The Adamjee Legacy
Table of Contents
- The Adamjee Name & Adamjee Haji Dawood (Sir Adamjee)
- Sir Adamjee vs Ivan Krueger and The Adamjee Jute Mills
- Educationalists & Adamjee Get Knighted
- Sir Adamjee and Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Quaid-e-Azam)
- The Blank Cheque
- Sir Adamjee’s Death and A.W Adamjee (The New Leader)
- The Adamjees Complete Restructuring and the Adamjee Foundation
- The Quaid’s Words on Adamjee
The Adamjee name has been a prominent and highly reputed name amongst the business circles of the Indian subcontinent throughout the 20th century and is currently one of the largest and the most diversified group of companies in Pakistan.
The House of Adamjee was founded in Burma (Now Myanmar) by the illustrious Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood. Born in 1880 in a town of Gujarat, India called Jetpur, Sir Adamjee ventured out to Burma and started operating as an independent businessman, spending the first few years of his teenage life in rice, match & jute trade. With his keen business sense and financial acumen, he was to meet immense success ahead.
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 which he took on Ivar Krueger, the Swedish Match Giant, a feat that was deemed impossible. His assets however were nationalized in Burma due to Government policies and so in 1927, he returned to India to establish a jute mill in Calcutta. The Adamjee Jute Mill Ltd. was the third jute mill to be setup 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. Later the India-Pakistan partition then took place, meaning all his assets in India were nationalized once again and so Sir Adamjee moved to Pakistan and used his knowledge and previous experience to create in East Pakistan the biggest jute mill in the World “The Adamjee Jute Mill” which was after his death run by his eldest son and next Chairman and mastermind of the Adamjee Group A.W Adamjee along with his brothers Zakaria and Gul Mohommad Adamjee.
The founding father of the Adamjee industrial group was not just a businessman, but also a passionate educationist and philanthropist. Education of the youth was a subject very close to his heart, thus he along with his sons Abdul Wahid, Zakaria and Gul Mohommad were responsible for financing and developing a number of educational institutions. In addition to that, they established numerous top educational institutions from their own resources such as Adamjee Science College, Lady Mariam School, Adamjee Cantonment Public School and Sir Adamjee Institute College. In recognition for his services to his countrymen and his philanthropy the British government knighted him in 1938. Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood is known to be the father of education in Memon society and was also the founder of the Memon Educational & Welfare Society. A.W Adamjee also served as President of the society for almost twenty years from 1949 to 1968 after which he voluntarily retired; highlighting that the Society belonged to the entire society. The motive behind his retirement was that he didn’t want the Society to be a monopoly but instead one which belonged to everyone.
By the 1940's 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 become a good friend and appointed him advisor to the freedom movement of the Muslims, which eventually led to the Creation of Pakistan. Jinnah held Adamjee in exceptionally high regard and he was one of the crucial pioneers in Pakistan’s freedom from India. During the partition movement Jinnah depended on Adamjee for financial aid and collecting contributions and stated “If we had a dozen men like Sir Adamjee, Pakistan would have been achieved earlier”.
Sir Adamjee at the request of Jinnah, convinced the entire Memon & Gujarati Muslim communities to migrate to Pakistan. With this vision in mind again at the request of Jinnah he established “The Muslim Commercial Bank Ltd. and along with Mr. M.A. Ispahani created Orient Airways Ltd. (Now PIA)”. The purpose of this was to assist the migration process by providing transport for Muslims to Pakistan and to create banking facilities in the new country. Adamjee and Isphahani also served and funded Quaid-e-Azam’s Muslim League.
Once Pakistan was created Sir Adamjee and his sons established Businesses in both East (Now Bangladesh) & West Pakistan. In January 1947, Pakistan fell in financial difficulties and was in urgent need of funds because it was promised 750 million rupees from the Indian and British Exchequer; (a plan strategized by Viceroy Lord Mountbatten) however Pakistan only received a small amount. Costs and expenses of sheltering the refugees that were coming in masses kept rising with no money to pay the armies salaries and the new nation of Pakistan was on the verge of bankruptcy so Jinnah sent an "SOS” message with Finance Minister Ghulam Mohommad to look for Adamjee. Even though there was chaos going on because of migration, Ghulam Mohommad searched and found Adamjee with whom he discussed the matter at the Palace Hotel in Karachi. Sir Adamjee rushed to Karachi the next day after speaking to his banker M.A.Habib and told Ghulam Mohommad “your problem is solved”. Singlehandedly Sir Adamjee financed the new nation of Pakistan by putting together a bridge finance which he secured on his personal assets. He presented to the Governor House and Jinnah a Blank Cheque to save Pakistan from Financial collapse which Sir Adamjee is remembered for today.
In January 1948 Sir Adamjee urged Jinnah that Pakistan was in need of a State Bank and on his advice it was created and so he went to the opening of the Pakistan State Bank. It was during this meeting that he suffered a heart attack and later passed away on the night of January 27th, 1948.
Though Sir Adamjee passed away in the very early days of Pakistan, his dedication lived on in the ideas and principles that passed on to his family. “He was a loyal Muslim and rendered great service in our struggle for Pakistan. His loss will be felt all the more now, when having achieved our goal we need his services for building Pakistan. His death will leave a Gap in Muslim Business Community which will be difficult to fill. His death is a National Loss to Pakistan” said Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Quaid-e-Azam). It was his same spirit and dedication that led his eldest son Mr. Abdul Wahid Adamjee to spearhead the industrial and financial development efforts of the new country which was industrially backward. At the time the Adamjee Group was one of the only business houses of its kind with experience in large scale manufacturing.
In less than two decades, the Adamjee Group with the influential leadership of Sir Adamjee and A. W Adamjee setup and managed over forty industrial and financial enterprises in East and West Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Lebanon and United Kingdom.
In 1971, due to the ethnic and social differences between 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 during separation including the “Adamjee Jute Mill”, tea businesses, vegetable oil, three textile mills, tractor manufacturing, and particle board business to name some and was compelled to shift its group head quarters to Karachi.
On the Western front, the Group became a subject of government criticism which decided to nationalize monopolistic business families of the country. As a consequence of this movement the greater percentage of their West Pakistan Assets were also lost under the Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto's Nationalization Programs in 1974. A few of the companies that were nationalized include Muslim Commercial Bank, Orient Airways (Now PIA), Adamjee Sugar Mills, Adamjee Life Insurance and Adamjee Science College.
Originally nationalized in Burma and India along with the later nationalizations in Lebanon, East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) and now West Pakistan the Adamjees lost over sixty companies, leaving them with Adamjee Industries: Adamjee Cotton Mills (Now Al-Karam Textiles), Adamjee Paper Board Mills and Adamjee Chemical Works and had to restructure.
The Adamjee’s had to restructure after the set-backs they faced from different nationalizations and so started diversifying even further, going into newer fields and industries. Presently the group concentrates the bulk of its business in Pakistan with a wide range of industrial and commercial activities like Petrochemicals, Chemicals, Paper, Rubber and other raw material agencies, Polymers, Mining, Power Generators, Engineering, Investments, Pharmaceuticals, Adamjee Insurance (largest and only international insurance company of Pakistan with over 65 local and international offices), Highway Consultancy, Mutual Funds, Hose Manufacturing, International Trading, Construction, Ducting and plastics to name some. The group is also on the verge of entering the fast growing and exciting areas of Food Products and Waste and Raw Water Treatment services.
The Adamjee Foundation is also one of the largest foundations in Pakistan and the trust has been maintained in order to make charitable donations to institutions and also set up their own such as The Adamjee Eye Hospital, Lady Mariam Adamjee Girls School, Higher Education Academic Center in IBA and scholarships to name a few. With further growth and diversification plans, the upcoming times should be exciting ones for the Adamjees in both business and charity.
Having successfully gone through that phase of re-construction and re-organization, The Adamjee Group is again fast making for its stature of yore.
QUAID’S WORDS ON ADAMJEE
Quaid-e-azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his Condolence message on the death of Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood expressed:
A. “He was a loyal muslim and rendered great service in our struggle for
B. During the partition movement: “If we had a dozen men like Sir Adamjee,
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah