Known as the man who established India’s first ever shipping yard, Walchand Hirachand Doshi was a prominent Indian industrialist. He was the founder of the grand Walchand group as well. Apart from the shipyard, Mr Doshi gave the first car as well as the first aircraft factory to the nation. Many construction companies, engineering companies and various other businesses were his establishments.
Born in a Gujarati Jain family, Walchand Hirachand Doshi hailed from Solapur which is now in the Maharashtra state of India. His parents hailed from Wankaner region of the Gujarat. His father was Seth Hirachand Nemchand Doshi who was a proficient businessman involved in cotton trading as well as money lending. When it comes to education, Walchand Hirachand Doshi did his matriculation from Solapur Government High School in the year 1899. He later attained a prestigious degree in Arts from St. Xavier’s College. He went to Deccan college for further studies in Pune but left it to pursue his family business.
In the year 1900, Walchand Hirachand Doshi got married to one of the Solapur’s most famous banker’s daughter, Jiu Kilachand. He had a daughter Chatur. In an unexpected demise, his wife died during the childbirth. After 13 years, on the recommendation of his family, he married Kastur Mehta.
He was not interested in the traditional family business of cotton trade. So he became a railway contractor for the construction-related jobs. The man was known for his ambition and hardworking nature. People referred him as a guy who wanted to run even before learning to walk. What came as a lucid fact is that, despite very nominal business background, Walchand Hirachand Doshi ran several projects and they all were a booming success. He was a proficient man when it came to meeting deadlines, managing the manpower and raising funds as well.
Opposing the control of the government in some project aspects, Walchand Hirachand Doshi started his own shipyard. Later he went on giving India its first aircraft factory, he knew the potential of mass communication media, hence went on developing mass media means. This helped him to gain public support for his projects.
Walchand Hirachand & India’s Independence
He worked with British hand in hand in various construction related projects. He supported Indian independence movement as well. In the year 1927, he was one of the prime sponsors of the Free Press of India, other sponsors were Annie Besant and M. R. Jayakar. He was the head of the merchant bodies of the whole Bombay and was a keen supporter of Congress as well. In the year 1930, Walchand Hirachand Doshi passed a resolution with backing from merchant bodies for the immediate release of Mahatma Gandhi.
Legacy of Walchand Hirachand Doshi
His company Walchand group of companies was ranked amongst top 10 businesses in the country in the year 1947. SS Loyalty was the first Indian made ship, the ship sailed from Mumbai to London with Walchand Hirachand Doshi himself present on board. Observing this grand endeavour, April 5th is celebrated is National Maritime Day.
Today, Walchand Hirachand’s company Walachandnagar Industries Ltd. is a nuclear equipment and defence equipment manufacturing company. His other prominent works were construction of Walchand studio. He is known as the man who dared to dream and achieved those as well. He ran several charitable trusts and established various educational institutions as well.
Written By: Milan Bhardwaj