with an award for being the Pioneer of Indian Diamond Manufacturing. The company, Mahendra Brothers has also won numerous other export awards.


GJEPC Lifetime Achievement Award being presented
by Shri N.D.Tiwari, then Minister of Finance.
Another facet of Bagmalbhai was his philanthropic initiatives which included projects for rural development, setting up education and medical institutions, various relief activities at times of natural calamities and towards the preservation of Jain heritage.

Bagmalbhai passed away in Mumbai on August 5, 1995, but his legacy will live on for time immemorial.

To read more about Manjula Bagmal Parikh Trust click here...




Padmashree F. T. Khorakiwala

Shaikh Fakhruddin Shaikh Taherbhai Khorakiwala (b 1918) a native of Palanpur, studied in Mumbai, and graduated from the Government Law College in 1941. Mr. Khorakiwala is one of the two (other being Dr.Prakash Nanalal Kothari) Palanpuris to have been awarded the civilian title of Padmashree by Government of India.

Mr. Khorakiwala is the Chairman of the Akbarally Group of Companies, which has department stores set up in 1897. He also serves as the Chairman Emeritus of Wockhardt Ltd. He is also the Chancellor of the Jamia Milia University in New Delhi, and a government nominee on the Board of the Law College.

He has been President of various institutes and organizations like Indian Merchants Chambers (1995-96), The Associated Chambers of Commerce, the Indo-Swiss Society, Saifee Hospital, Council for Fair Business Practices etc.

Mr. Khorakiwala was also the Sheriff of Mumbai in 1993, and was instrumental in setting up Mohalla Committees, which have played an important role in maintaining communal harmony in the city. As President of the Citizens Council for a Better Tomorrow, he organized the Ekta Raksha Bandhan Din (Hands of Harmony Across India) in 500 district towns.

He is also the Founder and President of the Indo-Arab Society and has been conferred the title of NDI by His Holiness Syedna Dr. Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb (TUS). He is a Member of the Advisory Council of “Population First”, and received the Maharashtra State Vanshree Award in 2003 from the Social Forestry Department. He is also associated with many other organizations in various fields.

Mr. Khorakiwala passed away on July 5, 2011 in Mumbai.

Gautam S. Adani


Gautam S. Adani
Gautam S. Adani was born on June 24, 1962 in Ahmedabad where his parents Shantilal and Shantaben Adani, who hail from the town of Tharad in North Gujarat, had settled some years earlier.

He is the Chairman of the Adani Group with interests in edible oils, power and infrastructure and ranks No. 10 on the list of richest Indians compiled by Forbes in late 2008 with a net worth of $ 3.9 bn.

After completing high school at the Seth C.N. Vidyalaya in Ahmedabad, Mr. Adani enrolled for B.Com at the Gujarat University but dropped out during the second year and relocated to Mumbai at the age of 18, starting his career as a diamond sorter with Mahendra Brothers. Two years later he set up his own company for trading in diamonds, and in the early 1980s moved back to Ahmedabad to manage a plastics unit for his elder brother.

Soon Mr. Adani began import of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a key raw material for manufacturing plastics, under his own company, Adani Exports, and boosted by policy reforms leading to liberalization of trade became one of the largest players in the sector.

The company was listed in 1994 and diversified into the infrastructure sector in 1998 by setting up the Mundra Port, among the first private sector ports in India. By 2007, the company had also a multi sector SEZ spread over 100 sq km in the vicinity and listed as Mundra Port and SEZ (MPSEZ) after merging the port and SEZ into a single entity.

Besides these, the Adani Group also has businesses in edible oil, coal trading/mining, power, oil and gas exploration, export-import of pulses and fruits. It has a number of achievements to its credit including Mumbai’s largest deal of 8-10 acres of land in Bandra-Kurla worth over Rs 2,000 crore, setting up of the world’s largest coal receiving terminal at Mundra for Tata Power and being the largest importer of ferrous scrap in India. It has also acquired interests in coal projects in Indonesia and for exploration for oil and gas in Thailand.

Mr. Adani is also known for his philanthropy, particularly the relief work during the earthquake which struck Bhuj in 2001, the religious pilgrimage to Samet Shikhar along with over 2000 people from his native village, and his charitable school project in Ahmedabad.

Mr. Adani lives in Ahmedabad along with his wife Priti, who is a dentist and head of the Adani Foundation. They have two sons, Karan, who is studying in the USA and Jeet.

Habil Khorakiwala

Habil Khorakiwala, son of Fakruddin T. Khorakiwala (originally from Palanpur) is the Chairman of Wockhardt Ltd. one of the leading pharmaceutical and health care companies in India. He was elected as Chairman of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) for 2007-08. This is the first time that any Palanpuri has reached such an important position in a premier industry organization.

Mr. Khorakiwala completed his Masters in Pharmaceutical Science from the Purdue University, USA and the Advanced Management Programme from Harvard Business School, USA.

Earlier he was also the President of FICCI, President of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, the organization of research based pharmaceutical companies in India, and a panel member of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, a high level think tank set up by the Government of India.

Mr. Khorakiwala has also received a number of awards and accolades. Among them are the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Healthcare and Life Sciences in 2004; the Giants 2003 Award for outstanding contribution to business and industry; Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Medical Integration Council in 2003; award for ‘Excellence as Top CEO” for the year 2002 from the Institute of Marketing & Management (IMM), New Delhi at the 29th World Marketing Congress; Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indian Analytical Instruments Association (ANACON) for ‘Contributions in Research and Industry’; Shiromani Vikas Award for ‘Outstanding and Inspiring Contribution to National Development’ in 1992 at the hands of Mother Teresa and Lifetime Achievement Award from Express Pharma.

Mr. Khorakiwala has been a Non-Official Director on the Board of Directors of Union Bank of India and is a Member of the Board of Governors, Centre for Organisation Development at Hyderabad

Mr. Khorakiwala lives in Mumbai.

Kantilal Chhotalal Mehta (1921-1993)

Kantilal Chhotalal Mehta, popularly known as ‘Kanubhai’ was born in Calcutta in 1921. He completed his primary and secondary education in Palanpur. He performed brilliantly throughout his educational career.

Mr. Mehta showed a keen interest in social service and literature since his childhood and nurtured the ambition of becoming a doctor. But destiny took him towards diamonds and jewellery.

In 1941, at the age of 20, Mr. Mehta came to Mumbai to do trading in diamonds. He established the firm M/s Kantilal Chhotalal and began his business. His ability and skill brought him success within few years, and the business branched out and flourished in the country and abroad.

 

Mr. Mehta took the initiative to establish the Palanpur Samaj Kendra, a step that won him great appreciation among the members of the community as it was a major contribution towards bringing together all Palanpuri Jain and other communities in Mumbai. He introduced several social reforms among the community members, and helped develop pride in the feeling of being ‘Palanpuri.’

A multi-faceted personality, he had a thirst for knowledge and was fond of reading, building a large and valuable library at home. He was proud of being a Gujarati and treasured books in that language. He was very close to many poets and other literary personalities.

As a businessman and an alert citizen, Mr. Mehta had deep knowledge of laws and regulations regarding income tax, customs, banking, insurance etc. and was so well known for his knowledge of different subjects that senior officials of concerned departments often came to him for advice in their own fields. He was appointed as a member on the Dhahotre Committee appointed by Reserve Bank of India to study finance related issues for the diamond trade, He had deep intricate knowledge of the diamond trade and as an expert wrote two books, ‘Diamond Export Business' and ‘Diamonds from India'. Mr. Mehta was always ready to extend a helping hand to all needy Palanpuris, without discrimination of caste or creed, whether it was for medical or educational purposes, or due to family circumstances. His favorite area of philanthropy was education and he established the Shree Palanpur Shishushala Balmandir and Education Trust (now called Vidyamandir Trust) in Palanpur in 1948. This was a significant development, because Vidyamandir went on to play a very important role in the educational and cultural development of Banaskantha District.

His compassion can be seen in the establishment of Mamata Mandir, an institution for the education of differently abled children. The institution provides a range of facilities from education to rehabilitation, and strives to make these children self sufficient.

Mr. Mehta passed away on January 24, 1993 in Mumbai.

Kirtibhai Kalidas Doshi

Kirtibhai Kalidas Doshi was born on October 12, 1922 in Palanpur, and graduated with Honours in Commerce from Mumbai University. He discontinued his higher studies in Economics and Law from 1942 - 47 to participate in the Independence Struggle.

Mr. Doshi is one of the pioneers of the diamond and coloured gemstone trade in India, and laid the foundation for Shrenuj & Co, which is among the leading manufacturuer-exporters of diamonds and jewellery from India. Mr. Doshi was among the first Indians to travel across the world in an effort to expand the trade and was one of the pioneers in cutting and polishing gemstones within the country. His company was also the first to introduce modern high tech laser technology to the diamond cutting industry.

Mr. Doshi has also been closely associated with a number of public service charity trusts and educational institutions. He has been the Chairman of The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, Chairman of the Trust Board of the Mahavir Jain Vidyalaya, a 90 year old educational institution, and the President of the Gemmological Institute of India.

In 1992, he was presented with an Eminent Personalities Award by the International Colored Gemstone Association.

Kirtilal Manilal Mehta (1907-1993)

Kirtilal Manilal Mehta (1907-1993) was born in Palanpur on February 7, 1907. He lost his father when he was just 12, and soon joined the family business in Rangoon, Burma. After working with his uncle for a few years, Mehta set up an independent business in Mumbai under the name Kirtilal Manilal Mehta.

Seeing the potential in the export of diamonds, he pioneered the entry of the Indian community into Antwerp, where he settled with his wife Lilavati in 1953 and founded the well known firm Gembel NV. By 1956, he had set up business operations in Hong Kong, and in 1968 and 1973 established Gembel in Tel Aviv, Israel and Occidental Gem Inc in New York, thus developing a network across all the major diamond centres of the world.

 


Mr. Mehta being decorated
by the King of Belgium
Mr. Mehta received a number of honours including an Award in 1977 for being a Leading Exporter from the Government of India, and a ‘Outstanding Exporter’s Award’ from the President of Israel in 1973.

Mr. Mehta was the first ever Indian to be decorated "Officer of the Order of Leopold" by His Majesty the King of Belgium. He was also honoured by the Nawab of Palanpur.

 

Mr. Mehta was instrumental in setting up the 300-bed Lilavati Kirtilal Mehta Hospital & Medical Research Center in Mumbai, and the Lilavati Hospital in Palanpur. He also contributed handsomely to the Vidyamandir Trust to start an English Medium school in Palanpur and was associated with the Mahajan Hospital in Palanpur.

He passed away on July 20, 1993 in Antwerp, Belgium

Mafatlal Mohanlal Mehta (1917-2005)

Mafatlal Mohanlal Mehta (1917-2005) or Mafatkaka, as he was more affectionately known by his close friends and associates, was born in Mumbai on September 27, 1917.

He began his formal education at the Fellowship High School, but had to give up studies to join the family firm, Mohanlal Raichand and Sons at an early age.

In 1956 he started his own independent business in the name of Jitendra Diamonds (later Samir Diamonds), and moved to Antwerp where he set up Jayam BVBA in 1960. By 1975, he opened an office in New York in the name of Paras Diamonds, and went on to establish a network of offices in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Singapore and many other places.

A meeting with Mahasati Ujjwalakumariji in 1955 and his later association with Mother Teresa and others made his life take a new direction, and he began to work for the upliftment of the poor, downtrodden and needy. He donated generously to institutions and organizations working for such causes, without any differentiation on caste, creed, religion or race through a Trust set up in memory of his late mother, Smt Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta.

Mr. Mehta was actively associated with Mother Teresa for over 30 years. Mother even took him with her to London to attend an awards function for Progress in Religion. This inspired Mafatkaka to present such awards in Mumbai in memory of his mother.

Diwaliben Mohanalal Charitable Trust contributed for an orphanage known as Ma Niketan in Thane. It also built Smt. Kamala Mehta Dadar School for the Blind and Smt. Kamala Mehta Andh Kanya Chhatralaya at Pune.

Mr. Mehta passed away on September 12, 2005 in Mumbai.

Shantilal Ghelabhai Jhaveri (1917-1991)

Shantilal Ghelabhai Jhaveri, who was known popularly as S.G. Jhaveri, was the second generation of the family to enter the diamond business. After joining the family business, he became a popular figure in the trade.

A nationalist to the core and a visionary at heart, he was a persistent champion of the issues of the trade, and was well known for his independent outlook and outspokenness. In 1957, he was made Secretary to the First All India Jewellers' Convention.

In 1964, Mr. Jhaveri founded a new company, London Star Diamond Co. (India) Pvt. Ltd., which was one of the first Pvt Ltd companies in the diamond trade, with foreign collaboration.

He was instrumental in arranging supply of rough diamonds from Star Diamond Group to MMTC for sale in India to local manufacturers, during the period of canalization of import of rough diamonds.

Mr. Jhaveri was twice elected as Chairman of The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council. He was also President of Diamond Exporters' Association for over a decade. He was Vice President of Bharat Diamond Bourse since its inception and was instrumental in establishing the present Customs Clearance Center at Diamond Plaza, Lamington Road, Mumbai.

His most noteworthy contribution is the Multi-Rate Import Replenishment Scheme, which was in existence from 1972 to 2001 and was a crucial force in driving the stupendous growth in the export of polished diamonds. He was the leader of the first ever Technical Delegation sponsored by The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council in 1974.

In 1986, the Indian Diamond and Colorstone Association Inc., New York bestowed one of its highest honours on Mr. Jhaveri in appreciation of his all round services and special contribution to the promotion of Indian cut diamonds in the USA.

Mr. Jhaveri was one of the first to moot the setting up a diamond bourse in India way back in 1976. He along with Mr. Ratilal B. Jasani and others came together to form the “Shukramani Bhavan” for this purpose. He had worked for setting up the Bourse for a number of years till his demise in January 1991. It was his efforts and far sightedness that finally resulted in the formation of the Bharat Diamond Bourse in 1984 and the allocation of land at Bandra Kurla for the project.

Mr. Jhaveri passed away in 1991.

Surajmal Lallubhai Mehta (1880-1932)

Surajmal Lallubhai is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of the diamond business in India, and was one of the first Palanpuris to set up a diamond firm in Mumbai.

He arrived in the city of Mumbai at the tender age of 15, and by 1895 established his own jewellery firm by the name Surajmal Lallubhai & Co.

Due to his special qualities and dedication, the firm progressed very rapidly. Over time, Surajmalbhai opened branches in Mumbai, Rangoon, Kolkata and Chennai, and later even spread his business dealings to Antwerp. So revered was he for his determination, hard work, adherence to truth and honesty and other values that he was popularly known as “Alla” (meaning God).


He was not merely focused on his own progress, but was equally concerned about helping the youth from his home town. He used to provide them with free food and shelter as well as help them to find work suited to each individual’s ability. Slowly the youth from Palanpur started establishing themselves in Zaveri Bazaar in Mumbai. Through his patronage, nearly 200 to 300 Palanpuri youth set up their own businesses, and provided the base from which the community grew to become the drivers of India’s leading position in the world’s diamond markets today. Present day diamantaires are indebted to him.

Though Surajmalbhai settled in Mumbai, he never lost contact with Palanpur, and made it a practice to spend 30 days every year in his home town. He was the pioneer in establishing the Zaveri Mangalji Vamalshi Hospital, Palanpur Female Hospital, Shree Jain Shisushala (children’s school), Vyayamshala (gymnasium) and many other charitable institutions in Palanpur.

 

Despite his wealth and business success, Surajmalbhai was a staunchly religious, simple and straight forward person, who observed regular ‘maun’ in the first half of the day, spent three hours on business dealings, and then devoted time for religious study and social work.

He was also a linguist, well versed in six languages and had a personal library which had a huge collection of rare and precious books in English, French, Sanskrit, Burmese and Persian.

Uttamchand N. Mehta (1924-1998)

Uttamchand. N. Mehta (1924-1998) was born in Mahemadpur, a small village in Banaskantha on January 14, 1924, and after finishing his primary education in Palanpur, moved to Mumbai, where he completed his B.Sc. from Wilson College, while staying at the Mahavir Jain Vidyalay hostel.

Starting his career as a government servant in 1944, Mr. Mehta worked as a Medical Representative with the drug MNC, Sandoz from 1945 to 1958.

Then in 1959 he took the path breaking decision to start his own firm Trinity Laboratories with a seed capital of just Rs 25,000. This organization began to manufacture special medicines. In 1968, Mr. Mehta began to market a medicine for treatment of mental diseases at a very reasonable price.

It was a big step at a time when only multinational companies manufactured specialty drugs, and subsequently Mr. Mehta went on to establish Torrent Laboratories in 1976. The company began marketing a number of useful drugs at very competitive prices and soon made a name for itself.

Today, Torrent is a large company engaged in the business of pharmaceutical goods and power generation.

In 1996-97, Mr. Mehta received the “Businessman of the Year” award from the Government of India. Torrent has also won many awards for excellence in manufacturing, exporting and marketing.

Mr. Mehta also contributed generously to social, educational and charitable institutions and causes.

Mr. Mehta passed away in 1998 at Ahmedabad.

Business/ Social

  • Dinesh Mody
  • Dr. Ajay P. Kothari
  • Dr. Mukundbhai H. Joshi
  • Dr. P. V. Mehta
  • Dr. Prakash N. Kothari
  • Dr. Prof. Rohit J. Parikh
  • Prakash H. Shah
Dinesh Mody, MA, LLB (Advocate, Supreme Court)

After completing his MA and LLB, Dinesh Mody entered the legal field in 1953. He has since established himself as a prominent Supreme Court lawyer and Notary Public. He specializes in Corporate Law and Foreign Exchange Law, and is also a Legal Adviser, Financial Adviser and Investment Consultant to several leading companies and organizations all over the world.


Earlier in his career, Mr. Mody was a professor and examiner in Law, as well as a Member of the Board of Studies and Faculty of Law at Bombay University. He was appointed by the President of India as a Member of the Delhi University Court, and has also been an examiner in Law at Shivaji University.



The Dinesh Mody Numismatic Museum

Besides being a Director of several companies, he is also the Founder Chairman of M/s Alkesh Dinesh Mody & Co, ADM Complete Investment Services Pvt Ltd, Dinils Adhesives Pvt Ltd, B. Arunkumar International and others.
Mr. Mody is also a member of the Sri Aurobindo Centenary Celebration Committee appointed by the Government of Maharashtra, and Founder Chairman of the Federation of Jain Adhyatma Study Circles.

He is the author of several books on investments and also on Jain philosophy. Besides this, he is a regular writer on law and legal affairs, finance and investment, religion and philosophy and numismatics in leading Indian newspapers. Mr. Mody has also been the Editor of Adhyatma Vigyan, a magazine on Jain religion, and has given lectures on Jainology to various Jain centres in different cities in USA. He has been the Guest of Honour at the biennial convention of the Federation of Jain Centres in America.



A book authored by Dinesh Mody
Mr. Mody is also a well known numismatist in India and recently gave a donation to the University of Mumbai to set up a numismatic museum in Kalina, Mumbai.
Mr. Mody lives in Mumbai.

Dr. Ajay P. Kothari

Dr. Ajay P. Kothari is a well known US based aerospace engineer and researcher and today heads companies set up by him as President & CEO, Astrox Corporation, USA and President, xSIDE USA, both of which work at the frontiers of aeronautical and space related technological development and research.

Dr Kothari was born November 22, 1949 in Dhanera, Gujarat and completed his schooling at the Vividhlaxi Vidyamandir, Palanpur with an outstanding record, standing 2nd in Banaskantha Dist, and 31st in Gujarat in the SSC exam in 1966. He was President of the school in 1964-65, in addition to being class president through all 11 years of school. He was selected as "The Best Student of School" for excellence in academics as well as extracurricular activities in 1962.

  


Prototype design of
Vertical Take Off plane
After finishing his BSc in Physics from the University of Mumbai in 1971, during which time he was awarded the National Merit Scholarship from the Government of India, Dr. Kothari went abroad for higher studies. He completed his MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland, USA in 1975 and 1979 respectively. He was President of Indian Students Association of University of Maryland for the year 1975-76.

Dr. Kothari entered the industry and was Senior Development Engineer in High Energy Laser Group at Bell Aerospace, Textron, from 1979 to 1981 before moving back to the Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland where he was Assistant Research Engineer working on projects for NASA, US military and various aerospace majors from 1982 to 1990.

Recognition of his achievements have come in myriad ways – he was elected Vice-Chairman of US-Indian Scientists Organization, Washington D.C. Metropolitan area, 1985-87; his name was listed in the Who’s Who’s publications in the early 1990s; he was conferred “ASEI-NCC Emerging Technologist Award” by ASEI, 1997, and in 2007 he was given the Pride of India award by the Non Resident Institute, Washington DC.

Most recently, Dr. Kothari has been working on a project that could revolutionize the parameters of air travel – hypersonic space travel that could cut travel times from New York to Mumbai to as little as one hour! Under his leadership, Astrox has already created a prototype design for such a plane, which takes off vertically, and recently, along with researchers at the University of Maryland came up with a solution to a problem that had vexed scientists till now – how to mix fuel in an engine that generates power required to drive hypersonic engines. The breakthrough, an inward turning scamjet engine, has the potential to change the way the world flies.

Dr. Kothari lives and works in the USA.
Dr. Mukundbhai Harikrishna Joshi (1905-2008)

A noted Gandhian and well known social worker, Dr. Mukundbhai Joshi was born in Bhuj in the district of Kutch in Gujarat on August 3, 1905. His father, a doctor by profession, was posted at Palanpur Hospital in the erstwhile Palanpur State and Mukundbhai had his early education and completed his Matriculation from there. Subsequently he joined B.J. Medical College at Ahmedabad.
Dr. Mukundbhai was influenced by Gandhian ideology, and in 1926, shortly after his marriage to Manoramaben, actively joined the Gandhian movement and devoted his services to the nation.

In 1936, he began his own medical practice in Palanpur, but four years later moved to Mumbai to study Ophthalmology. In Mumbai, in addition to starting his own dispensary at Kalbadevi, Mukundbhai also did honorary service in various hospitals.



Shri Mukundbhai Joshi being honoured by Palanpur Samaj Kendra on completion of 100 years


In 1938, he became the member of the Seva Sangh (Congress Social Service Wing). As a prominent member of this association, he along with others began offering adult education in backward areas, aided in the digging of wells and opened children’s libraries in Palanpur State. He was at the forefront of organizing an Eye Camp at Palanpur in 1939, along with late Manshuklal Chimanlal Mehta, who provided financial support.

he 70s, Dr. Mukundbhai led the Palanpur Samaj Kendra and served as its president. Under his tenure regular Eye camps were conducted. He was felicitated by the Palanpur Samaj Kendra in appreciation of his social work and on completion of 100 years.

Dr. Mukundbhai died on 22nd March, 2008.

Dr. Pravin Vrajlal Mehta, MD (1934-2005)

Dr. Pravin V. Mehta is a renowned name in the field of medicine in India and one of the pioneers of the Family Planning movement in the country. It is he who introduced the concept of mass vasectomy and mass laparoscopy sterilization camps to urban and rural India.

Dr. Mehta was born on August 15, 1934 in Calcutta and completed his MBBS from Grant Medical College, Mumbai in 1960. He also obtained a MD degree in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Mumbai University in 1964 and DGO from College of Physicians and Surgeons, India.

In 1966 he set up his own private Mother Child Hospital in Mumbai, and in 1967 shot into public limelight when he initiated the mass vasectomy programme on a railway platform in Mumbai. The project was filmed for international TV and his success in conducting more than 5000 operations in Mumbai won him an award from The Implementation Committee of the Family Planning Programme of Greater Bombay, then headed by Dr. D. N. Pai.

After that, his work in the medical field focused largely in the area of family planning and mother-child care. Besides conducting camps, Dr Mehta organized extensive orientation courses for paramedical workers, and in 1974, following a visit to the John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, USA for advanced training in cytology, he held the first of his many rural sterilization camps on a voluntary and charitable basis. After five years in the field, the Gujarat Government adopted his method of “no exposure” for rural women and organized more camps across the state, and after 1980, he held sterilization and training camps for doctors, nurses and health workers in many different parts of the country. Besides his outstanding achievements in the field, Dr Mehta also holds the world record for Most Laparoscopic Female Sterilisations (4,60,000).

Dr. Mehta received the Dr. B C Roy National Award from then President Zail Singh in 1983. He also received the Giants International Award 1993, FICCI Award 1994, Indian Merchants’ Chamber award for outstanding contribution in the field of family planning in 1994; Dhanvantri Award in 1997 and Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta award in 1999. Guinness Book of World Records included his name as “Most Prolific Laparoscopic Surgeon for performing 4,60,000 operations in 1998”.

Dr. Mehta set up the Dr. Kumud Pravin Mehta Charitable Trust in 1990. The Trust has been active in tribal areas of Dharampur, Dang and Valsad in Gujarat. It set up a Paediatric Nephrology department and Gynaecological Endoscopic department at Wadia Hospital, Mumbai.

Dr. Mehta passed away in 2005 in Mumbai.

Padmashree Dr Prakash Nanalal Kothari MBBS, PhD, ACST (USA)

Dr. Prakash Kothari is a professor & Head of Department of Sexual Medicine at the Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M Hospital, Mumbai.

Having completed his MBBS from the same institution of Mumbai University in 1970, Dr. Kothari became a Certified Sex Therapist from the American Association of Sex Educators, Counsellors and Therapists in 1977, and was awarded PhD from Mumbai University in 1981.

He is a pioneer in this field in India and is also the Founder President of the Indian Association of Sex Educators, Counsellors and Therapists (IASECT). He presided over the 7th World Congress of Sexology in 1985, the 1st International Congress on Orgasm in 1991 and the 1st Asia Pacific Conference on Sexology in 2004.

Dr. Kothari has written numerous articles and books on sex related themes, both for professionals and the layman, some of which have provided fresh insights and major breakthroughs in the understanding of the field. He is the Editor of IASECT’s Journal of Research in Sexology, and Consulting Editor / Member of the Advisory Board on a number of other international journals. Besides this, he has made presentations and given lectures at numerous national and international conferences.

Dr. Kothari has won many national and international awards including the IASECT and Dr R.H. Dastur Gold Medal for Best Research in the field of Sexual Medicine, the first Award for Leadership and Contribution in the field of Sexology by the International Council of Sex Education and Parenthood, USA, ‘Man of the Year’ in the field of Sexology by the World Association of Sexology (WAS) at its 9th Congress in 1989 and ‘The World Association of Sexology (WAS) Gold Medal’ in 1997 for outstanding contributions and achievements in the field. He was awarded ‘Padmashree’ by the President of India in 2002 for his pioneering work in the field of Sexual Medicine.

Dr. Kothari lives in Mumbai.

Rohit Jivanlal Parikh

Dr. Rohit Jivanlal Parikh is a brilliant world renowned academic and an outstanding mathematician, logician and philosopher presently working as a Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science, Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY).

Born on November 20, 1936 in Palanpur, Dr. Parikh won the Gibbs Prize for Physics from Mumbai University in the Inter Science examination in 1954, and then did his M.S. from Harvard University in 1957, which he completed with the highest honours in Physics. He was honoured with the William Lowell Putnam Fellow as well as the rare President’s award for extraordinary performance in 1957. He was selected as a Fellow of the University and in 1962 completed his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard as well. He also won the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition Prize in 1955, 1956 and 1957.

Dr. Parikh’s favourite subject is Mathematical Logic and his achievements in the field have brought him honours from the three premier societies for mathematics which only admit exceptionally talented scholars viz. the Symbolic Logic Society; the Sigma IX Society and Phi Beta Kappa.

During his illustrious career some of the prominent positions held and honours received by Dr. Parikh include – Visiting Professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), 1979; Visiting Scientist, MIT Lab for Computer Science 1979-82; CUNY Distinguished Professor, Dept of Computer Science, Brooklyn College and Ph.D. programmes in Maths and Computer Science at CUNY Graduate Centre.

Dr. Parikh is currently doing research in Reasoning about Knowledge, Belief Revision, Game Theory, and Philosophy of Language. He lives in the USA.

Prakash Shah

Prakash Shah was a senior member of the Indian Foreign Service and has held various positions of responsibility as a representative of the Indian government. He later moved on to become the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq.

During his three decades as an Indian diplomat, he developed wide experience and expertise on a spectrum of political, economic, and particularly petroleum issues.

Mr. Shah has been India’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Japan. He was India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nation and then Under Secretary of the U.N. He also served the Indian Government in various capacities such as Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary in Foreign Services and as an advisor to the Prime Minister.



Mr. Prakash Shah, then UN Under Secretary seen with Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali then UN Secretary General
Mr. Shah is also an independent consultant who serves on a number of boards, including Khandwala Securities Bombay, Symbiosis International Education Society, and Indo-American Arts Council.

He is a member of the Board of International Advisors of Sloan Global Consultants, Washington, DC; UPS Corporate Division, Washington, DC; and Dodsal Group, United Arab Emirates. Mr. Shah lives in Mumbai now.


Professional

  • Dinesh/Mahesh Bhansali
  • Nathalal D. Parikh
Dineshbhai K. Bhansali (1934-2002) / Maheshbhai K. Bhansali

Dineshbhai K. Bhansali
Dineshbhai K. Bhansali (1934-2002) / Maheshbhai K Bhansali

Dineshbhai Kirtilal Bhansali was born in 1934 and was actively involved from a young age in different activities for the larger good of the community on both the business and social front. He was the founder of the Bhansali Trust.

From the time he entered the business in 1950, Dineshbhai always put aside a fixed percentage of his income for associations involved in social work and other causes, and was himself closely associated with their activities as well. This concern led him to set up the Bhansali Trust in 1968, and he played a key role in developing and expanding the activities of the body for over three decades after that.

Throughout his life he was fully committed to serve the interests of the poorer and needy sections of society. He was involved with a number of educational institutions, religious and industrial organizations, and worked closely with relief funds and charitable trusts on various projects.

For a period of 16 years from 1974 to 1990, Dineshbhai also worked tirelessly for the development of the diamond industry in Mumbai in his capacity as the President of the Mumbai Diamond Merchants Association (MDMA). He was instrumental in helping the association acquire and develop its present office in Panchratna building in the heart of Mumbai’s diamond business district, even providing his own funds (the amount was later repaid) to pay for the property which was bought in the name of the association.

He was a frank, fearless and outspoken leader, and would be willing to face government authorities at both the state and the central level, relentlessly putting forward the legitimate demands of the industry until they were accepted, an endeavour in which he always received wholehearted co-operation from the industry.

Maheshbhai Kirtilal
Maheshbhai Kirtilal Bhansali was born on March 10, 1942, and has devoted a large part of his life to dedicated social work, even opting to remain a bachelor, so as not to divert focus from his principal passion and his work with the Bhansali Trust.

Despite having studied electrical and mechanical engineering, Maheshbhai plunged into social service during the dreaded Bihar famine of 1967, where he worked continuously for six months. It was the beginning of a life of dedication, and over the next few decades, whether it was the flood havoc in Morvi, the hurricane that devastated Andhra Pradesh, the cyclone in Bihar, the earthquake in Kutch or the floods in Surat, Maheshbhai always rushed to the site of the tragedy where his team of dedicated social workers carried out relief activity under his direct guidance.

Another noteworthy campaign in which he took a leading role was the relief work among refugees of the Indo-Pak Bangladesh War, which he organized along with the Bombay Diamond Merchants Association and Palanpur Samaj Kendra.

Ever since then he has been a fully committed social worker, playing a leading role in organizing and co-ordinating the activities of the Bhansali Trust as a grassroots level field leader.

The Bhansali Trust is today one of the largest of the trusts set up by the diamond industry with a staff of 661 full time and 1724 part time workers. Its activities cover a wide range of projects in different parts of the country and varied fields.

Dineshbhai passed away in 2002 in Mumbai and Maheshbhai is actively involved in social work in Gujarat and Bihar.

Nathalal Dahyalal Parikh (1903-1957)

Nathalal Dahyalal Parikh was born in an eminent family of diamond merchants on January 7, 1903. After completing his matriculation, he joined the family business.

He joined the Congress during the mass movements of 1920-23, and became a leader of the Zaveri Bazar Volunteer Wing at the age of 18. He boycotted foreign goods and organized picketing near wine shops.

In 1927, he went abroad to further develop the family business, travelling to various countries over three years. He was elected President of the Diamonds Merchants’ Association in 1931-32 at the young age of 28.

When Vithalbhai Patel, fell sick in Switzerland in 1933, Nathalalbhai rushed there to help him, never hesitating to consider whether it would impact his own business. Nathalalbhai organised the best of treatment for him, but unfortunately, Vithalbhai did not survive. While in Switzerland, Nathalalbhai met Netaji Subhashchandra Bose and both of them became fast friends. He was actively associated with Azad Hind Fauz of Netaji.

He was very active in helping the police maintain peace during the riots that broke out soon after Independence. In recognition of his social service, the Government honoured him with the title of J.P. (Justice of Peace), a very coveted and respectful title in those days.

In 1950-51, he was elected as Municipal Corporator from Bori Bunder Constituency. He was associated with about 100 organizations of the Fort area and was appointed Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Municipality. He was also elected as an MLA from Fort and Colaba constituency in 1952. During his stint as an MLA, he did a lot of work for the welfare of Dalits.

He was actively involved in the establishment of Bhrihad Bhartiya Samaj, along with late Mr. S K Patil, a towering personality of the Congress and late Sheth Nanji Kalidas. He visited Africa and raised a huge sum of Rs 5 lakhs for providing facilities to visiting NRIs.

In 1957, he once again became the President of the Diamond Merchants’ Association. He was also an active member of Jain Shwetambar Conference.

He died on February 15, 1957 in Mumbai.

In recognition of his contribution to society at large, one prominent road in Colaba area of Mumbai is named after him as Nathalal Parikh Marg.

Social Work

  • Kantibhai T. Mehta
  • Pitamber Hathibhai Mehta
  • Prof. Rajni Kothari
  • R. J. Mehta
Kantibhai Thakorlal Mehta (1920-2007)

Kantibhai Thakorlal Mehta (1920-2007) won national and international recognition in a not so common field – as a labour leader, who spent a large part of his life organizing the workers in the coal mines of Bihar.

Born into a rich family in 1920, Mr. Mehta had his early education in Palanpur, and later went on to complete his education from St Paul’s Public School, Darjeeling and St Xavier’s College, Kolkata. During his college days, he came in touch with the Gandhian movement, and was influenced by leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Kakasaheb Kalelkar and Vinoba Bhave. His thoughts and ideas took further shape after he spent a year and a half at the Sewagram Ashram in Wardha.

  

During the 1942 Quit India movement Mr. Mehta was sent to Bombay jail and seriously injured in a lathi charge during one of the protests. But this did not deter him, and from 1943-46 he began organizing the Port & Dock and Textile workers in Kolkata. He joined the Indian National Trade Union Congress in Mumbai in 1948, and shifted to Dhanbad the next year, where he was instrumental in the formation of the Indian National Mineworker’s Federation (INMF). He later held the senior posts of General Secretary and President in this body. Under his leadership, the INMF succeeded in getting a historic Tribunal Award for equal wages to men and women for equal work.

After a long stint at the grassroots level, Mr. Mehta also got involved at the national and international level in the trade union movement. He was a member of the All-India Executive Committee of INTUC for over two decades, and also served as its Vice President. Similarly he was the VP of the Asian Chapter of the Miners International Federation and a Member of the Governing Body of the Geneva based International Labour Organisation, and VP of the ILO Conference in 1974.

During his long career, Mr. Mehta was also associated with a number of Wage Boards and Tripartite Boards. He has also been on the Board of Directors of NMDC, MMTC, SAIL, Coal Mines Authority Ltd, FCI and other government corporations.

Mr. Mehta passed away on October 20, 2007 in Puri, Orissa.

Pitamber Hathibhai Mehta (1838-1922)

Pitamber Hathibhai Mehta was one of the most prominent and renowned names in the history of Palanpur during the last century.

He served as Diwan of Nawab Sher Mohammed Khan and developed a great reputation for his diplomacy and intelligence. He is recognized not only as an extraordinary statesman, but also an eminent social reformer, sober in his tastes and simple, benevolent and sympathetic to ordinary people.

The role of Diwan was a difficult one, and many of those who occupied the seat lasted for a very short time in the position. Pitamberbhai, however, was extremely successful and remained in the position for a long period. He was a wise, intelligent and sharp state official, with good foresight and encouraged transparency in dealings.

His sharp political and administrative acumen was evident on several occasions, and his decisions in complex situations were widely appreciated. One such occasion was when he released all prisoners of the British Agency during Nawaab Sher Mohammed Khan’s coronation, incurring the displeasure of the British government. Yet he managed to solve the imbroglio in his intelligent way, and reduce the displeasure of the British authorities.



Vyayamshala which was built in his memory in Palanpur

During the VS 1956 famine, better known as ‘Chhappaniya dukaal’ in Gujarati, the Nawab planned to build a palace in Rajgadhi. Pitamberbhai advised the Nawab to abandon this plan as it was not appropriate to build a luxurious palace when people of the state were suffering from scarcity. He also regained possession of the land at Tekara village near Deesa from the British Agency.

Pitamberbhai’s initiative led to the construction of the first Maternity home and Female Hospital in Palanpur after he saw a woman dying due to lack of proper facilities and space for treatment for pregnant women. He was also instrumental in establishing a dharmshala for the people coming to the city for treatment of different ailments. All these facilities were made possible with the initiative and help of the State, the Nawab.

He was instrumental in many social reforms within the Jain community. For example, he brought an end to the custom of having a public feast after a person’s death, curbed excessive displays of sorrow and other traumatic forms of mourning death, and helped reduce unnecessary expenses on lavish displays at the time of marriages.

Pitamberbhai was a Mahajan in every sense, helping the poor and supporting needy families in times of need. He distributed blankets to people sleeping on streets during winter. He also took various steps to encourage students to pursue higher studies and boost education for women, and established the first private school in Palanpur with the help of philanthropists -- a school for Sthanakvasi girls – also providing those who needed it with scholarships and even in the 19th century he ensured that his three sons completed their higher studies.

Pitamberbhai believed in the principle of simple living and high thinking. He was very fond of meeting and talking to sadhus and saints both due to his thirst for knowledge and for the solace it provided. He believed in social equality as well as Hindu–Muslim unity.

This great personality is fondly remembered even today and a gymnasium (vyayamshala) was built in his memory by the erstwhile Palanpur state and other prominent citizens.

When he died at the age of 84 in 1922, erstwhile state of Palanpur mourned for three days.

Prof. Rajni Kothari

Prof. Rajni Kothari is one of the most well known and respected experts in the field of Political Science, with a vast number of publications to his name. He has also won international recognition, especially for his work on the economic and political problems of developing countries.

Prof. Kothari was born in 1928 and spent his childhood in Burma. Later he completed his education from Public School, Mumbai and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He began taking a deep interest in politics while in college and was actively involved with student and labour issues. He participated in and was jailed during the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny in 1946.

 

Prof. Rajni Kothari with his grandson
From 1954-57, Prof. Kothari studied in the London School of Economics, and later worked as a Professor of Politics in the M.S. University in Vadodara. He was appointed as Assistant Director in the National Institute of Community Development, but in 1963 moved away from the government machinery and set up his own Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, which he headed till 1976.

Subsequently Prof. Kothari was associated with many renowned national and international research bodies in different roles and capacities, and wrote a number of highly appreciated books on Indian politics and related subjects. He was also associated with a number of UN bodies and programmes, including being Special Advisor to the Rector of the United Nations University, author of the conceptual paper on Environment and Development for the UNEP/ESCAP Workshops on Alternative Development Strategies and Lifestyles, and a Consultant to UNESCO on State and Nation Building.

He also held the position of President of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a well respected national level human rights organization.

After 1980, Prof. Kothari was actively associated with a new type of action oriented research through a platform called Lokayan (meaning ‘Dialogue of the People’). Through this body he helped organize interaction between intellectuals and grassroots activists, and help integrate the diverse experiences they had gained at the micro-level with the policy debates and political action at the national and international level.

In recognition of his achievements in this field he received the Right Livelihood Award from the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm (widely referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize) on behalf of Lokayan in 1985. He has also received the UGC’s Swami Pranavananda Award in Political Science.

Prof. Kothari lives in Pune now.

Rasikbhai Jivanbhai Mehta (1928-2003)

Rasikbhai Jivanbhai Mehta, or R.J. Mehta as he was more popularly known, was born in a Jain family in Palanpur, but chose a relatively unorthodox profession as his career, that of organizing and leading the labour unions.

In his early days Mr Mehta worked under the guidance of political leaders like Mr. Minoo Masani, Mr. Abed Ali Jafarbhai and Mr. G.G. Mehta. He joined the labour movement in 1945, working with well known Socialist leader Mr Ashok Mehta. He led his first major strike at Richardson Cruddas Ltd in 1947, even as he was appearing for his B.Com exams. Since then he successfully led many labour agitations and became a popular and victorious trade unionist. During Emergency, he spent nine months in jail under MISA.

One of his landmark victories was the strike of the white-collar staff in the head office of Bombay Dyeing Mills which lasted for two and a half years and was ultimately won through the intervention of the Supreme Court.

Another landmark in his career was the strike of the workers of BCL Forgings in Nashik which continued for seven months after which the employers were compelled to reinstate nine dismissed employees who were members of the union committee. When the strike ended, the company did not have working capital to carry out day to day operations. To the pleasant surprise of the workers, Mr Mehta’s union gave a loan of Rs 30 lakhs to the company to resume normal working and in this way came to the rescue of both the employees and the employers.

Similarly, to sustain and to keep up the morale of the workers the union distributed a sum of Rs 1,10,000 to the workers during the 30 month long strike at Bush India Limited, rather than bow down to the employers and accept the defeat.

During his long career as a trade unionist, he was able to make settlements in about two thousand labour disputes. He was also always prepared to help get workers who were terminated or sacked abruptly, reinstated. Some of the well known cases in which he was successful in this were Premier Automobiles in 1958, Cable Corporation in 1978 and in Reliance in 1974.

Among the other innovative steps as a labour leader, Mr Mehta will be remembered for his success in getting the New India Industries to sell the workers the houses provided by the company at a rate well below the prevailing market rate; and his willingness to lend union funds to the employers so that he could carry out labour welfare activity with the interest.

Alongside his trade union activities, Mr Mehta’s union also runs two trusts – one for the benefit of the children of ex-servicemen and to help war widows, and the other known as the Free Trade Union Multipurpose Projects Trust, which has carried out developmental activities in many states across India.

There is virtually no other union which has adopted such a humane approach. These are a few examples of his vision and achievements.

To the credit of Mr Mehta, though he was not a Law graduate, he used to argue and fight cases in courts on behalf of his union, even contesting matters upto the Supreme Court. In this he often faced and argued with eminent jurists like A.K.Sen, Motilal Setalvad, C.K.Daftary, H.R.Gokhale, Venugopal, Pathak, Shanti Bhushan and others.

One other aspect of his personality was his fondness for nature, which led him to have a small terrace garden with over 100 varieties of rose plants in his office building in Nana Chowk in Mumbai, besides birds and dogs of different breeds.

Mr. Mehta passed away in 2003 in Mumbai.

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