DELHI HINDUSTANI MERCHANTILE ASSOCIATION
History 1893 to 1918
Delhi Hindustani Merchantile Association is an association of Cloth Traders, Textile Mill Owners, Bankers, Transporters and Importers working from more than 125 years. DHMA has got a history of more than 125 years but the official records are available only from 1893 when DHMA came into force on papers. Its formation was during the British rule in India. In the British rule the name Dehli Hindustani Merchantile Association was a matter of Pride as using the word HINDUSTANI in British rule was for an association was really daring and commendable for which we traders will never forget the dareness of our forefathers.
Probably DHMA is the only Association in India which is having its own written Constitution from 1893 and still working on the written Constitution till today. The Constitution of DHMA is so strongly made by our forefathers that till today all the other Associations in any trade follow the Constitution of DHMA. The constitution is being amended from time to time due to necessary requirements of the trade.
Textile trade has always been the backbone of Indian economy. As in the British rule the Government ruled all the states of India. The Indian cloth trade attracted attention of the British Textile Industrialists who realized that Indian Cloth Trade has lot of potential.
In those days handloom manufacturers captured most of the Indian Cloth Business. British Manufacturers established Mills (mechanized system of manufacturing cloth) and made Manchester the biggest cloth manufacturing centre in Britain. The trend was followed by Germany, France Italy and other European Countries.
These foreign mills started selling their fabrics in India by setting up offices in Delhi. In those days most of the cloth was distributed in India through Delhi. Delhi had its own cloth distribution Character. It was not possible for Foreign Mills to regulate the whole cloth trade. So they adopted the existing distribution Character of Delhi and started selling their cloth in India through distribution cloth system of Delhi. They use to get orders of cloth through Indent forms filled by the Textile Traders from Delhi and other territories of India and supply imported cloth accordingly.
It was natural for disputes to arise in such a large trading system. Around 1886-87 a need to solve these disputes between cloth community arose. According to the available information in around 1890 disputes were used to be solved by Seth Snehi Ram in the capacity of Panch from his shop from Katra Asharfi through arbitration. His decisions regarding the disputes were generally acceptable. Due to the pressure of work and business traders preferred to solve disputes through mutual understanding and arbitration instead of going to Court for business related disputes.
This system of solving disputes through Panch was effective but traders worried that if in future if effective Panch will not be available the whole system of arbitration will flop. Shri Ramlal Khemka son of Shri Snehi Ram wanted to evolve a system of arbitration of solving disputes among the parties.
A Delhi Cloth Committee named Dehli Hindustani Merchantile Association was established in later half of 1893 with the support of Seth Snehi Ram, Seth Ram Prasad, Lal Beni Prasad, Seth Bakshi Ram, Lala Ganesh Dass, Lala Banarsi Dass and many others. After the formation of DHMA Disputes between cloth trade community were settled by DHMA through its President and Secretary but if Parties were not satisfied with the judgment they could take the dispute to Court of Law but with the permission of DHMA.
In the former meeting of association Lala Banasi Dass was nominated as President, Seth Snehi Ram, Secretary and Lala Ganesh Dass Ji, Joint Secretary. After the death of Lala Banarsi Das his son Lala Beni Prasad Ji was elected President. The first annual report of the association was published in 1914.
Traders could sell or purchase or indent the cloth only after becoming the member of DHMA. Association use to give Indent forms to the traders, only after filling indent form traders could get cloth for selling in the market. This was the reason why offices of foreign Mills also became members of Dehli Hindustani Merchantile Association. Along with the traders, banks, transporters of Delhi, banks, transporters from Agra, Amritsar, Kanpur and other north Indian cities also became members.
In the meantime British Traders formed another organization Peace Goods Association. Only importers were its members. Their members also had to take indent form from DHMA for purchase of fabric so they were also dependent on DHMA for trading. DHMA was still the effective Association for Cloth manufacturers, traders and transporters. Executive of Peace Goods Association had four British Traders, Two Muslims and six Hindus. This racial nature of executive and some problems in the functioning this organization were unable to work for too long and finally came to an end.
DHMA was systematically working and through elections on February 2, 1914 traders formed the executive committee with Seth Snehi Ram Ji - President, Seth Ramlal Ji Khemka- Vice President, Seth Beni Prasad Ji- Secretary, Seth Bakshi Ram Ji- Joint Secretary, Shri Kanahiya Lal Ji- Treasurer. Seth Ramlal Ji Khemka use to devote most of his time in systemic working of the Association.
After the death of Seth Snehi Ram Ji his son Seth Ramlal Ji Khemka became the President. On elections held on April 23, 1918 the executive committee was Seth Ram Lal Ji Khemka- President, Lala Jagannath & Seth Laxmi Narayan Gadodia - Vice President, Rai Sahib Lala Gurprasad Kapoor- Secretary, Seth Kedar Nath & Seth Bakshi Ram – Joint Secretary, Lala Ram Richpal – Treasurer. Seth Ramlal Ji Khemka served the association as President for 24 years 1918- 1942.
This was the time when due to World War-I import of cloth came to an end. This led to encouragement of production of indigenous cloth and Indian Textile Mills flourished. DHMA was the only one which was smoothly working in such difficult times also.
World War-I created a problem in the working of British Cloth producers, they could not sell cloth in their own name. They opened shops in the name of Indian Importer and started textile trade. These shops were the competitors with Indian traders.
Association could not tolerate this so they started the Boycott Movement of these foreign traders. As a result they had to close shops. British Government pressurized DHMA to stop boycotting foreign traders but DHMA did not take back their Boycott Movement.