Established by Kasturbhai Lalbhai on September 05, 1947 and its first manufacturing plants inaugurated by the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru on March 17, 1952, Atul Ltd. (Atul) is serving its customers across the world for the last seven decades. Siddharth Lalbhai, who nurtured the legacy of ethics in business and trusteeship in governance, spent his entire life in the development of the Company since its inception.
Siddharth Lalbhai was an industrialist and philanthropist. His career spans across decades of incredible work and mengful purpose of serving society.
Siddharth Lalbhai was born in a Jain (Nagarsheth) family of Ahmedabad and was a descendant of Shantidas Jhaveri, a royal jeweller of Mughal emperors. Dalpatbhai Bhagubhai, the great grandfather of Siddharth Lalbhai, was engaged in cotton trade in the 1870s, while his grandfather, Lalbhai Dalpatbhai (1863-1912), established Saraspur Cotton Mills in 1896, thus diversifying the traditional family business of precious gems. His father, Kasturbhai Lalbhai, was an Indian industrialist and philanthropist who continued expanding the family business. He was the founder of various compes that formed the Lalbhai Group (then Kasturbhai Lalbhai Group), which included compes such as Arvind Ltd. and Atul Ltd., that remained under the umbrella of the Group. Kasturbhai Lalbhai was one of the authors of Bombay Plan which included a set of proposals for the development of the post-independence economy of India.
The eldest of the two sons of Kasturbhai and Sharda Lalbhai; Siddharth Lalbhai studied at Ranchhoddas Chhotalal Government High School and Navi Gujarati Shala, Ahmedabad. Later he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Gujarat College, Ahmedabad. He pursued higher studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (formerly Polytechnic Institute of Technology) in the United States of America between 1944 and 1948. There he obtained a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering, studying under Professor Donald Othmer.
On May 16, 1959, Siddharth Lalbhai married Dr Vimla Jhaveri, a surgeon (FRCS) and had three children, Sunil, Swati and Taral.
Siddharth Lalbhai began his career soon after he completed his education as he immediately joined Lalbhai Group in Ahmedabad. After working in different functions, he shifted to Atul village in 1952 to take charge of Atul Ltd. (Atul), a company founded by his father in 1947, which had then commenced its first plants.
His career graduated as he teamed up with Balwantrai Mazumdar, a graduate from London School of Economics and a confidant of his father. Both of them established the first site of Atul spread over 1,200 acres. He supported his father establish three joint venture compes with American Cyanamid (Cyanamid India Ltd.), Imperial Chemical Industries (Atic Industries Ltd.) and Ciba-Geigy (Cibatul Ltd.) in 1947, 1955 and 1960 respectively. He joined the Board of Atul in 1957 and took over as its second Chairman after his father stepped down in 1977.
While Siddharth Lalbhai was pursuing his profession as an industrialist, he did not forget his core passion to serve society. Amongst his various contributions, he established institutions such as Urmi Stree Sanstha in 1953 for empowerment of women, Kaly Shala (a Gujarati medium school in Atul) in 1953, Atul Rural Development Fund (Trust) in 1978 for uplifting the less fortunate and Atul Vidyalaya (an English medium school affiliated with the ICSE) in 1991. He succeeded Morarji Desai as the second Chairman of Shree Nootan Kelav Mandal and helped establish B K M Science College in 1964 in the memory of Balwantrai Mazumdar.
Siddharth Lalbhai passed away on September 13, 1998 at his residence in Atul, Gujarat, leaving behind a legacy of achievements and immense contributions to society. The legacy of Atul too continues to impact several lives in a positive way ever since its inception 70 years back. The confluence of human values with business objectives continues to make a big difference in the society today.
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( With inputs from ANI )
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