Just as humility augments knowledge and forgiveness enhances strength, so wealth is only meaningful if it comes together with discernment. To earn wealth is not difficult, but its proper use is very hard unless one has had the right upbringing and education. How a person uses his leisure time and wealth clearly shows whether he is refined or not. When a person has more money than he needs, there is always the fear that he may lose his courteousness and self control and forget his traditions. If a person does not face such fears, he can be considered lucky in many ways. Ramjibhai had earned a lot of money by working hard in the industrial field. But this wealth, which could be so transient, did not make Ramjibhai’s mind waver. By the grace of God and his own self control his discerning intelligence saw to it that Ramjibhai remained in control and his mind was unwavering, despite earning untold wealth. Not only that but as per Gandhiji’s beliefs he considered himself a trustee of his wealth and used it freely for social work.
If anything stood out in Ramjibhai’s personality, it was his predilection towards social work. If the importance of social welfare was greater than one’s own welfare in one’s mind it showed a real desire to do as much as possible for society. It also showed that he had the humility to place himself (his own welfare) at the lowest possible level and take pride in placing the welfare of society at the highest level. All the social workers and reformers in our country were born from a desire to improve the social conditions. Instead of the perverse kind of thinking that one can behave like a king just because one is wealthy and has all the comforts in life, they believe that despite being wealthy and comfortably off they are the humblest of humble servants of society. Their reasoning is that they exist only because society exists, they are a part of society – they have these right ideas. Ramjibhai developed these ideas towards society with complete understanding. This side of his personality was so strong that all his other attributes – his great foresight for industrial progress, his capacity for hard work, extraordinary adventurous nature, remarkable practicality etc., were like stars hidden by the light of the sun. It can be said that his true wealth was his desire for social service and the welfare of society and the hard work he put in to fulfill these aspirations. These were his inner riches.
He did not gain this inner wealth suddenly and without effort. When Gandhiji came into his life he understood and accepted his ideas. He had inherited his father Laxmichand’s righteousness and when Jadavlaxmiben entered his life he totally accepted her into his heart. These three obvious reasons can be cited.
As soon as he was married to Jadavlaxmiben, Ramjibhai realized in his heart that this was not just a social obligation. The entry of this lady into his life was his fate and part of God’s plan. He felt that this woman was destined to be the strength in his life. As soon as he perceived this Ramjibhai saw they way to fulfilling his desires. As his faith gradually grew firmer that fate had sent this lady to be his lifelong companion in his overall prosperity, it seemed that Ramjibhai gained greater strength in religious, social and industrial activities. From the moment Jadavlaxmiben entered his life Ramjibhai started to make rapid inroads in all three directions simultaneously, a journey which continued without a pause until the end of his life. Ramjibhai attributed the success he achieved in all his activities and the progress he made in them to Jadavlaxmiben’s cooperation. Ramjibhai never felt the need to look for any evidence to support his beliefs. Neither did it ever occur to him to test his faith. Faith was faith and this faith became Ramjibhai’s great strength. It gave exceptional dynamism and a distinctive edge to Ramjibhai’s efforts.
This awareness lasted his whole life. Just as Ramjibhai did not look for proof of his faith in the world of logic, neither did look for any astrological reasons for it and anyway Ramjibhai did not really believe in astrology. Before starting any new industry no fears of ‘what would happen?’ ever occurred to him. Because right from the very beginning he never let any doubts enter his mind or imagination. He always remained firm because of his faith. That faith was always ringing in his mind, at every moment, increasing his strength. He was so fearless that he never even bothered to take out an insurance policy on his life. If faith flowed on like a river, then there was no room in one’s mind for doubt, which was like a dry desert.
In 1931-32, when a young astrologer from Mahua, insisted on reading the horoscopes of Poonamchand and Rasiklal, Ramjibhai very reluctantly gave him the horoscopes of both his sons. The astrologer, on studying both the horoscopes predicted that both of them would enjoy fame like that accorded to royalty. They would work in the field of iron and metals and would have to move to the place where Poonamchand’s father-in-law lived. Due to Ramjibhai’s indifference towards astrology, he had totally forgotten all these predictions. In 1942, when he had to go to Jaipur, the astrologer’s predictions suddenly came back to him. After that, due to persuasion of a number of well wishers, Ramjibhai had his own horoscope read by some astrologers. Ramjibhai did not believe in astrology because he felt that due to it a person would not put in hard work but would leave everything to fate. Even so he had called a chhaya josh* from Patan to Mehsana and again during the meeting of the Non Ferrous Metal Industries Panel in November 1949, he had invited astrologers for the entertainment of the Panel members; Dr. Anant Pandya, Motichand Shah, Dr. D.N. Wadia, Dr. Daru P. Antia and others. In 1939, at the insistence of Himchand Shah, he had Jadavlaxmiben’s palm read by Dakshinamurty, the astrologer from Bezvadana. After this the family’s faith in astrology increased and they used to call astrologers. However, Ramjibhai did not place much importance on their predictions and forecasts for the future.
*chhaya joshi – An astrologer who reads one’s future from one’s shadow.
From his own experience Ramjibhai realized that faith in oneself is the only source of strength and it is necessary to have faith in the people with whom one is working as this increases their strength too. Because of this belief in himself, he almost always got good results. He had drawn on these firm beliefs to manage his own institutions and seen their powerful influence.
The first time Ramjibhai retired from his industrial pursuits, was the starting point of his social work.
Just as Ramjibhai considered Jadavlaxmiben’s entry into his life as auspicious, he also considered Poonamchand’s birth as a sign of good luck. During the period from 1920 to 1924, the seeds of this hidden wealth, sprouted and grew in Ramjibhai’s heart. He considered that his prosperity was due to Poonamchand’s birth.
He also gave a lot of importance to Poonamchand’s marriage. He welcomed his new daughter-in-law with the same faith. After Poonamchand’s marriage, work in Mukund Iron started on a large scale and the industry developed extensively. The belief of their father made a deep impression on the minds of Poonamchand and Sumitra.
Behaviour, thoughts and speech – in all three Ramjibhai exercised self-control. Whether his heart was overflowing with joy, burning with anger or filled with sorrow, Ramjibhai never let even a shadow of his feelings cross his face.
In 1955, Jadavlaxmiben’s brother, Bhaichand Panchmia, passed away. At that time Ramjibhai was in Dhari. His son Navinchandra, who had come there to recuperate from an illness, was with him. Ramjibhai got the news of Bhaichand’s death by telegram. Ramjibhai believed that if Jadavlaxmiben was not mentally prepared, this bad news would be a terrible shock for her. So Ramjibhai decided not to give this unhappy news to his wife and behaved in his normal way. His wife also had no inkling that Ramjibhai was keeping such sorrowful news to himself.
The incident with Rana was a severe test for him. At that time also Ramjibhai had maintained the same kind of self control.
Ramjibhai was very measured in his speech. He didn’t like flowery speech, exaggeration or pretentious language. He had mastered the art of saying as much as possible in the minimum number of words. Even if he had to issue an order he would phrase it in such a way that it sounded like a suggestion. He would also convey his firm decisions as a recommendation, but everybody understood that his suggestions were to be followed. He had realized the importance of compromise in his public and personal life as well as in the industrial field. Problems and complicated situations could be solved by compromise – not by destruction or severance. This was his philosophy, which Poonamchand also respected. So if a compromise was required in any situation, Ramjibhai would entrust the matter to Poonamchand. Any matters requiring a firm decision were handled by Rasiklal and difficult issues were dealt with by Hasmukhbhai.
Ramjibhai won over the hearts of all his staff and anybody who came into contact with him by his serene nature. The roots of his desire to improve the lot of society lay in his compassionate nature. This compassion was visible by his donations, both public and anonymous, solving quarrels, mediating in relationships that had reached breaking point and bringing about a mutually acceptable solution by various means. If any worker completed a difficult job successfully, Ramjibhai would always pat him on his back and reward him, thus encouraging him. Ramjibhai had achieved considerable success in creating true unity amongst persons in his own society.
This compassion was a bridge that reached the hearts of all those who came into contact with him. Due to his impartiality, he could determine the true nature of a person and gauge his strengths and weaknesses. He was especially compassionate towards the downtrodden and tried to help them as much as possible. In his home and in his institutions, he had made it a rule that those who were strong and capable should be sympathetic towards those who were weaker and help them with their work. This rule was strictly followed, both in his house and in his institutions. The household servants and cooks all got leave once a month and on those days every member of the family had to do their own work.
As his sons grew older and the work of the company increased, Ramjibhai reduced the number of orders and instructions that he issued. He even reduced the number of suggestions. Ramjibhai believed that having faith in his sons and giving them responsibility would encourage them to work harder. Ramjibhai always first gauged the strengths and weaknesses of a person and then entrusted them with work suited to their capabilities. Once he had given the responsibility of any job to a person, the person was free to decide on his style of working and take decisions accordingly. If his sons or any other staff member faced a problem and could not find a way out and asked him for advice, Ramjibhai was always ready to give it. This was his policy.
Ramjibhai accepted that both the mind and body needed rest. He organized his work in such a way that after putting in a good day’s hard work, there was sufficient time for rest and relaxation. He personally saw to it that all his staff had sufficient time for relaxation and an adequate number of holidays.
Ramjibhai never took any hasty decisions. Such behavior was just not in his nature. However, after careful thinking and taking a considered decision in any matter, he would see to it that there was no delay in putting his ideas into practice.
Although Ramjibhai was a wealthy person he believed that wealth should be used prudently and economically. He himself strictly followed this principle and saw to it that his family and staff did the same. His principle was that not even a single pin, used to hold old papers together should be wasted.
Ramjibhai would always carry out any work after proper thought and planning, and as a result of this, time, energy and money were never wasted.
Ramjibhai always wanted to gain and apply new knowledge. As a result his brilliant mind was enriched as he could think in different ways. Ramjibhai realized that India could not afford to always be dependent on foreign countries for non-ferrous metals and that it was necessary to look into ways of producing these metals here. Thus within about four years of of establishing Kamani Industries, Ramjibhai outlined plans to search for and produce copper, zinc, beryllium, lead and other non-ferrous metals, within the country. At a time when the industry was not much aware of ‘malleable castings,’ he advised that, ‘this item is very necessary for India’s future.’ The thought occurred to Ramjibhai that it would be financially very beneficial to industry if factories were set up so that they could easily access the material they required, which was often produced by another factory, i.e., near to one another. As soon as this thought occurred to him he made sincere attempts to put it into practice. In those days this idea was considered very far sighted.
Ramjibhai always followed simplicity in his way of life. His simplicity also had an effect on his family and other people. It was not just in his clothes – it extended to his diet, they way he travelled, his thoughts and speech. This virtue of simplicity was a result of his tendency not to hoard possessions. Simplicity surrounded his whole lie. He had accepted simplicity in his life and he wanted others to also accept it, so he always stressed on the importance of simplicity. However he never imposed his ideas on anybody. Ramjibhai never thought of anything as his right. He never even imposed his ideas on Jadavlaxmiben, but following in her husband’s footsteps she also led a simple life.
The understanding between Ramjibhai and his wife was really very special. He never did anything, whether it was very significant or something very trivial, without her knowledge. He never kept any secrets from her. There was never anything about which he did not take his wife’s opinion. From her side, Jadavlaxmiben had matched herself so thoroughly to her husband that they thought and behaved as one.
Most of the times, Ramjibhai and Jadavlaxmiben would think of the same solution to any problem. This unity of heart and mind between both of them was indeed remarkable. Jadavlaxmiben played no small part in seeing that Ramjibhai did not get carried away by his inherent generosity.
Thus Ramjibhai was content in every way in his family life, business and industrial life and social life. His life went on very peacefully. There was no place in it for unnecessary commotion and uncalled for anxiety. It was not that extremely trying circumstances and difficulties had not occurred in Ramjibhai’s life, but he had faced them with rock like steadfastness and overcome them. Difficulties had not undermined Ramjibhai’s strengths or weakened him in any way. On the contrary, every problem he faced made him more resilient and his will power stronger and more spirited. He lived peacefully right up until the end of his life.
His death was a great loss not only to his family members but also to his friends, workers and the industrial community in general. This can also be considered a great achievement on Ramjibhai’s part. He was a valued member of society and the nation. This great person is no longer present with us, but his sentiments and ideas still pervade in both physical and subtle form. Of course they are present as a memory. To be remembered not only by a few people or a small family but by the whole industrial community is no small achievement for any man is it?
Shri Ramjibhai Hansraj Kamani (wearing a turban) explaining to the Maharaja of Vadodhara, His Highness, Sayyajirao Gaekwad about ‘Rambaug,’ in Dhari during an exhibition of fruits.
The Managing Director of Kamani Industries, Shri Rasiklal Kamani, welcoming the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, at that time, Tun Abdul Razak. The Indian ambassador to Libya, Shri Talyarkhan is standing in the centre – April 30th, 1968.