Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear.”
Shri Ram Panjwani was born on 22nd October 1929 in an upper middle class Sindhi family in Sukkur, the third largest city of Sindh province, situated on the west bank of Indus River in Pakistan. Soon after, his father Shri Seth Bal Chand migrated to India to set up family business at Haridwar.
In 1936, Mr. Panjwani was admitted to a local primary school known as ‘Tatwala School’ which had a total of 40 students and only 2 teachers. The tuition fee was only Rs. 0.03 per month but the students were expected to do domestic chores of the teachers. Such was the miserable state of education in our country back then! In class III, he was admitted to Municipal High School and completed his senior secondary education in 1948-49.
In the same year he got married to Santosh, but marriage did not deter him from pursuing his higher education. In 1950, he took admission in Lucknow University to pursue his graduation, but on account of unfavorable circumstances, he was compelled to leave studies and assist his father in propelling family business.
Later on, he took an insurance agency to augment his family income and was appointed by the company as Special Area Agent. This taught him that hard work has no alternative as he began to spread his circle to Delhi – Bombay – Lucknow – Kanpur and other nearby places.
The family business was timber trade. Seth Balchand used to purchase forest lease in Tehri Garhwal and sell timber obtained through lumbering in the open market. Mr. Panjwani took up serious interest in this and widely traveled across this area on foot to know each nuance of the business. With sufficient financial resources now, he expanded business to Kumaon and Himachal Pradesh. Within 10 years of sheer hard work and labour, Panjwani & Co. became to be known as leading forest lessee in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
Seth Balchand died at the young age of 56 in 1960. Being the elder son, the onus of looking after the entire family fell on Mr. Panjwani’s young shoulders. In 1961, he contested election for Municipal Commissioner of Haridwar as a Congress candidate and lost by just 01 vote. Having lost the election, Mr. Panjwani continued to remain an active Congress supporter and was now well known with the state and central ministers, which enhanced his influence in the society. During 1960-61, he came in contact with Shree Shree Maa Anandmayee and went on to become a very close and prominent devotee of Maa. Mr. Panjwani worked for Maa’s SANGHA as Treasurer for about 35 years continuously. It is this profound association that led him to establish Maa Anandmayee Memorial School at this remote location where Maa often retired during her days of ‘maun’.
In 1965, he launched a Motor & General Finance Company at Dehradun, which became a prominent company paying the highest amount of taxes. In the same year, he purchased a large farm from Maharaja Tehri (also a devotee of Maa) and formed a Co-operative Society to transform this barren piece of land into a high yielding territory for sugar cane & paddy.
In 1971, he contested elections for the candidature of Hardwar Municipal Board as a Jan Sangha candidate and again lost by 01 vote. Thereafter, as per Maa’s directions, he quit politics and devoted himself entirely to business and other social activities. In 1977, the Government nationalized forest business and hence Mr. Panjwani was compelled to shift base to Jammu & Kashmir. Mr. Panjwani took big forest leases there and gave stiff competition to local timber merchants until the J & K Government also decided to nationalize forest trade.
Post this, Mr. Panjwani shifted focus towards Haryana for Timber business and explored alternative business propositions. He was a man with tremendous business acumen and strong set of values, which in the long run kept him in good stead as he went on to become the leading ACC and Bharat Petroleum Dealer across this region.
Few are aware that Mr. Panjwani was an excellent Tennis player in times when the playing facilities were counted few. He played numerous matches with Thompson College, Roorkee (now IIT) and participated in the UP Lawn Tennis Tournament in individual capacity for many years. He was closely associated with the BHEL employees and this camaraderie led him to represent BHEL in the IMA Tennis Tournaments year after year.
An extremely amiable and hospitable personality, Mr. Panjwani had a charitable bent of mind with a genuine concern for the society at large. He undertook umpteen philanthropic initiatives to affect people’s lives and bring about positive & concrete changes in society. As a social worker, he started many activities for the civil society of Hardwar. His contributions towards construction of public utility complexes like ‘dharamshalas’, cremation grounds and toiles are well known to all at Haridwar.
Mr. Panjwani occupied various coveted posts in non-profit organisations like the Rotary Club wherein he served as President for a brief period. He served as the Vice President of Ramkrishan Mission Sevashram Hospital for nearly 60 years. He also served as a Trustee and Secretary of Avdhoot Chetan Dev Kutia for 18 years and the President of Sindhi Society of Haridwar for almost the same length of time. He continued to remain the President of Sindh Panchayat Dharamshala and Secretary of Panjwani Charitable Trust, Ganga Mata Eye Hospital Trust and the Nar Singh Bhagwan Trust until his very last.
A gentleman par excellence, he was a strict taskmaster and a disciplined human being who faced the vagaries of life with valour. He was the epitome of sheer hard work and dedication and the never say die attitude, coupled with the profound source of energy left people quarter of his age stunned. He was a visionary and progressive human being who went about his tasks without much fuss. He paid his taxes with utmost honesty and adhered to commitments as a responsible citizen of India. He had a crystal clear heart, devoid of any malice, which led him to play each role of his life with near perfection. He was a man so complete, yet so humble and considerate.
Mr. Panjwani left for his heavenly abode on 24th April leaving behind a rich harvest of memories and values to cherish, honour and emulate.
Time Passes, Memories Stay and in the end our deeds protect us from oblivion’s curse!