Ramjibhai had a large and prosperous family. God had gifted him twelve children, out of which six were sons and six were daughters. As fate willed it three daughters died in childhood. So all in all there were six sons and three daughters. Their names from the eldest to youngest were: Poonamchand, Rasiklal, Sarla, Navinchandra, Nalini, Hasmukh, Navnit, Chandravadan and Mrudula. All these children of Ramjibhai were married.
Due to circumstances, Ramjibhai only studied up to a certain extent, but his love for education was unlimited. He was firm in upholding the established values and mores in life. From the very beginning, his personal life was very refined and he firmly implemented whatever high moral values he believed in. Ramjibhai had not had a very extensive formal education but his experiences in the school of life were unlimited. Due to these experiences he developed a very noble personality. He himself was the architect of his own life. Since he himself had not been able to go in for higher education in college, he was very particular that his children did not miss out on this. Ramjibhai realised the advantages of higher education so he gave a lot of attention and care in extending all the facilities to his children for educational purposes. In addition, realising the importance of practical training he established a school for farmers which would give such training – at that time this was a very new and revolutionary idea. Not satisfied with giving his eldest son, Poonamchand a formal school education, he also sent him to Japan in 1936 to study agriculture. He was able to educate his youngest son, Chandravadan up to the degree level. Since he gave as much importance to practical training, as to formal education, Ramjibhai saw to it that all his children were well versed in business. But over and above this to ensure that his children would become responsible citizens of the future he instilled such values in them, that even if they did not have a degree (of course except for Chandravadan, because he had studied up to the graduate level) his children would be cultured, courteous and virtuous people in the true sense of the word. All his children understood the importance of hard work. All the sons were well trained in business. Since Ramjibhai paid a lot of attention in shaping the character of each of his children he was satisfied with their personalities. All his children led cultured lives and they had great faith in the high values of life.
Since Shri Poonamchand was the eldest son, he had an advantage over the other children, when it came to the care taken by his parents. So it was natural that the personality characteristics of Ramjibhai and his traits of success were clearly seen in him. The generosity of his father, his tempered and pleasing speech, his devotion to duty, understanding, adventurous nature, his constant desire for progress and his unfailing capacity for hard work, not surprisingly all these traits were inherited by Poonamchand.
Shri Poonamchand was born in Amrely on 6th April, 1918. When Ramjibhai went to his native village because he had influenza, Poonamchand was afflicted with pneumonia. Since Poonamchand was the first born son, it was but natural that he was brought up with a lot of love and affection. But Ramjibhai did not overdo it and spoil him. When Ramjibhai had gone on a tour abroad, he had bought Poonamchand a tricycle so that he could move around easily.
Poonamchand was already attending a formal school, but Ramjibhai also engaged a tutor, who came home to teach Poonamchand, so that he would get a better education and also learn cultural values. Luckily this teacher was very good. His name was also Ramji. When Ramjibhai was in Calcutta he bought a pony for Poonamchand. The teacher, Ramji would take Poonamchand for rides on the pony. When this teacher retired in 1926, Ramjibhai showed his gratefulness to him by opening a shop for him in Jamshedpur. The teacher’s shop did well and he was able to earn a good income from it.
In 1930, when Ramjibhai shifted to Mumbai, Poonamchand was admitted to Mumbai’s New Era High School, and the surname ‘Kamani’ was adopted. Ramjibhai’s relationship with the principal, Shri M.T. Vyas remained very cordial till the end.
In Calcutta there was a businessman named Anuprai. Later he worked in the import –export department of Kamani Industries. Ramjibhai requested his father, Dolatrai to come to Mumbai and opened a school and library for children, under him. After Jivanlal was operated upon for piles, he took him (Dolatrai) to take care of him, so Ramjibhai entrusted the work of the school and the library to Shri Ambalal Shah, who used to teach Poonamchand. He also took him and Rasiklal on a tour of Saurashtra.
After Ambalal, the responsibility of Poonamchan’s education was taken up by a graduate from Wadhwan, Shri Manilal Shah. After that Poonachand was also taught by Shri Purshottam Joshi.
When Ramjibhai took up his work in Rambaug, he gave Poonamchand a spade and pickaxe and encouraged him to take an interest in cultivation. Just as ordinary labourers would take their lunch with them when they left home, so also Poonamchand would take his roti with him and go to Rambaug and after working in the fields would eat it with vegetables he had prepared himself. Poonamchand worked in Rambaug from six in the morning to six in the evening and thus recognized the dignity of physical labour in his life.
A well known psychologist, Shri Harbhai Trivedi who taught in a boarding school in Bhavnagar also played an important part in Poonamchand’s education. Poonamchand spent two years in Dakshinamurthi taking basic practical training. Gandhiji had given a lot of importance to practical training. Gandhiji firmly believed that without physical labour, theoretical knowledge was only useful if one wanted to be a clerk. In addition, school and college education was also incomplete (without practical training). If a student studying in an agricultural college, did not know how to use a plough, could not make bullocks work in the way he wanted them to, was not able to water the fields properly, could not work under the burning sun, in the freezing cold or pouring rain, then even if that student held the highest degree from the best agricultural university, he was not suited to work as a farmer or give instructions to them. Gandhiji also realised that a person who had a college degree in agriculture could perhaps become a good officer but he could not be compatible with an illiterate farmer working in the fields. There would always be some kind of barrier between the farmer and the official due to a difference in their positions and their knowledge. Thus due to the fact that the farmer suffered from an inferiority complex and the official had a superiority complex there could not be complete agreement between the two. In addition it is not possible to solve any practical difficulties without actually working in the fields. At that time the reasoning behind Gandhiji’s opinion on practical training was not as well known as it became later. But since Ramjibhai was fully convinced about Gandhiji’s views on practical training, when Poonamchand started work in Rambaug, Ramjibhai pressured him to work hard. Even though later Poonamchand did not work in the fields he understood all the difficulties that farmers faced and he had great respect for them.
‘Oh farmer you can really be counted as the father of the world.’ This line of poetry cannot be found even if you look for it in any text book, but there is no doubt that Poonamchand has as much respect for the farmer as for the father of the world.
His father had taken care to instil humanity in Poonamchand right from the very beginning. Because of this, Poonamchand would always show humanity whatever the risk. Such a situation once arose in his life. During a trip to Tulsishyam a student named Ramjibhai Jadeja was drowning in the lake, whom Poonamchand risked his own life to save. Ramjibhai proudly remembered this incident for a long time. Despite the fact that he attained an important place in the industrial field, Poonamchand always had great respect for all his teachers who contributed either directly or indirectly to his education. He had great respect for Shri Harbhai Trivedi and often donated generously to his organisation.
Thus due to his father’s foresight the foundation of Poonamchand’s education was very strong. His visit to Japan was of great benefit to Poonamchand’s education. After this, due to whatever experiences he had during his career in business he gained the expected maturity. Until 1954 Poonamchand underwent many different good and bad experiences. Ramjibhai diluted the shock of his bad experiences. The good experiences increased Poonamchand’s faith and spread joy in his life. He became kind and gentle. Poonamchand was willing to take the risk of playing a prominent part in various societies and unions in the vast field of industry and he was able to handle this successfully; these activities also played a part in developing his developing a well rounded personality. Also due to his various trips in India and abroad, Poonamchand’s developed a broadminded outlook and his approach to industry had an appropriate direction. In order to gain more foresight in the field of industry and to have the opportunity to develop his personality further, Poonamchand maintained contact with associations outside the industrial field. On 9th December, 1949 he became a member of the Rotary Club of Mumbai.
Actually Ramjibhai had sent Poonamchand to Japan in 1936 to further his education in agriculture and Poonamchand’s bent of mind was also inclined towards agriculture, but along with gaining an education in agriculture he was also attracted by the small and large industries there and realised that he was also inclined towards business (after all he was the son of an industrialis!) So after returning to India, Poonamchand turned his attention more towards industry and jumped into that.
A number of teachers and his father played a large role in shaping Poonamchand’s character and his wife Shrimati Sumitra was also instrumental in this is some ways.
Poonamchand was engaged in 1933. He had been receiving many offers of marriage from good families since 1928. A very dear friend of Ramjibhai, who was a doctor had also sent a marriage proposal on behalf of his daughter, but since she was almost the same age as Poonamchand the proposal could not be accepted. A well known industrialist of Africa had also sent a proposal for Poonamchand, but at that time a convention of the Congress party was being held in Calcutta and on that occasion the well known jeweller from Jaipur, Girdharlal Durlabhji and his younger brother Khelshankar had come to Calcutta. The latter’s eyes fell on Poonamchand and he sent a proposal to Ramjibhai on behalf of Girdharlal’s daughter, Sumitra. At that time the matter did not move ahead much. In the meantime, in 1932, Ramjibhai had to go to Jamshedpur on the occasion of Khelshankar’s wedding. At that time the proposal of the daughter of the notable industrialist in Africa was renewed, but the girl was not ready to get married until she had finished her studies, so the matter ended there. Ramjibhai went with his relatives to Jaipur and stayed at Girdharlal Javeri’s house. There Poonamchand got a chance to know Javeri’s daughter, Sumitra. And knowing that both of them liked each other the elders got them engaged.
Since the Javeri family was originally from Morvi, it was originally decided to have the wedding in Morvi. However, later the wedding was held on 7th February, 1936 in Mumbai. After the wedding ceremony when his daughter-in-law, Sumitra came to get Ramjibhai’s blessings, Ramjibhai had expressed his hopes and desires. When he saw these hopes fulfilled he said with satisfaction about Sumitra, ‘ Sumitra has taken care of all the brothers and sisters and fulfilled her role as a housewife very well.’
A year after his marriage Poonamchand started working for his uncle, Narbheram. As his nephew, Poonamchand asked for better working conditions as compared to the other workers, but his uncle was adamant in his refusal. However, Poonamchand did not take any offence at this. At that time Sumitra was also with Poonamchand. Since Sumitra was well educated according to those times, she was keen to get involved in social work. But society was not so advanced or broadminded at that time, so Sumitra’s involvement in social work was criticised. However, she did not bother about this. The couple was not very comfortable in Jamshedpur, so in 1938 Poonamchand took up a job as a manager in Mukund Iron and Steel Company. At Jivanlal’s insistence Ramjibhai also joined Mukund Iron as a managing director like Jivanlal. Mukundlal did not get on very well with Jivanlalbhai. As a result, later Poonamchand had to tell Ramjibhai, ‘Now for my sake it would be good if you could please work out some solution for me.’ He spent a couple of years in Mukund. During this time Ramjibhai started a factory in Calcutta, which he shifted to Mehsana in 1942 and which Poonamchand joined. Here he had an opportunity to show his true capabilities, as a result of which the development of the factory, Poonamchand’s skill and working abilities were appreciated.
Now Poonamchand’s career became totally business oriented. Slowly he became more involved in all aspects of business related matters. After Poonamchand became a member of the Rotary Club on 9th December, 1949, he became chairperson of the Fellowship Committee from 1954-55 and 1955-56 and fulfilled his duties for two years in succession. After this he was on the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club for two years from 1956-57 and 1957-58. In addition, his father was the Vice-president of the Indian Nonferrous Metal Manufacturers’ Association – Calcutta, in 1954 and after that was the President from 1957-58. After this, from 1959-60 and 1960-61 he was the President of the Semi Manufacturers’ Council for two years. Over and above this, during the years from 1950-‘58, Poonamchand was the Vice-president of the Western India Sheet Rollers’ Association – Mumbai and President in 1961 and 1962. In 1965 and 1966 Poonamchand was elected as a member on the committee of the Indian Merchant’s Chambers and on this basis was a trustee of the Bombay Port Trust. Thus, Poonamchand was deeply involved in many prominent associations in industry, where he occupied a high position and showed his true capabilities. He was also a member of many clubs including the Willingdon Sports Club, the National Sports Club, the Cricket Club of India and the Royal Western India Turf Club. In addition he was also a member of the Indo-American Society, Democratic Group and International Club. Poonamchand was fond of swimming and photography. He was appointed as the Director of the Kamani Group in 1951 and as Chairperson in 1965, after Ramjibhai’s death.
Poonamchand travelled abroad on business many times. He was a highly respected person amongst Indian industrialists. He had a sixth sense and could immediately perceive the thoughts and temperament of persons with whom he came into contact. He was also able to present his own viewpoint firmly but without offending the other person. Just as he had developed the patience to listen carefully to anyone who gave him advice he had also cultivated the ability to take a decision with courage and discrimination. After listening to everybody’s ideas he always took the decision he felt was the best. Poonamchand’s memory was so powerful that those working with him or under him had to remain extremely alert, but still he was firmly entrenched in the hearts of the workers of the Kamani Group and he was the soul of the Kamani Group.
Ramjibhai’s second son Rasiklal was born in Chorwad on 20th May, 1920, five months after Ramjibhai had retired from Jivanlal Company for the first time. He was also educated in the same way as Poonamchand. A private tutor was also engaged for him and just like Poonamchand he sent to New Era and Dakshinamurthy to study. Rasiklal studied up to metric (SSC) level. He had joined Mukund Iron and even worked on the furnaces there. After that when Ramjibhai set up a factory in Calcutta, Rasiklal joined that. When the factory was shifted to Mehsana in 1942 all the work was carried out under Rasiklal’s supervision.
Rasiklal was engaged to a girl of his choice, but the engagement broke in a couple of years and in 1947 he was engaged for a second time to Hemlata, the daughter of Shri Virchand Ghatalia. Since Rasiklal had to go to America this engagement had to be finalised quickly. He left for America just fifteen days after his engagement. After returning he was married in 1948 in Mumbai.
Rasikal’s nature was somewhat different than that of Poonamchand. From the beginning Rasiklal only engaged in work that he was sure would be successful. Also because of his trip to America in 1947-48, Rasiklal learnt the art of management and how to pay proper attention to detail. After returning from America, Rasiklal organised the factory in Kurla very well. He totally immersed himself in his work without bothering about the outside world.
During this time Rasiklal played an importorant role in obtaining agencies from different companies in Europe. In 1947 Rasiklal took an agency of the English company, Fergusson Tractors and established a department of agricultural machinery and supervised both these matters. After a couple of years, he took agencies of the well known Italian companies Fiat for tractors and Olivetti for tele-printers and typewriters. The Kamani Group made a good profit through the Fergusson agency.
After 1953 Rasiklal went to take care of the factory in Jaipur. After he returned from there he stayed in Kurla and looked after the factory there. During Rana’s time he looked after the sheet iron and zinc oxide factories. On the 1st November, 1961 Rasiklal was appointed Deputy Managing Director and looked after the finance department.
Rasiklal was very good at management. He would never start any new project without planning ahead. After carefully considering the plan he would firmly implement the work according to what had been planned. As a result there was never any problem, confusion, mismanagement or delay in the work. Rasiklal was very capable of management and carrying out work according to plan. From 1964-65 Rasiklal started to take an active part in various associations. He was the Vice-president of the Engineering Association of India – Mumbai Branch and President of its structural panel. He was also a member of the Mumbai Rotary Club and the Bombay Presidency Radio Club. He liked gardening and art. He was also very fond of reading scientific magazines. A notable trait in Rasiklal’s character was that he always wanted to do new things. He had no dislike of routine work, but he believed that along with carrying out routine work, doing something unique developed one’s originality, so he always forging new inroads, going in new directions and thinking about the possibilities of new ventures.
Rasiklal’s younger sister Sarla was born on 9th April, 1924 in Chorwad. She was educated in English in a newly established girls’ school in Amreli. There, over and above English and other languages, home-science, the science of health, art, needlework and other subjects were taught. The science of health and home-science were taught by Amrely’s well known vaidraj (Ayurvedic doctor) and friend of Ramjibhai, Krishnaprasad Girjashankar Bhatt. English was taught by his son Dolarkumar Bhatt. Afterwards, Dolarkumar joined Ramjibhai’s factory in Jaipur and later was appointed as the public relations officer of the Kamani Group. He became Poonamchand’s trusted man and was a very popular officer within the Kamani Group. He was very conscientious and honest. He was very persevering, enthusiastic and careful in his work and the notable traits in his personality were patience and gentleness.
Sarlaben was engaged to Pranlal from the Parekh family of Junaghad. Pranlal had come to Dhari and there since both of them had liked each other they were engaged and they were married in 1940 in ‘Desai wadi’ in Ghatkopar. Unfortunately in 1942, Pranlal was stricken with typhoid and passed away. It was a big shock to Ramjibhai and Jadavben to see their daughter a widow. A short while after this unfortunate incident the parents decided to have their daughter stay with them and all the brothers and sisters-in-law saw to it that she did not feel unwelcome. She stayed with her family peacefully and happily.
Ramjibhai’s third son Navinchandra was born on 17th February, 1926 in Jamshedpur. Just like his two elder brothers he also studied in New Era school, where he studied up to metric (SSC). After he passed his metric examination it was decided to send Navinchandra to America for higher studies, but due to certain circumstances this was not possible at that time so he took admission in a college in Pune. After studying there for eight to ten months, Navinchandra finally went to America. In 1948 Ramjibhai had gone to America with Jadavben. In America Navinchandra studied in Brooklyn University and then went to Baltimore. There he met up with his parents and returned to India in 1950 without obtaining his degree. After coming to India Navinchandra joined his father’s business. He was engaged to Nalini, the daughter of Durlabhbhai Umedchand Parikh and they were married in Datia Palace in 1951.
After his marriage Navinchandra was sent to Delhi. He stayed there until the end of 1956 and then went to Jaipur and stayed there as the Resident Director. Navinchandra was very fond of sports, gardening, photography and reading.
Ramjibhai’s second daughter, Nalini, was born on 17th January, 1928 in Amreli. She was married in 1946 to Mansukhlal Parekh from Amreli. Mansukhlal was a fellow student of Rasiklal.
Ramjibhai’s fourth son, Hasmukh, was born on 9th December, 1928 in Calcutta. He only studied up to metric. For a short time Hasmukh had studied in Dakshinamurthy. His younger brother Navin was also with him there. But there he had to observe certain practices to become self reliant, which were not suitable to him and so Hasmukhbhai returned to Mumbai. When Hasmukhbhai joined Kamani Industries on 1st July, 1948 he started work at the lowest level. Initially he worked in the Kurla factory and thereafter in the agricultural machinery department in Kamani Chambers. In 1950 Hasmukhbhai went to England and underwent training with Fergusson Tractors. After he completed his training and came back, Hasmukhbhai was assigned to work in the tractor sales department, in the office of the Kamani Group in Madras. He was appointed assistant manager in the agricultural machinery department in 1952. In 1953 he was appointed as an assistant to the technical director in the Kurla factory. In 1954 he did the work of the production manager in the absence of the latter. In 1957 he was appointed as production manager and in September of the same year he was made the head of the factory of Kamani Metals and Alloys. From 1961 Hasmukhbhai worked as the Resident Director of this company and the Managing Director of Kamani Tubes and Electric Lamp Caps. Over and above this he also had the responsibility of Kamani Metallic Oxides. In addition, the development plans of Kamani Engineering Corporation were also under him.
He was married to Meenakshi, the granddaughter of Dr. Chamanlal Mehta and the daughter of Shri Jayantilal B. Shah, a former purchase manager of Tata, on 13th December 1956 in Mumbai. Hasmukhbhai was very fond of cultural music, sports and photography. He used to play the ‘tabla.’ He was a member of the Rotary Club of Mumbai. In 1965 Hasmukhbhai was the President of the Indian Zinc Oxide Manufacturers’ Association. He was a member of the Cricket Club of India, the National Sports Club and Indo-Iranian Society amongst other associations.
Hasmukhbhai’s younger brother, Navnit was born on 11th November, 1931 in Mumbai. He passed his Inter Science exam and then attended a one year course in Davar’s College of Commerce, but did not give the final examination. During his school days he spent a short time in Dakshinamurthy; he could not adjust there and came back to Mumbai.
In 1952 Navnitbhai joined the Kamani Group’s mining division to learn the work. After that, on 1st July, 1952 he was appointed as the Commercial Manager of the erection department. After working in this position for two years he went to Delhi in October 1954, to organise the radio mast erection work that was going on there. After returning from there in February 1956 he joined the factory in Kurla. After two months he went to Bihar for the Gurumahisahi railway work. From there, in December, Navnitbhai worked as an officer on special duty in the stores, accounts and other departments and looked after the work there. In July, 1957 he worked with Rana in the plant started by Kamani Pigments Works and Kamani Metallic Oxide to manufacture lead oxide and litharge during a critical time. As Rana was removed from the position of joint Managing Director, Navnit was again appointed as Business Manager of Kamani Engineering Corporation. In 1958 he was transferred to the production department. He was appointed as Works Executive and later as Chief Executive in 1961. From the 20th October, 1961 he worked as Resident Director and Chief Executive and was also a director in a number of other companies.
Navnitbhai was married to Susmita on 17th December, 1956, four days after Hasmukhbhai’s wedding. His was a love marriage. Navnitbhai was very fond of photography, cards and reading. He excelled in colour photography.
Ramjibhai’s youngest son, Chandravadan, was born on 17th October, 1933 in Amreli. It was Chandravadan’s good fortune that amongst all the brothers he was the only one who graduated from college. After passing his B.Com exam in 1955, Chandravan was appointed as an assistant to the Finance Manager in October, 1956. After that, in 1958 he was appointed as Finance Manager. He worked in this capacity until November, 1961. In December, 1961 Chandravadan took on the responsibility of the production of metal strips in the Kurla factory. In December 1961 he was sent to Tehran. There, on the 14th January, 1965 he was appointed as Managing Director of Ieneh-S.A. On 9th May, 1965 he was married to Sangeeta. This was an inter caste marriage.
Chandravan was extremely keen on photography. All of Ramjibhai’s sons cultivated a love for photography. And almost all of them loved sports.
Ramjibhai’s youngest daughter was Mrudula. She was born 12th July, 1937 in Amreli. Being the youngest amongst all the brothers and sisters, she was brought up with great indulgence. She was married to Dineshchandra, the son of Raibahadur Himchand Kapoorchand Shah, the Managing Director of Jivanlal (1929) Ltd. on the 3rd December, 1960. Her marriage was celebrated with much fanfare. A coloured film was made of all the functions including the distribution of the invitation cards. On seeing the film of marriage ceremony, the Films Division requested the best parts for a film on the different marriage ceremonies in India and gave a written agreement for the same.
Ramjibhai made an effort to give all his sons the best education possible up to the highest level. He was never upset that any of his sons got a higher education. On the contrary he gladly made all the necessary arrangements. He also took great care to see that all his sons were well trained in the business. When he felt it was necessary he saw to it that his sons were sent abroad so that they could study or undergo training. He was very particular about one thing, namely, that the knowledge gained by them could be skilfully used in any department of the Kamani Group of Industries. This showed remarkable foresight on the part of the father. Only after he was sure that his sons were capable and ready did he appoint them in a high position in his business, so that they could play a proper part in expanding the business. No son was given the privilege of holding a high position without the proper qualifications. As a result all of Ramjibhai’s sons were able to play a considerable role in the development and expansion of the Kamani Group of Industries.
Shri Ramjibhai’s family: Seated from left to right – Shrimati Nalini N. Kamani, Shrimati Hemlata R. Kamani, Shrimati Jadavlaxmiben R. Kamani, Shrimati Sumitra P. Kamani, Shrimati Meena H. Kamani. Standing in the first row from left to right – Shri Hasmukh Kamani, Navin Kamani, Shrimati Sangeeta C. Kamani, Shrimati Sushmita N. Kamani, Shrimati Anjani A. Parekh and Chandravadan Kamani. Standing in the second row from left to right – Shri Ashwin P. Parekh, Punamchand Kamani, Rasik Kamani and Navnit Kamani.
Friends and family during the wedding of Shri Ramjibhai’s youngest daughter, Mrudula. At the centre is Shri Shriprakashji, the Governor at that time. Next to Ramjibhai is his brother, Shri Narbheram Kamani.
(a) Shri Ramjibhai; (b) Poonamchandbhai; (c) Rasikbhai; (d) Navinbhai; (e) Hasmukhbhai; (f) Navinbhai; (g) Chandravadanbhai.
Ramjibhai at the factory of Fuji Electric Company, in Tokyo, Japan: on his left is the Managing Director of Fuji, Shri Shimasu, and on his right is Shri Chandravadan Kamani.