Adamjee Haji Dawood

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Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood (30 June 1880 - 27 January 1948)[1] was a renowned businessman and philanthropist of his time in undivided British India and later Pakistan.

The Adamjee name has been a prominent and highly reputed name amongst the business circles of the Indian subcontinent throughout the 20th century.

The House of Adamjee was founded in Burma (now Myanmar) by the illustrious Memon, Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood who was born in 1880 in Jetpur town of Gujarat. Whilst still in his teens, he ventured out to Burma and started operating as an independent businessman. The first few years of his career were spent in rice, matches & jute trade. With his keen business sense and financial acumen, he met with early success.

By 1922, he had accumulated sufficient resources and a strong presence in the commodities markets, enabling him to set up his first industrial venture - a match factory in Rangoon [now Yangon]. In 1927, he returned to India to establish a jute mill in Calcutta. The Adamjee Jute Mills Ltd. was the third jute mill to be set up by an Indian and the first Muslim public company. To capture this emerging niche, Adamjee along with Mr. G.D. Birla of Birla Jute, broke into this monopolistic trade controlled by the East India company.[2]

The founding father of the Adamjee industrial group was not just a businessman, but also an avid educationist and philanthropist. Education of the youth, was a subject very close to his heart, thus he was responsible for financing and helping a number of educational institutions. In addition to that, he also established numerous educational institutions from his own resources.

In recognition for his services to his countrymen, the British government knighted him in 1938.

By the 1940s, Sir Adamjee, as he was then called, had become a prominent figure in the business circles of India and Burma. His recognition was acknowledged by Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Founder of Pakistan), who became a good friend and appointed him advisor to the freedom movement of the Muslims, which eventually led to the creation of Pakistan.

Sir Adamjee at the request of Jinnah, convinced the entire Memon and Gujarati Muslim communities to migrate to Pakistan. With this vision in mind again at the request of Jinnah, he also established two major institutions along with Mr. M.A. Ispahani i.e. The Muslim Commercial Bank Ltd. and the Orient Airways Ltd. The purpose of this was to assist the migration process by providing transport of Muslims to Pakistan and to create banking facilities in the new country.

Once Pakistan was created, Sir Adamjee and his sons established Businesses in both East (now Bangladesh) & West Pakistan. In January 1948, six months after the creation, Pakistan fell in financial difficulties and was in urgent need of funds. On January 24 1948, Jinnah sent an "SOS" to Sir Adamjee who rushed to Karachi on 25th to the present day Governor House and presented a Blank Cheque to Jinnah to save Pakistan from Financial collapse.

Sir Adamjee was then invited by Jinnah to participate in the establishment of the State Bank of Pakistan, it was during this meeting that he suffered an heart attack and later died on the night of January 27, 1948.

Though Sir Adamjee died in the very early days of Pakistan, his dedication lived on in the ideas and ideals passed on to his family. It was this same spirit and dedication that led his eldest son Mr. A.W. Adamjee to spearhead the industrial and financial development efforts of the new country, which was industrially backward. At the time, the Adamjee Group was the only business house of its kind with experience in large scale manufacturing.

In less than two decades, the Adamjee group set up and managed over forty industrial and financial enterprises in the East and West Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Lebanon and United Kingdom. In 1971, due to the ethnic and social differences between the Eastern and Western Pakistan, a Civil war broke out which ultimately resulted in bifurcation of the East wing and creating it into the independent Bangladesh. The newly formed socialist Government of Bangladesh took over control of all major industrial and financial institutions. The Adamjee Family lost all its assets in Bangladesh and were compelled to shift its group headquarters to Karachi.

On the Western front, the Group became a subject of public criticism under the propaganda of anti-trust laws concerning the monopolistic business families of the country. As a consequence of this movement, the greater percentage of West Pakistan Assets were also lost, under the Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto's Nationalization Programs in 1974.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Chronology of Life Achievements of Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood in Souvenir: Launching Ceremony of A Biography of the Merchant Kinght Adamjee Haji Dawood, Karachi 2005 pg 35, 36
  2. ^ http://adamjees.net/home.aspx

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