Service is such a profound sacred and moral duty that it is not easily accomplished even by yogis. By nature, man is always engrossed in his own well being. But to remain indifferent to one’s own desires and devote oneself to others and feel satisfied that one has used his full capacity for this – such understanding and associated behaviour - is very rare in this world. In reality, such service to others is a form of the moral duty give in the Bhagwat*. The Bhagwat dharma states that ‘Generous men consider the whole world as their own family.’ For them there is no distinction between ‘mine’ and ‘yours.’ The Bhagwat religion advocates and supports unity. A person who sees the whole world in oneself and oneself in the whole world is a true follower of the Bhagwat. It can be said, without any exaggeration that even though Ramjibhai was a Jain, he was a knowledgeable and perfect devotee of the Bhagwat religion. Ramjibhai was generous by nature and he did not have any expectations from his generosity. Evidence of Ramjibhai’s remarkable generosity can be perceived in all his works. In actuality, his attitude of service was a consequence of his religious beliefs. Righteousness had always been inherent in Ramjibhai’s blood from birth. This was because, Ramjibhai’s grandfather, Laxmichandbhai, was so immersed in religion and service that he could be considered a man of God. This righteousness of the grandfather had been inherited by the grandson Ramjibhai. It is not difficult to understand this commendable attitude after seeing Ramjibhai’s works and the way they became so well established.
Dr. Jivraj Mehta wrote about Ramjibhai: “Ramjibhai attained the position of a great industrialist from a very average background through God’s grace and his own efforts, so even when he was at the peak of his success he maintained his humble nature. This virtue of humility had its roots in his generosity and due to this Ramjibhai helped numerous social institutions as well as anybody who approached him with a genuine difficulty.”
He noted further, “Amongst the many facets in Ramjibhai’s life, a quality worth noting was that he would always see to the welfare of those persons he was involved with. Ramjibhai believed that taking care of the welfare of anybody in any position, big or small and their relatives, without any expectations in return, was his duty.
Ramjibhai always gave as much help and encouragement as he possibly could to people who needed it. As a result all the institutions that Ramjibhai had been associated with over the last fifty years, either officially or privately, knew that Ramjibhai would always help if they were in need, and they gave him great respect because of his virtues of generosity and service.”
*Bhagwat : A major Purana, i.e. religious text, in Hinduism
Ramjibhai’s helpful nature was not limited to those persons he was directly involved with. He also saw that the desires of anybody who left his employment were fulfilled. His true nature shone through in the way he solved other people’s difficulties and problems and guided them on the right path. Love for education, kinship with students, respect for the elderly and compassion towards the ill and the poor, all these inspired Ramjibhai to donate freely to institutions in all fields. He gave donations to many educational institutions. The help he gave to individuals was limitless. In case his own friends, companions and society, misunderstood his intentions and attributed his philanthropy to selfish motives Ramjibhai gave many donations anonymously. He gave freely in the spirit of philanthropy and service and felt that there was no need to broadcast his actions; this was another reason why he gave many donations secretly. Due to his humble nature and to conceal his own name, he often gave financial aid in others’ rather than his own name, so two or three public trusts have thus been established. For the last so many years two such trusts are functioning – the Kamani Foundation and the Kamani Charity Trust. In addition, the Kamani Community Centre, which was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, has also been made into a trust.
Kamani Foundation and Kamani Charity Trust mainly give financial aid to educational institutions for studies, to hospitals and patients, and to help animals. They also give scholarships to students.
Kamani Foundation was established on the 7th May, 1960. In five years it gave scholarships whose total worth was Rs. 38,000 to 145 students and loans whose total worth was Rs. 6,500 to 4 students. It also gave student scholarships worth Rs. 16,000 and loans worth Rs. 55,000 to 9 students for higher studies abroad. Donations worth Rs. 2,95,000 were given to 34 educational institutions and so along with a loan of Rs. 5,000 the total amount given as financial aid for educational purposes was Rs. 4,15,000. It is important to note that this aid was not limited to certain states or regions, but covered the four states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The amount of financial aid given for medicines, medical treatment and to hospitals was about Rs. 15,000. This included aid given to 37 patients, 7 hospitals and other institutions. The maximum aid was given to TB patients, but donations were also given to other hospitals, the Red Cross, maternity homes and TB prevention institutions.
Over and above this, Ramjibhai also helped many people in difficult circumstances, Jivdaya (animal welfare) institutions, homes for the blind and Harijan children and women’s welfare institutions. A total of Rs. 1,10,000 was donated to 37 institutions and 11 persons.
Further, books for the propagation of knowledge were also published by this trust. This trust is registered in Mumbai, whereas Kamani Charity Trust is registered in Jaipur, Rajasthan. This trust’s activities are the same as those of Kamani Foundation.
This trust has given aid worth Rs. 11,000 to 70 students to study within the country and scholarships of Rs. 5,000 per student for higher studies abroad or in India. Thus this trust gave a total of Rs. 75,000 as donations and Rs. 5,000 as a loan, making the total financial aid Rs.80,000.
This trust has helped 15 patients and 6 Ayurvedics institutions to the tune of Rs.4,000. Monetary aid of Rs.5,500 was given to persons in difficult financial circumstances and various institutions. This also included considerable aid given to persons affected by floods.
Other notable donations were: Rs. 5,000 to the Forward High School in Amreli, Rs. 25,000 to the Indian Council of Child Welfare in Delhi, Rs. 3,00,000 to the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Smruti Trust in Bhavnagar, Rs. 25,000 to the high school run by the the Malwan Taluka (Northern Sector) Shiksan Sahai Samiti. All these donations were given as per Ramjibhai’s wishes and instructions.
Over and above this, donations were also given to various children’s organisations, animal shelters, homes for cows, relief funds, Dalit and Harijan organisations, institutions for the blind and educational institutions.
Ramjibhai himself was not a highly educated person, but he definitely had a love for knowledge. Due to this love for knowledge Ramjibhai decided to give financial aid to the lower income workers, their children and families, in his own institutions from May 1954. This scheme started with Rs. 500 to each worker annually. Within a decade the amount reached thousands of Rupees.
Ramjibhai had given many anonymous donations through his secretary Shri Dolarkumar Bhatt, which even his family were not aware of.
Ramjibhai had great regrets that since 1935-36 he had not done much to help the people in his home town of Amreli and its surrounding villages. Due to Ramjibhai’s work in cottage industries and khadi, the villagers were devoted to him and the leading people in the village also insisted that Ramjibhai do something for the people’s welfare in Amreli. During the two decades from 1940-1960, he was not able to do much about this as he had retired from his own ferrous and non-ferrous metal industries, however he was constantly thinking about what he could do.
At that time, in the beginning of 1960, Dr. Jivraj Mehta came up with a scheme to start an arts and science college in Amreli and persuaded Ramjibhai to take an interest in it. Since Ramjibhai had been thinking of doing something for the people’s welfare in Amreli for a long time he grabbed this opportunity – and in a meeting in Mumbai of the people who originally came from Amrely, Dr. Jivraj Mehta announced a donation of six and a half lakhs on behalf of Ramjibhai. Respecting Dr. Jivraj’s appeal, Ramjibhai announced that his long-standing friend, Prataprai Girdharlal Mehta’s name would be given to the arts college. Thus a function was organised to set up the Kamani Science College and Prataprai Arts College in Amreli. A donation of three and a half lakhs for the science college and three lakhs for the arts college was announced by Ramjibhai. To manage these colleges the Amreli Educational Association was established, with Dr. Jivraj Mehta as president. Ramjibhai and his long-standing friend, Mohanlal Virjibhai Patel were the vice-presidents of this association. In addition Ramjibhai’s organisation also gave a donation of Rs. 75,000 to build a hostel for the colleges.
The foundation stone of these two colleges was laid on the 15th June, 1961, at the auspicious hand of Shri Morarji Desai, who was the finance minister at that time. The huge crowd that gathered at this time brought back memories of the enormous number of people that had assembled during the time of the fight for independence. Thousands of people from the surrounding villages came to Amreli to see these freedom fighters from Gujarat. This occasion became a celebration due to the presence of great freedom fighters like Balwantrai Mehta and Shri Dhebarbhai.
As per the blueprints of Kora and Bhatt Company, two buildings were constructed. These two imposing buildings were inaugurated by Shri Mehedi Nawaz Jung, who was the governor of Gujarat at that time, on 15th May, 1964. On this occasion too, Balwantrai Mehta was present along with his wife Sarojben Mehta.
Ten seats in these colleges were reserved for deserving students nominated by the donors and five of these seats were totally free.
The desire of Dr. Jivraj Mehta and Ramjibhai to do something for the people of Amrely, was fulfilled by these two colleges, which satisfied the educational needs of students from Amrely and its surrounding villages.
All this social work gave a Ramjibhai a lot of contentment. He was acutely aware of the suffering caused due to extreme poverty and because of this he was always motivated to help people in difficulty. This phase, when he carried out all this work for the benefit of the people was an important time in Ramjibhai’s life and will always be remembered by society.
In almost everybody’s life, be they a follower or donor, a worker or businessman or an industrialist, in one way or another there comes a difficult testing time. At that time, the beliefs and principles of even highly principled persons are tested. If the person has confidence in himself and a strong will power then God will always help him to overcome these difficult times. He will gain a position as a principled person in people’s hearts and be an inspiration for the present as well as future generations. In our Puranas (scriptures), history, folktales and legends, there are many examples of how principled people survived testing circumstances and overcame them successfully. Ramjibhai was no exception to difficult testing times. There were two or three times during his life when he had to face very difficult circumstances, but luckily he was able to surmount them. Overcoming these testing times successfully, his inner honesty and strength shone through as a result of which he was well respected by his own family, friends and community.
One such occasion arose when Ramjibhai was working for Jivanlal Company. At that time, Seth Jagmal Raja helped him out by giving him timely financial help. The second time he had to face severe difficulties was when Sir Adamji, who had purchased shares in Kamani Metals had not paid for them immediately and wanted some time to give the payment. Ramjibhai was also able to overcome this problem. The third test, which was more severe than the previous two, came in 1957-58. In this case, Rana, who had made a financial investment in the company and Ratilal Zatakia’s who played an important part in the company were involved. A lot of pain, shock and anxiety arose from this conflict, but in the end Ramjibhai and his companies were able to successfully overcome this severe testing time.
Just as after the first two incidents, the working capacity of Kamani Industries improved, so it was after this third incident. The production of Kamani Metals & Alloys increased. After a few scarce years, the company’s position suddenly improved. Again in 1958, the output of towers was higher than at any previous time.
Another desirable result of this (third incident) was that any differences of opinion within the Kamani Group were swept away. Harmony and unity and prevailed. Ramjibhai also came to know the real worth and capacity and reliability of his staff. He also realised that it is not possible to predict how much courage even seemingly ordinary persons can show in certain circumstances, due to their moral principles. He also realised the truth of the saying that however good the harvest may be weeds can destroy it, so the weeds must be got rid of. This new experience was valuable to Ramjibhai and all the other leaders of the group. As a result the strength of the group increased and with this increased strength the group was able to show remarkable progress. As whatever obstruction had been undermining the group’s strength was removed, the group’s strength manifested. Both strength and dedication were manifested. Ramjibhai appreciated this. Ranabhai and his group separated and a new phase began in the progress of the Kamani Group.
Leaders of Gujarat at the ground breaking ceremony for the building of Kamani Science College – Ramjibhai is seen along with Shri Morarji Desai, Dr. Jivraj Mehta, Dheberbhai, Balwantrai Mehta, Maniben Patel, Hansaben Mehta and others.
Shri Ramjibhai giving a cheque for Rs. 1 lakh to the Defence Minister at that time, Shri Yashwantrao Chavan, on behalf of the staff, workers and company towards the National Defence Fund. Shri Ramjibhai is reading the letter of authorisation of the gift. On his left are the directors of the Kamani Group, Sir Chunilal Bhaichand, Shri Vallabhdas Mariwala and Shri Jagdish Munshi – 8.11.’62.
Shri Morarjibhai Desai, the Finance Minister at that time, laying the foundation stone for the Amreli Science and Arts College on 15.6.’61. The foundation stone was laid the very next year after Ramjibhai announced a donation of Rs. Six and a half lakhs, to set it up