Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Jinnah’s connections with Mahindra, Wipro and Cipla

Muhammed Ali Jinnah

That was mid 1940s and those were politically extremely heady days. While Congress leaders were expecting independence from the British Raj soon, the Muslim League was almost certain that their dream for a separate homeland for Indian Muslims is not very far off.  In this backdrop, the company named as Mahindra and Mohammed (M&M) was created in the then Bombay by brothers K.C. Mahindra and J.C. Mahindra with Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) alumni Ghulam Mohammed. That was a steel trading company.

And Punjab and Punjabi were unifying them.  While Mahindra’s were from Ludhiana, Ghulam Mohammad was from Lahore. They had big dreams for their company. Ghulam Muhammad joined the new venture after quitting the Indian Railway’s account service. That was not a small thing as people didn’t quit government jobs so easily during those days.  He was a Charted Accountant as well. 

Ghulam Mohammad

As the Mahindra & Mohamed was making some headway, suddenly Pakistan become a reality. That was then Muhammad Ali Jinnah asked Ghulam Mohammad to immigrate to new country.  Actually, Jinnah had offered several Muslim Industrialists to shift to Pakistan.  Seth Ram Krishna Dalima was his friend too. But, he was not offered any position in Pakistan by Jinnah. Jinnah even visited Dalmia Nagar in Bihar at the invitation of his friend. Dalmia had purchased his Delhi’s mansion too. Dalmia’s wife and noted Hindi author, Dinesh Nandni Dalmia, used to narrate his husband’s close friendship with Jinnah to this writer at her Sikandra Road’s house.

 Jinnah had offered Finance Minister’s portfolio to Ghulam Mohammad. Yes, the offer was tempting.  Ghulam Mohammad left Bombay and Mahindra and Mohammad for Karachi to  become the Finance Minister of a new country. As he left for Karachi, Mahindra & Mohammad became Mahindra & Mahindra in Bombay.

After the Independence of Pakistan in 1947, Ghulam Mohammad joined as the country’s first Finance Minister where he helped draft the first five-year plans for the national economy.

Following the assassination of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, he was invited to be the Governor-General by  Khawaja Nazimuddin who himself took over the government as Prime Minister. But, Ghulam Mohammad was very upset with the affairs in his country and died unsung in 1955.

And in India, from a steel trading enterprise, the Mahindra & Mahindra has become a 19 billion dollar group with more than 2.50 lakh employees in over 100 countries across the globe. It is arguably among the most respected corporate houses in India. 

Mahindra & Mahindra Limited has a formidable presence in aerospace, aftermarket, agribusiness, automotive, components, construction equipment, consulting services, defence, energy, farm equipment, finance and insurance, industrial equipment, information technology, leisure and hospitality, logistics, real estate, retail, and two wheelers. Besides this, Mahindra Finance is India’s largest rural non-banking financial company (NBFC) and it is the world largest Tractor manufactuter.

And remember, Jinnah had also invited Azim Premji’s father, Muhammad Hashim Premji, too to shift to Pakistan. Azim Premji was just over three years old then. Jinnah invited Bombay based Muhammad Hashim Premji to come to Pakistan. Muhammad Hashim Premji was also offered to take up the huge responsibility in the Pakistani government. But he rejected the proposal of Jinnah and decided to remain in India.

Mohammad Hashim Premji

 Muhammad Hashim Premji, a Gujarati Muslim, had set up Western Indian Vegetable Product Limited in 1945, which is today known as Wipro. Wipro is a massive IT company with business in 67 countries. Wipro employs more than 1.2 million employees across the world. In 2005, the Government of India awarded the third highest civilian honour of Padmabhushan to Premji. In 2011, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian honour. Premji founded Azim Premji Foundation in January 2001. It works to improve schools across the country. Along with his wife, Yasmin, he remains active in charity. His  first son, Rishad, is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of Wipro’s IT business.

Just spare a thought what would have been the fate of Premji’s father had he accepted the invitation of Jinnah ? It is scary that in that situation India might not have got Azim Premji and Wipro.

 Jinnah did not invite Aligarh born  Dr K A Hamied, the founder of Cipla Laboratories Ltd. But, it is said that he offered him some prize position in Pakistan through his friends. Hamied had rejected the offer. After all, Hamied was close to none other than Mahatma Gandhi. Hamied used to invite the likes of  Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr. Sushila Nayyar, Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, Ramaswamy Mudaliar, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Gulzarilal Nanda, Morarji Desai, Sir C.V. Raman, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Maulana Azad to the plants of Cipla.

Dr K A Hamied passed his formative years in the cradle of the country’s struggle for independence. Watching Pt. Nehru during his student days and later spending time with Gandhi ji at Sabarmati instilled in him the values of equality, equity, compassion, and in being of service to others. 

Dr K. A. Hamied and wife

There are many anecdotes that demonstrate his steely resolve and his determination to live by these principles – realising early that colonialism shoud also be tackled by the pursuit of high science and industrialisation, doggedly finding means to pursue higher studies in an alien land in an alien language, seeking a life partner that broke social taboos of the day, standing up to assert his national identity to a leader of Jinnah’s stature, realising his higher purpose in building an enterprise that would make a young nation self-reliant. 

And now Cipla has 34 manufacturing units in 8 locations across India and a presence in over 80 countries. It is the jewel of Indian Pharma sector. In nutshell, one can say Jinnah could not impress many Indian Muslim industrialists. Alas, only one entrepreneur accepted his offer and he died as a dejected man.  

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