Sunday, 7 July 2013


To help him recover his health, after he was afflicted by this illness, his younger brother, Narbheram invited Ramjibhai to his house in Jamshedpur.
Since Nabheram, who was four years younger than Ramjibhai, suffered from chronic asthma, he lived in Jamshedpur, where the climate suited his health. He had opened a store there, in which he sold household goods. The store did well, because he was a born businessman, spoke skilfully and charmingly, and was very sociable. Within a short time he bought another store, which had been owned by the Co-operative Society. He also started selling automobiles and automobile parts on both a wholesale and retail basis, and a while later he took an agency from Burma Shell for their kerosene and petrol. Thus day by day, as Narbheram’s businesses thrived his prosperity also increased.
Hearing of Ramjibhai’s arrival in Jamshedpur, Jivanlal again insisted that Ramjibhai should rejoin his company. Since Ramjibhai had retired from the company, Jivanlal had established three more factories, one each in Mumbai, Calcutta and Madras. Since it was difficult for Jivanlal to single-handedly manage the factories in three different places, he persisted in his appeals to Ramjibhai to join him, showing his immense conviction, profound faith and great love and affection towards Ramjibhai. Finally Ramjibhai had to give in to Jivanlala’s entreaties and join his company. After a year or so Harakhchand also joined the company, but after some time he took permanent retirement from the company and was followed in this by Shri Purushottam Jhinabhai of Chorwad.
After Ramjibhai joined him, Jivanlal thought of establishing a factory in Rangoon. Ramjibhai went to Rangoon and found that a factory manufacturing pianos was up for sale. The reason for this was that it was difficult to run this factory in the humid climate there. Ramjibhai bought this factory for Jivanlal’s company for Rs. One and half lacs, and having arranged for the necessary machinery and materials, started production. Jivanlalbhai now owned four factories.                
Ramjibhai rented a place for Rs. 400 on Elgin Road, situated in the Bhavanipur area of Calcutta, and began staying there. This was near to Pretoria Street, where Jivanlal also came to stay. During this time Gazdar Company was not doing well. Jivanlal had a fifty percent partnership in this company. There was no legal partnership deed, only a handwritten note accepting the terms of partnership. Ramjibhai, showing his business expertise, advised Jivanlalbhai to register the document. Since the matter was delicate, Ramjibhai and Jivanlal approached a solicitor, named Mallick, who advised both of them to take over the factory. They persuaded Mr. Gazdar to give up his partnership. Jivanlal became the sole owner of the factory and had a legal document drawn up to this end, and had it registered in court. Ramjibhai and Jivanlal both remained partners in Habib Company.     
At that time, aluminium vessels with the trademark “Crown” were very popular. The trademark was registered and the company’s business was running in full swing.
Now, due to the fact that the import of goods from England had been stopped, a company which manufactured aluminium vessels under the brand name “Gold Mohur,” set up a factory in Calcutta. A Mr. Fulchand Tamboli from Jamnagar opened a shop and took the agency to sell these goods. Every household in Bengal was familiar with Crown goods. So “Gold Mohur” company looked into the expense that would be involved in establishing their superiority over the “Crown” brand. They found that they would have to spend over Rs. 2 crore, so firmly entrenched was the “Crown” brand.
In Belur, a Marwadi businessman had two small factories, one in which cigarettes were produced and another which manufactured screws. The factories stood on about 20 vighas (1 vigha = approximately 2/5th of an acre) of land. The factories could be purchased for about one and a half lac Rupees, but the goods in the factories were worth almost seven lacs.
Seven lac rupees was by no means a small sum. The question arose as to how this amount could be arranged.
Jivanlal’s company was the only such institution (in Calcutta) where Gujaratis could find employment. The fact that financial constraints were restricting the growth of Jivanlal’s company spread throughout the Gujarati community in Calcutta. At that time, a person by the name of Jagmal Raja was living in Calcutta. He was a textile merchant and did not really have any other interests, but such was Ramjibhai’s and Jivanlal’s reputation and aura that Jagmal Raja immediately wrote out a cheque for Rs. seven lacs. They took possession of the Belur factories and work started in earnest.
When Ramjibhai was in Calcutta, Gandhiji’s hallowed footsteps graced his home. The son of a certain gentleman, Satishbabu, who resided in Calcutta, was constantly ill and since it was felt that only the climate of Saurashtra would help him in his recovery, Gandhiji requested Ramjibhai to accommodate Satishbabu’s son in his house in Amreli, to which Ramjibhai at once agreed and made all the necessary arrangements.
Jivanlal’s company was doing extremely well. He had a shop in Canning Street from where he sold aluminium utensils. Opposite his shop, in Mehta Building, there were a number of small shops. They got these shops demolished and put up a new showroom there, which was inaugurated by Sir Surendranath Banerjee. They displayed their goods here. This place turned out to be very lucky for them, and they earned a lot of money from it. The place was known as “Blue Building” or Mehta Market.
On the 1st of May, 1927, Ramjibhai left for England. This was his first business trip abroad. At that time heated discussions were going on between America and England regarding the rate of aluminium sheets. With such a dispute going on between these two major nations, it was only possible for Jivananlal’s company to do profitable business if they could purchase the raw material at a reasonable rate. So Ramjibhai had to go to England to sort out this matter and make proper arrangements. At that time Ramjibhai was not keeping too well, so going to England would not only get the work done but also improve his health, thus killing two birds with one stone.
The trunks he was to take abroad were being marked for the very first time with “K” for Kamani. Until this time he had always been known as Ramjibhai Hansraj. It was only when Ramjibhai’s eldest son, Poonamchandbhai, was enrolled in Mumbai’s New Era School in 1929, that the surname was officially used.  


No comments:

Post a Comment