Visionary, Leader, Philanthropist…a Real Gem-Remembering Late Shri Arunbhai Mehta

Diamantaire par excellence, a businessman of virtue and champion of the masses, Late Shri Arunbhai Mehta was all of these and more. Here are some memoirs compiled from his great life and work
Visionary, Leader, Philanthropist…a Real Gem-Remembering Late Shri Arunbhai Mehta

He was born in Patan, Gujarat, in January 1940, the son of Ramniklalji Mehta, who was in the diamond business. He grew up with two brothers, Harshadbhai and Dilipbhai, and one sister.
In 1960, he co-founded B. Arunkumar & Co in Mumbai, with his maternal uncle Bhanuchandra Bhansali, and Ramniklal Mehta (1920–2002). In 1970, his brother Dilipbhai Mehta set up Rosy Blue in Belgium.
Mehta was the senior director of Rosy Blue. He was a founding member of the Diamond Exporters Association Ltd, and its vice-president. He was a member of the managing committee of the Bharat Diamond Bourse. For 20 years he was a member of the managing committee of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
It was with profound sadness that the industry read the news about the passing away of Arunkumar R Mehta. Arunbhai, an industry stalwart and highly respected community leader was a guiding force and mentor to many. He was 80 and is survived by his wife Rajnika, son Russell and daughters Amita Samir Mehta and Alpa Nishit Kothari, daughter-in-law Mona, and sons-in-law Samir Mehta and Nishit Kothari, along with many grand and great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brothers Harshad and Dilip Mehta.

End of an Era
The demise of this great visionary and industry veteran at the age of 80 in Girgaum, Mumbai marks the end of era and passing away of a beacon who ensured that diamonds processed in India reached out all across the world and secured admiration for their quality and finesse.
The history of the Indian diamond industry would have been different without Arunbhai’s key contributions. In the late 1970s he was one of the pioneers of its modernization and rapid growth phase, allowing him to not just grow the company he co-founded – Rosy Blue, but also the industry as a whole.
With his vision and business acumen, he was able to seize opportunities but above all else he always prioritized high integrity and business ethics; helping the industry, like Rosy Blue, gain a favourable and trustworthy reputation. His participation and efforts in a number of trade organisations contributed immensely to the growth of the whole industry. He was a member of the Managing Committee of Bharat Diamond Bourse for a long period. He was also associated with the Bombay (now Mumbai) Diamond Merchants Association and a member of the Working Committee of The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council for over 20 years.

Arunbhai will not be remembered only for his business prowess; but over time, his experience, wisdom, honesty and most importantly willingness led to him becoming a mentor and contributing to the training and guidance of several of our country’s leading diamantaires. His approach was practical, simple and effective, leading him to be one of the most sought after advisors and problem solvers - be it for personal or professional issues, and it is testament to his immense humility that he never declined to support someone who sought his counsel. For those who knew him, he was always a phone call away: no problem or discussion was ever delayed or avoided.

Achievements & Accomplishments
Shri Arunbhai Mehta was active in the industry, serving as a member of the managing committee of the Bharat Diamond Bourse and member of the working committee of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) for more than two decades. He also contributed to a number of charities designed to support and promote his local community. He won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the GJEPC in 2007.

Arunbhai lived a life of service which in later years became dedicated to philanthropy. He was the founding-member of the influential body Diamond Exporters Association Ltd. besides being active with the Bharat Diamond Bourse, the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, Rajkamal Rikhabchand Charitable Trust, Bombay Diamond Merchants Association Relief Fund and was involved with other prominent organisations.

Arunbhai supported causes like education and medicine. Many of his endeavours were focused on the growth and development of the Banskantha region, and the Palanpuri community as a whole. Notably, he served as Chairman of Palanpur Samaj Kendra, Mumbai and of Vidyamandir Trust, Palanpur for several years, and he was also associated with Sir Kikabhai Premchand Trust, Banaskantha District Kelavani Mandal and the Gem and Jewellery National Relief Foundation.

Names of associations and trade bodies Late Shri Arun Mehta was affiliated with

  • Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB)
  • Diamond Exporter’s Association Limited (DEAL)
  • Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC)
  • Mumbai Diamond Merchant’s Association (MDMA)
  • Palanpur Samaj Kendra, Mumbai (PSK)
  • Vidyamandir Trust, Palanpur (VMT)
  • All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC)
  • Banaskantha District Kelavani Mandal, Palanpur
  • Brihad Mumbai Vardhman Sthanakvasi Jain Mahasangh
  • Conwest and Manjula S. Badani Jain Hospital, Mumbai
  • Dariyapuri Sthanakvasi Jain Samiti, Ahmedabad
  • Gem & Jewellery National Relief Foundation (GJNRF)
  • Lok Niketan Trust, Palanpur
  • Mahavir Health & Medical Relief Society, Surat
  • Sarvodaya Ashram, Sanali
  • Saurashtra Medical & Educational Charitable Trust, Project Life, Rajkot
  • Shree Vardhaman Sthanakvasi Jain Shravak Sangh (Walkeshwar), Mumbai
  • Shri Mahavir Charitable Trust, Ahmedabad
  • Shri Sacchiyay Mataji Trust, Mumbai
  • Sir Kikabhai Premchand and S.R. Mehta Hospital, Mumbai
  • Vision Foundation India, Mumbai
  • World Jain Confederation, Mumbai
  • Zaveri Mangalji Vamalshi Dispensary - Parikh Hospital, Palanpur

A Saga of Successes
A throwback of an exclusive interview with him in 2007, on the occasion of him winning the Life-time Achievement Award

What is your age, sir ? How were you attracted to this business?
I was born at Patan (N. Gujarat) in January 1940, now I am 67. Apart from our parents, there were four members in the familythree brothers – myself, Harshadbhai and Dilipbhai – and one sister. After studying upto SSC, I joined a college for higher studies. My father, Ramniklalji Mehta was doing some diamond business. His friends advised him to induct me into this business. This changed the course of my life. Subsequently, I got some training in the Ratanchand Laxmichand & Company’s diamond units in Surat and Navsari. For a few months I went to Pondicherry where in my uncle’s firm I got some training for accounts and import business.

When and How did you launch your own diamond business?
Even today I remember well that in 1958 I purchased one diamond for Rs. 25 and sold it at Rs. 27! This was my first brush with this business. Subsequently, I started purchasing –polished gemstones from some units and selling them in the market. This gave me enough experience about assortment and marketing.

When did you start manufacturing activity ?
My maternal uncle Bhanuchandra Bhansali was doing some business in rough diamonds with his son-in-law. He decided to set-up a partnership with me for a diamond cutting unit in Mumbai. This is how we started in 1960 our company – B. Arunkumar & Company and set- up its first tiny manufacturing unit in Mumbai. Initial business activity was quite limited. This is evident from the fact that we purchased rough worth about Rs. 25,000-30,000, cut and polished it and sold the same in the market. This yielded small profit, but added to our confidence.

When did you start business in Antwerp ?
In 1970 Dilipbhai went to Belgium to settle down there. He set-up the Rosy Blue firm there.

When did your firm become a DTCSightholder?
Our firm became a DTC Sightholder in 1969. Thus we started getting rough stones from this all important direct source.

Do you get rough from other producers too ?
There are five major producers of rough in the world at present. Rosy Blue is getting rough from all of them.

When did you start jewellery manufacturing business ?
We turned our attention to this activity around 1985. At present jewellery accounts for the major share of Rosy Blue business.

What is the philosophy of the Rosy Blue Group ?
It has been the philosophy of our group to spend regularly a part of our earnings on education, healthcare and charitable objectives. All members of the Rosy Blue Group share this humanitarian view.

What have been the important milestones in the progress of your Group ?
In 1969 our group obtained DTC’s approval as its Sighthoder. This was a noteworthy event in the Group’s history. Another equally memorable milestone was the opening of its Antwerp office in 1973. On the whole the company’s progress has been smooth without any obstacles. This is a matter of happiness for us.

What about Rosy Blue’s business policy ?
We believe in a business policy that none of our clients should incur a loss. Ours is a family business. As the time passes, senior members step aside encouraging the younger generation to take up more responsibilities.

What are your dreams after achieving such outstanding success?
After achieving this much growth over the last four decades, one does not foresee similar growth prospects in the coming years as no new large diamond mines are coming up. So, while continuing our present activities we are exploring possibilities of diversification into some other areas as well. We are encouraging the younger generation to get the necessary education needed for such other activities. We feel that India provides the best place for such other activities as well.

While prices of Rough continue rising, polished prices seem to be dragging behind. What are the reasons ?
The main reason for this situation is that diamond producers had earlier started the policy of restocking and stepping up supplies to market. All these supplies were cut and polished within a relatively shorter time as the manufacturing capacity had been greatly enlarged during the earlier years. However there has been no corresponding improvement in offtake at the retail level. This has led to considerable accumulations of stock in the pipeline. Once the pipeline gets cleared, prices of polished diamonds are bound to rise like those of all other goods.

Other than diamonds and business, what are your interests?
My other subject of choice is reading.

What is your message to the diamond industry ?
Those who are already established in the business should make room for the new generation in time. Those who are contemplating to enter this business for the first time may do well to remember, capital requirements have gone up considerably in this business. Besides, teamwork is quite necessary for success.

He was my eldest brother, ten years my senior. He was my confidante, partner and buddy in my growing up years. He often treated me like a son, rather than a younger brotherRemembering a Gentleman Par Excellence – A Tribute
Arunbhai’s closest associates pen down their memories associated with him

Dilip Mehta, Brother
Our father, Shri Ramniklal Mehta had a hard childhood and lost his parents when he was just two years of age. As a result, Hiteshbhai’s (of H Dipak & Co.) great grandfather played a great role in bringing up my father.

Arunbhai was wise, not just smart. A smart person gets out of a difficult situation easily, whereas a wise person never lands in a difficult situation. He was my eldest brother, ten years my senior. He was my confidante, partner and buddy in my growing up years. He often treated me like a son, rather than a younger brother. He looked after all of us younger siblings lovingly. Everyone believed that he always took my side during any discussion. I too liked to believe it. But in reality he was truly impartial and when it came to matters of ethics he was totally just. In business, he was a great visionary – he believed in hard work and team spirit. During my learning years, he was my mentor and I looked up to him for sound advice in many cases. He always told me ‘know your numbers well. Never overlook the importance of sound accounting knowledge – you must know your accounts very well. He was a great believer in the power of team effort and therefore nurtured and valued people. These are values I recall to this day – ones which have seen the whole family in good stead in every situation.

He knew how to manage business, personal life and societal commitments better than anyone elseFormer diamantaire and film producer Bharat Shah, a close family friend
Arunbhai used to help everyone in the market. He was revered by the whole diamond trading fraternity, in India and abroad. He was very active in social field. People swore by his philanthropy and till date respect his commitment to the society. He knew how to manage business, personal life and societal commitments better than anyone else. Arunbhai has been the forerunner to take diamond industry to new highs. His visionary attitude and ability to think for the benefit of the whole fraternity are qualities of a great business leader. He was very well respected by all.

He would easily analyse the most complex of issues and offer practical advice and suggestion on how to overcome problemsAshish K. Mehta, Partner, Kantilal Chhotalal
Arunbhai was a visionary, and had anuncanny business acumen rooted in an ethical and humanitarian approach. He led the Rosy Blue group with amazing focus, impeccable integrity and outstanding leadership.

Arunbhai also played a prominent role in steering the Indian diamond industry through these exciting times. At a personal level, his immense contribution lay in training and guiding many of the country’s successful diamantaires, and remained a mentor for many of the next generation. Many of them also recall how he would easily analyse the most complex of issues and offer practical advice and suggestion on how to overcome problems. Arunbhai selflessly dedicated efforts to the growth and sustenance of the industry through his involvement in numerous trade organisations.

He actively participated in a range of charitable organizations, adding immense value through his guidance and leadership. He was a leader sans comparison: his effective, nurturing style successfully unlocked people’s potential and even enthusiasm. He was associated with several organisations in the field of education, healthcare and religion. I had the privilege of working very closely with him.

I worked closely with him particularly in Vidyamandir Trust, Palanpur. For several years we visited Palanpur jointly in the winter and spent a lot of time with the management, staff, parents and teachers. The Vidyamandir family always keenly looked forward to his annual inspiring speech. He was a source of inspiration to all.

He was a person with great clarity of thought and vision. Endowed with uncanny ability to assess problems with great simplicity, he arrived at practical and sustainable solutions. For those who knew him, he was always a phone call away: no problem or discussion was ever delayed or avoided.

He used to be a good guide in various business matters, for which trade leaders used to consult him. He was offered many honorary positions in various associations quite often. But he chose to work behind the scenes, without any titlesAlok Kala, Publisher, Diamond World
I have known Arunbhai since 1975, it is over four decades now. I recall his charitable nature. He was a man of few words. He was known to be forthright and spoke to the point. His concentration on his work and focused attitude was always appreciated. I recall, back in the early 90s when we were working on raising funds for a Cancer hospital in Jaipur, my father wrote to him for a donation, he immediately sent a cheque of Rs five lakhs. It was quite an impressive donation back then. He was a great philanthropist and did not shirk away from any of his responsibilities. He used to be a good guide in various business matters, for which trade leaders used to consult him. He was offered many honorary positions in various associations quite often. But he chose to work behind the scenes, without any titles. His words were greatly revered by the gems and jewellery fraternity across the world.

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