My dearest father and Sheth Saab, as he was fondly known to all, was truly a guide, a great visionary, an idol, a pillar of strength not only to me as a father, but also to everyone who were part of his family, social and business life.
He used to often share his life anecdotes with me on different occasions —while driving, while eating, while at work, anywhere. His first salary, first high-class shirt bought from Deepsons, first perfume, going to Rashtrapati Bhawan by cycle to handover a letter to President Dr Rajendra Prasad, all are the memories he cherished.
He always was an eager and quick learner. He used to do all work of accountants, banking, marketing, during his first job at Indo Europa at Chandni Chowk, even staying awake for the whole night. He was a ‘Sheth’ right from those days and used to tell his boss that one day he will be at his boss’s seat.
His boss was very happy with him when he first started his own business in 1963 at Daryaganj, New Delhi under the brand Printograph and later Daya. He had a strong energetic team who were literally controlling whole of India with offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Guwahati and soon all over world.
He had a dynamic personality who started with government presses and then spread his business wings in 45 countries worldwide, leaving the mark of Made in India. His international presence with state of art machine was last displayed at Drupa 2016.
He had fond memories of his good old days, especially of Ranchi, from where he started his business; how he used to travel with single round train ticket covering all of India; how he spent sleepless nights at waiting rooms to save overnight hotel; how he used to deal with Kolkata government employees with just one cup of kullad tea; his expert service person Watanchandji; how the days of Emergency were his best business period; how he contributed to literacy in Kerala with supply of two colour printing machine, one stitching and one cutting machine in every district to be run by school children so that they know the value of books and education; how he set up of office in Guwahati way back in 1976; spending evenings with his colleagues/ business friends watching movies back-to-back in Bhopal and other places.
Just recently on 7-8 June 2017, he visited Guwahati and met his old friends, visited all places, which gave him much satisfaction. Many of his customers, business associates, and friends had the opportunity to hear such incidents from him.
Competition was never considered as blockage, but he was friends with everyone. He had no animosity with anyone. He had a very soft corner for anyone who would approach him for any help. He generously devoted his time for consultation to all. He held fingers of many of industry players who are on the top today. He was a renowned personality and people from all over the world are mourning his absence. We cannot have any other person as a true leader like him. He achieved all what he wanted in life.
Challenges to produce custom-made machines were always welcome by him. Nothing gave him more satisfaction than highest standards of quality and something which he designed and created himself. His passion to innovate led him to success.
He always professed Made in India and worked hard to put India on the global map. His philosophy was, “if Europeans or Chinese can do it, then why not we Indians?” He always dreamt big. He used to look upon all successful people as his idol. He had ambition of bringing various Indian printing organisations under one umbrella.
He was one of the founders of IPAMA, which is the strongest association of manufacturers in India. He has always selflessly worked for the benefit of the industry at large. Right from the day IPAMA was founded in 1988 until today, he was actively engaged it as founder, GC member, secretary, and president. PrintPack India 2017 was his biggest achievement. Under his presidentship, the show generated record-breaking business and overwhelming responses from visitors and exhibitors in spite of demonetisation. It was his Lifeline. Time was not a constraint for him for any kind of work. His energy and zeal could not be matched by any 30s or 40s person. He always brimmed with ideas to promote Indian industry. Everyone was in awe of his personality, and also as a true down to earth, humble human being.
Some of his credentials include IPAMA Lifetime achievement award in 19 January 2009; President, IPAMA 2016-17; 2006-2008; President, Asia Print, May 2017, Founder Member, Global Print, NPES Global Leadership Print Award 2017.
He was also actively engaged in activities of Gujarati Samaj in Delhi. He also was a backbone of our family. He never missed to share his time with family. We often used to go on family vacations overseas and India, which was pre-planned one year in advance, such meticulous was he. He was a child with his grandchildren and a true guide and friend with his children — Neeraj, Sonal and Anjali. He was a very caring and helpful husband for Meenakshi, a fine artist, a very good cook and an avid food lover who relished from all shores.
He has truly carved me and my brother Neeraj Sheth into gemstones. It’s truly a great responsibility shouldered upon us to continue his great legacy. He used to literally keep me on my toes 24/7, which has moulded me to what I am today. I have learned many nuances of business through his experiences and on the job training by him. He had immense faith in me and his last words to me were, “Sonal, you are great.”
He felt handicapped without me, and so was he for me. We were literally inseparable. He was my God. If he said its night during daytime, it was night for me. He had a dream of setting up a tea café in mountains, where tea will be served free of cost. Guests have to just come and chat and share their life experiences. Recently, during his last business trip on 8 July 2017, he was wearing his favourite yellow shirt while flying back on Jet Airways and airhostess complemented his personality to be of a hero. He was truly a ‘Hero’ in all senses.
He fondly wished to celebrate in grandeur his 75th birthday this year and achievement of being elected as president of ASIA PRINT. We had all the plans in place for the celebration in July 2017. Ironically, he left all of us in the same time. He always said, though I may not have earned money but definitely my name should always be remembered for the selfless service to industry at large. Today, I am proud to learn the kind of respect, deep love, and affection the industry has bestowed upon him.
Through this medium, I request all the industry leaders and fellows to continue with his vision and leadership and a true tribute to him will be fulfilling his jobs half done. The entire industry should stand together to achieve his dreams.
Don’t grieve for me, for now, I am free
To follow the path God laid for me
I took his hand when I heard him call
And bid farewell and left it all
I couldn’t stay another day
Tasks left undone must stay that way
A different realm, a peace of mind
My spirits free on the sands of time
My parting’s left a void, I know
Release me, let my spirit flow
A friendship shared, a laugh, a tear
I am always there, though not too near.