Success Story- Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi (11 November 1896 – 3 November 1969)

Also Called ‘The American Gandhi” founder Of USV Ltd ,the Indian Pharma giant.

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USV Private Limited (formerly USV Limited) is an Indian multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company based in Mumbai, India. The company was founded by  V.B.Gandhi and Leena Tewari , his granddaughter.

The company is focused on the development of small-molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients along with custom research services for drug development.

Balkrishna Gandhi was born to the family of a vegetable vendor on 11 November 1896 . He belonged to a community called “Konkanastha Sangameshwari Vaishya Wani Samaj”, a group of traders from the Konkan. Vithal’s father Balkrishna Gandhi was a humble vegetable vendor from Ratnagiri. V.B. Gandhi was nicknamed “American Gandhi” because he returned to India to serve the masses after receiving education abroad.

Mr.Gandhi received his early education at Nago School in Ratnagiri, his family lived at Pimpalwadi.

V.B. Gandhi arrived in Mumbai in 1910 after being unable to continue his education at Nago Public school due to lack of funds.Later, he got admission to Wilson High School with sponsorship from philanthropic community .

In 1913, Vithal completed his matriculation and secured a seat in Wilson College located on Marine Drive. Since the sponsorship did not cover college expenses, Vithal funded his college fees by tutoring other students.

Later, V.B. Gandhi enrolled himself in Columbia University in 1919 for a master’s degree in Economics, and completed his course in 1921.During his student days V.B.Gandhi undertook an editorial role for Young India, a journal founded by Lajpat Rai. He also wrote for “The Willsonian” his college magazine.

V.B. Gandhi’s initial business venture was an investment he made along with his friend, Shantilal Parekh, in the business of cashew imports which wiped out his entire savings and forced him to return to India.

On his return, he began working as a professor at Wilson College. During the same time he continued his association with his friend Shantilal Parekh, and together they managed to secure contracts for trade in medical products and radio accessories. Due to expanding business the need to source more funds forced Vithal to travel overseas and raise necessary capital.

Vithal and Parekh got their venture incorporated and named it “American Products Company Ltd.”. This was one of the first corporations of India. Vithal travelled to the US for sourcing business for a period of one year and on his return he found misappropriation of company funds by Parekh.

Parekh was made to exit the company and Vithal took the reins of the corporation into his own hands and paid of American creditors in the years to come. The company continued to grow and in 1932 acquired the agency for Atomidine from Dr. Sunker Bhisey.

Vithal began to connect with other corporations to add to the list of agencies to his company. USV&P Inc. welcomed his queries and registered in India considerable number of patents including special medications for diabetes which were imported by American Products Company Ltd. With this V.B. Gandhi became the pioneer in India in field of unique pharmaceutical products. In 1942, V.B. Gandhi became a member of the Indian Merchants Chamber.

Soon after India achieved independence and V.B. Gandhi had helped in setting up a sound state transport system, his business began to focus on pharmaceuticals.

In 1947, due to import restrictions and tight currency conversion norms, V.B. Gandhi requested USV&P Inc. to permit the manufacture of some of their products in India, which was however rejected at the time. The focus on pharmaceuticals had begun to emerge shaping the future of the company.

Vithal’s son Arvind joined his father in business in 1952. USV&P Inc. had proposed to send bulk containers of their medications to India, which would be packed into smaller packs by American Products Company Ltd. Later after much persuasion USV&P agreed to transfer technology for manufacturing to India. Gradually, Vithal and Arvind Gandhi established a manufacturing unit to manufacture USV&P Inc.’s products in India.

In the Year 1960, U.S.Vitamins & Pharmacuticals Corporation (India) Ltd. was incorporated with equal share holding between USV&P and the Gandhi family. V.B. Gandhi handed over the reins of the business to Arvind Gandhi in the year 1960.

This is the journey how USV Ltd was formed.

V.B.Gandhi did not restrict himself to business only,rather he continued to serve the society.

He was actively involved in many projects as a municipal corporator. His major contributions were towards Vaitarna Dam, the takeover of BEST from the British and the execution of the State Transport networks. Vithal realized the importance of good transport for the common man and was instrumental in the take-over of BEST from the British in 1948.

A statutory body of nine persons was appointed, of which Vithal was one, to manage the affairs of the BEST.

Analysing the problems of Sewri, Vithals’ own constituency, where workers had no mode of transport to return to their villages, he proposed a well-researched and detailed network for state transportation. The recommendations were eventually incorporated and the State Transport buses were launched. Vithal was appointed Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority. His contribution to the transport system received praise from the state and central leaders.

n 1951, V.B. Gandhi became the unanimous choice for the Bombay mayor and was to succeed S.K. Patil who had held the office for the past two terms and was keen on a third. He requested Vithal to relinquish the offer which he gracefully accepted and turned down the offer to become Bombay’s’ new Mayor. In lieu of this S.K. Patil had promised Vithal a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha election in 1952. Vithal was to contest elections from Bombay city, North. The region was a strong communist foothold and Vithal’s victory came as a pleasant surprise to the entire party. V.B. Gandhi was a senior member of the Indian delegation for E.C.A.F.E. (Economic Conference for Asia and the Far East). It was Vithal who suggested that the Indian Taxi’s should sport the colours of black and yellow so that people could easily identify them, the idea appealed to Jawaharlal Nehru and was put into effect. V.B. Gandhi was a respected Parliamentarian and was a regular invitee to Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday hosted at Teen Murti. Biographical Works

Connect at- success@knowledgewithvivek.education

Source- “Beyond Pipes and Dreams“.Biography of V.B.Gandhi written by her grand daughter Leena Gandhi Tewari.

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