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26 Oct 2020
The Oldest Palanpuri, Renowned Jeweller & Philanthropist Jayantibhai T Mehta Passes Away at 103

 Jayantibhai Mehta

Well known businessman Jayantibhai Thakorlal Mehta, probably the oldest member of the Palanpuri Jain community passed away at Kolkata on October 18, 2020 at the age of 103. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Reenaben & Tusharbhai Suraiya, and grandchildren Pranaybhai - Nehaben, Kajalben - Hiteshbhai, Komalben - Samirbhai, Vivekbhai, Vanitaben – Rohanbhai, and his great grandchildren.

Jayantibhai was closely associated with his family’s diamond and jewellery business which was set up by his father in Kolkata under the name Thakorlal Hiralal, but was also one of the relatively small number of Palanpuri Jains who successfully developed ventures in other business sectors viz. textiles and trading.

In his later years, he devoted his time to philanthropy, being closely involved with the setting up and running of the largest dialysis center in Asia at the Manjulaben Mehta Kidney Hospital in Kolkata, under the supervision of Padmashri Dr. Devi Shetty.


 Thakorlal Hiralal showroom in Kolkata

Born in Kolkata on February 19, 1917 (his family had moved there to set up the jewellery business in 1902), Jayantibhai joined the company in the 1930s at a very young age. He played a leading role in establishing Thakorlal Hiralal and steering its rapid growth in post-Independence India. Working closely with members of the extended Mehta family who had set up businesses overseas, the company sourced diamonds in Antwerp and gemstones from Myanmar (then Burma). It soon became the trusted jeweller both to the erstwhile royalty as well as most of the leading newly emerging HNI families across North India – Kolkata, Kanpur, Delhi, Lucknow etc.

In the early 1960s, Jayantibhai ventured into an entirely new line of business, textiles, one of the first from the community to go beyond jewellery, and in partnership with L.N. Jhunjhunwala, set up Bhilwara Textiles, and a couple of associated companies establishing the well-known brand Mayur Suitings. They also bought over the British India Corporation, a trading company in Kanpur and both business ventures expanded rapidly.

Celebrating his 100th birthday

In later years, after moving to an advisory role in the family business, Jayantibhai dedicated himself to setting up and running the Manjulaben Mehta Kidney Hospital, in memory of his wife, which is the largest of its kind in Asia. The hospital is part of a larger medical institution set up in Kolkata by Padmashri Dr Devi Shetty called Rabindranath Tagore Institute of Cardiac Sciences. 

Jayantibhai will also be remembered for his unique philosophy of life. “Bhagwan jeevade em jeevta seekho" summed up his approach to the inevitable ups and downs that everyone faces. He lived life in the fullest sense of the word – an avid swimmer in his younger days, an ardent fan of Indian classical music concerts and a keen card player, he always faced the world with a positive outlook. He also believed that everything should be done in moderation – and assiduously remained restrained in consumption of food as well as in control of his emotions. This disciplined routine and balanced approach of equanimity enabled him to not only complete a century of years, but also live till the venerable age of 103.  



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