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We bought stake in Dinshaws as we didn’t want a Parsi company to shut down: Jamashp Bapuna

Jamashp Bapuna - Kartik (4)
Jamashp Bapuna (Photo by: Kartik Thakur)

One of the oldest and the largest manufacturers of alcohol, the Bapuna Group, apart from producing their own alcohol beverages, handles the bottling for some of world’s largest liquor conglomerates such as Pernod Ricard, United Spirits, Radico Khaitan and Allied Blenders & Distillers. Bapunas in 2002 diversified by acquiring a stake in popular dairy giant company Dinshaws owned by the Ranas. Today, Jamashp Bapuna is the Director of the Bapuna Group and Joint Managing Director of Dinshaws. Apart from his business, Jamashp takes active participation in the management and activities at Gondwana Club, where he was elected as the President in 2015. In a relaxed chat, Jamashp Bapuna speaks to Nation Next at his office ?Banaz? in Byramji Town, which was once the Bapunas residence before they shifted to their three-acre palatial mansion adjacent Poonam Chambers. Jamashp in the interview speaks how his family business of alcohol trading and manufacturing started and also shares the reason behind acquiring stake in Dinshaws.

Excerpts:

The Bapuna family has a history that spans decades in the alcohol industry beginning with trading and gradually moving to manufacturing of alcohol. How did trading and manufacturing begin?

My grandfather hailed from a small village in Gujarat. When he moved to Nagpur around 50 years back, he use to work for a couple of people and he gradually began his own business. Thereafter, we secured a few tenders which made my father venture into the alcohol business. Our business just grew from there.

The Bapuna Group acquired 50% stake in Dinshaw’s in 2002. Despite having a strong foothold in liquor industry, why did Bapuna group opt for dairy business

Mr Rana, who’s the Managing Director for Dinshaws approached us as he needed our help for his business. Co-incidentally, my grandfathers name was also Dinshaw! When the Ranas approached us, my father immediately offered help because he never wanted a Parsi company to shut down. This is how even I started taking care of the business and eventually we diversified into dairy business.

Ranas have 50% stake in Dinshaw’s and you too are an equal stakeholder in Dinshaws. So, who calls the shots 

For us, it’s like a family so everything is done and decided together. That’s how things work in the long run. If one person decides everything, things don’t work out. It’s like a marriage, where both have to work.

Dinshaws ice cream as a brand didn’t get a beating by either national or international brands like Baskin Robbins, Amul, etc. But Naturals seems to be giving a tough competition in the local market. Does it worry you?

It’s not that we never got a competition. We keep facing competition; it’s just about how we deal with it.  I have a simple philosophy – Don’t let somebody grow so much that they sit on your head. I guess this has worked for us. What Naturals sells in Nagpur is not even 0.001% of what we sell in Nagpur. I wouldn’t say that we have a competition with them in Nagpur. Yes, it is a niche product but it doesn’t worry me, though competition in metro cities is much tougher. But then healthy competition keeps you on your toes and makes you improve.

You say that you would rather see your son pursuing a career in sports, as business is too tough. Why? When a Bapuna says so, doesn’t it give a gloomy picture of business environment? 

I have played club cricket in England and in South Africa too in the past. In fact in South Africa, I had a contract to play cricket for a period of time. But being the eldest of the siblings, and considering our parents mindset and generation, I had to set my priorities. But today, I feel that if my son is interested in sports and excels in it, I don’t mind him pursuing it. Right now hes too much into tennis. One year down the line, if hes still interested in tennis, I might send him to Florida. I’ll be happier if my son makes a career in sports. Our generation has accepted this kind of thinking and mindset, wherein a son doesn’t necessarily need to join his fathers business the moment hes ?business-ready. I want my son to be happy and do what he wants first.

Of late, you have lost a lot of weight. What drove you all of a sudden towards fitness 

Once you have children, you want to be there for them. I would always take it as a joke whenever I visited a doctor for routine checkups and he would tell me that my weight is a problem. But when you see your kids growing, and you want to be with them for long, you have to take a drastic step like this. This has also worked for me in relieving all health complications in life. I feel good about myself. Today, I realize that doctors are not all that stupid; what they say does make sense! (Smiles)

For years you have had an active participation in Gondwana club’s management. You are now the President of the club. What motivates you to be a part of the activities at Gondwana Club? Doesn’t your business take a beating because of your involvement in the club’s management? 

I don’t take Gondwana clubs work as my duty. I do it out of passion and fondness for the club. Nagpur doesn’t have many options in terms of recreation. Over the years, members of Gondwana Club have become a family to me. At the club, we end up meeting so many friends; we see similar faces so it’s like a second home. Doing anything for your home is not work. Also, if you can do something about a place that has given you so much, why not?

Dinshaw’s brand is doing well in Maharashtra?

Today we have our presence in 13 states. Dinshaws business is growing at the rate of 15-18% per year. In today’s business scenario, if you have such statistics, I feel we are progressing.  We don’t spend extravagantly on advertisement. People love our ice cream because of the quality we offer.

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Governance

Dharavi redevelopment to have dedicated areas for manufacturing: Devendra Fadnavis

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi redevelopment will have dedicated areas for manufacturing…

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

Devendra Fadnavis

The Mah Deputy CM says that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

As Dharavi redevelopment has been announced, doubts were raised on whether this locally evolved entrepreneurial hub will retain its spirit.  In a chat on Sansad TV with Sanjeev Sanyal, Member, PM’s Economic Advisory Council and a writer, on an Economic Sutra episode telecast on Nov 6, the Deputy Chief Minister had made it very clear how he foresees the future of Dharavi and Mumbai.

Saying that his government worked on clearing all the bottlenecks, he adds, “We understood that unless we have a place to rehabilitate people, which is nearby Dharavi, this project will not take off. We found out that there is around 42 acres of land which belongs to the Railways. We approached the Central Government and told them that we’ll free up your land. We’ll buy your land and we’ll give you a share in the profit and we entered into a definitive agreement and now they have handed it over to us.”

“The Dharavi Redevelopment project will be the most unique project ever done. In fact, this redevelopment was visualized by none other than Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 but nothing happened – until 2014 when Modiji came and we started governing Maharashtra. The redevelopment will be no less beautiful than BKC. Dharavi is just not a slum but it’s also a great manufacturing cluster, so what we did was that while planning this scheme we have created areas for this entire manufacturing industry along with planning for the rehabilitation of the people. Right now, this entire manufacturing sector is informal, but after this and over time they will come into the formal sector.”

Watch the full interaction here: https://youtu.be/FNeTrm0v0dw

Also, with Mumbai undergoing so many infrastructural changes, questions have been raised about retaining the quintessential character of “aamchi Mumbai,” which apart from being the financial capital of India is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant cities.

Speaking on the land issues, Fadnavis says, “The usable space in Mumbai is very little. It has length, but has limitations on the breadth so taking into consideration all these problems we wanted to design a very robust system for Mumbai for commuters and for vehicles. That’s why the all the new Coastal Road, which will decongest the western side of Mumbai. It will be a ring road type structure along the coast and this Western Expressway carries 60 percent of the Mumbai traffic right, so all that traffic will be mostly accommodated here.”

Commuting in Mumbai is a killer and every day Mumbaikars spend a lot of time on travel. Saying that he wants to reduce travel within Mumbai from anywhere to anywhere to an hour, Fadnavis explains, “Our Metro three is a very unique 40 kilometers of underground Network, which will be the lifeline of Mumbai. It is estimated to carry around 1.7 million passengers per day! All this work will be finished in two or three years and I want that from any place to any place in Mumbai one should reach within less than one hour – that is the planning. We are also trying to integrate the transportation system. Right now, our Suburban Railway is the lifeline of Mumbai. This Suburban Railway carries around 9 million passengers. The new Metro Network which we are creating will be carrying around 7 million or 8 million passengers, almost doubling the current number.”

Adding to this, the Deputy CM says that the 22 kilometers of Sea Bridge that will connect us to the hinterland, “so we have Mumbai, we have new Mumbai and that will be the third Mumbai that will be a land mass which will be bigger than Mumbai with new Mumbai airport. I think the future growth of Mumbai is on that side!”

Also read: Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Governance

Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm…

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm.

Dharavi

Is squalor for cameras, money more important than dignified living for the residents…  

Former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy’s Dharavi comments kicked off a storm when he said on Twitter that Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, ‘is not actually a slum but a tribute to the great entrepreneurial spirit of the weakest and smallest person fighting for his or her livelihood in Mumbai. It is also a model in collective coexistence in one of the toughest cities in the world, where nothing else matters. Not caste. Not faith. Not where you come from. But trust and togetherness.’

While this may be true, what is equally true is the squalor and subhuman conditions that reign supreme in this slum. Netizens felt that Nandy, by romanticizing poverty in this manner, was only feeding poverty porn and tourism. Nandy clarified that he was seeking to keep the spirit of Dharavi alive by “researching the architectural grammar, the cultural history that builds integrated and interdependent societies like Dharavi that have survived and flourished over decades and make that the base for the new redevelopment plans. Not just look at the future but also build in the past.”

The Maharashtra Government had on November 29, opened the financial bids for Dharavi redevelopment project.  While 3 companies Adani Realty, DLF and Naman Group had submitted bids, the Adani Group clinched the project with a INR 5,069-crore bid. The timeline for the entire redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, might take close to 17 years, the rehabilitation of slum dwellers should be complete in seven years. 

Also read: Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Crime

Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Radhika Dhawad | Mumbai
The Bombay High Court said ex-minister Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues.

Anil Deshmukh

The Bombay High Court said, as per prima facie, 74-year-old former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, said that when Deshmukh’s bail plea was moved on medical grounds, then a fresh medical report needed to be called for. 

Singh said, “There is a compilation that has been given now. There are medical papers attached. We need to go through it. Even though this is not a bail application on merit of the case, it is still being circulated under medical issues. He is getting medical treatment as required. Moreover, medical issues are not static. We need a check on what his condition is right now.”

Deshmukh’s advocate Vikram Chaudhari said the senior NCP leader was being treated but has been suffering from several ailments that require constant treatment and care. Chaudhary said, ”He needs to be released. He is a chronic patient.”

Justice MS Karnik said that the court would hear the bail plea on merits. He said, “I am satisfied that we can proceed with the hearing on merits and give it priority. This is my prima facie opinion that priority should be given. One of the medical ailments (that Deshmukh is suffering from) is degenerative.” Deshmukh’s bail plea would now be heard on December 6.

The bench asked Singh whether he was ready to argue on the merits of the case immediately, to which Singh said he would require a week while Chaudhari said that he was ready to argue. However, Justice Karnik said, “We need to give them a fair opportunity.”

Also read: 10 lakh spectators across 50 km; PM Modi makes history with road show for BJP in Ahmedabad

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