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Surajmal Lallubhai Mehta (1880-1932)

Surajmal Lallubhai is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of the diamond business in India, and was one of the first Palanpuris to set up a diamond firm in Mumbai.

 

He arrived in the city of Mumbai at the tender age of 15, and by 1895 established his own jewellery firm by the name Surajmal Lallubhai & Co.

Due to his special qualities and dedication, the firm progressed very rapidly. Over time, Surajmalbhai opened branches in Mumbai, Rangoon, Kolkata and Chennai, and later even spread his business dealings to Antwerp. So revered was he for his determination, hard work, adherence to truth and honesty and other values that he was popularly known as “Alla” (meaning God).


He was not merely focused on his own progress, but was equally concerned about helping the youth from his home town. He used to provide them with free food and shelter as well as help them to find work suited to each individual’s ability. Slowly the youth from Palanpur started establishing themselves in Zaveri Bazaar in Mumbai. Through his patronage, nearly 200 to 300 Palanpuri youth set up their own businesses, and provided the base from which the community grew to become the drivers of India’s leading position in the world’s diamond markets today. Present day diamantaires are indebted to him.

Though Surajmalbhai settled in Mumbai, he never lost contact with Palanpur, and made it a practice to spend 30 days every year in his home town. He was the pioneer in establishing the Zaveri Mangalji Vamalshi Hospital, Palanpur Female Hospital, Shree Jain Shisushala (children’s school), Vyayamshala (gymnasium) and many other charitable institutions in Palanpur.


Despite his wealth and business success, Surajmalbhai was a staunchly religious, simple and straight forward person, who observed regular ‘maun’ in the first half of the day, spent three hours on business dealings, and then devoted time for religious study and social work.

 

He was also a linguist, well versed in six languages and had a personal library which had a huge collection of rare and precious books in English, French, Sanskrit, Burmese and Persian.

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