DELHI HINDUSTANI MERCHANTILE ASSOCIATION
History 1944 to 1968
The association got registered on 5 February 1946 under Union Trade Union Registration Act 1938.
On August 15, 1947 as a result of agreement India was divided. Lacs of refugees came to Delhi and started textile trading for their livelihood. Katras of Chandni Chowk became the textile trading centers.
In 1947 control was imposed on textile. A delegation with the support of Lala Ram Charan Agarwal and in the leadership of Lala Gurprasad Kapoor met Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi realized the adverse effect of control on textile and came to the annual general meeting of DHMA on December 14, 1947. Mahatma Gandhi assured the textile traders to give his full support. But unfortunately on January 30, 1948 he was assassinated.
In 1949 elections of DHMA Rai Saheb Guprasad Kapoor was elected the President and Shri Brij Bhushan Saran the Secretary. The adverse effect of control on textile was not only on textile traders of Delhi but whole India. The control policy became rigid and quota of 30000 bales which Delhi got as quota was also stopped.
To create an impact on the government association organized an All India Textile Traders Conference on 23, 24 December 1947. President of DHMA Lala Gurprasad Kapoor presided over the conference and President of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) Shri Lalji Malhotra inaugurated it. In the conference it was decided that if government will not agree to the demands of traders they will go on strike and if required on hunger strike. DHMA is the founder member of FICCI also and played a great role in the formation of FICCI.
Minister of Industries and Civil Supply Shri Shyama Prasad Mukerjee as informed about this, but he did not gave a satisfactory reply. Helpless traders kept token strike on 2.1.1950. As per decision when no response was received from government till January 15, 1950 traders went on indefinate strike from January 16, 1950. Strike got good support from newspapers. Assembly member Shri Deshbandhu Gupta called it unfortunate for the country and arranged their meeting with Minister of Industries and Civil Supply Shri Shyama Prasad Mukerjee. He appealed to traders to call off their strike and assured them a proper action in this. Soon Delhi traders got permission to supply textile to nearby states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh etc. Central Government also gave permission to supply stitched cloth. But the permit for this could easily be obtained after recommendation from the association without which it was difficult to get permit.
Textile Mills had the right to print rates on fabric. But this policy was misused. Mills had no practical base of printing rates on cloth; they use to print whatever prices they wanted to. To show that mills do not print correct rates and consumers are exploited an exhibition was organized. The finance and civil supply minister Shri Harekrishan Mehtab visited the exhibition and agreed that rates are printed in incorrect manner and assured corrective measures for it.
Permit for supply of stitched clothes to nearby states could be obtained only after recommendation from the association. Traders started misusing this permission and use to supply unstitched textile in the bales of stitched cloth. To control this Government and Association together appointed Lala Ugrasen Singhal to check the bales before dispatch.
On January 26, 1950 India was declared ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’. Government decided to celebrate 26 January as Republic Day. The President in Ceremonial Parade drove out of the Government House (now Rastrapati Bhawan) in a 35-year-old coach specially renovated for the occasion bearing the new emblem of Ashoka's capital and drawn by six sturdy Australian horses. The route was very small presently known as Janpath with a parade of 3000 officers and jawans of all the three Armed Services of India and the Police with massed bands had taken positions for the Ceremonial Parade.
Association requested the Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru to extend the route of parade so that common citizens of India also get a chance to see the Republic Day Parade. Chandni Chowk had been the prime centre of freedom fight so the parade should pass from Chandni Chowk. Government relised the importance of DHMA suggestion and extended the route till Red Fort passing through different parts of old Delhi and Chandni Chowk. On the route of the parade many welcome gates were made by DHMA. Central Government awarded association for this.
To give appropriate place and to promote usage of mother tongue Hindi association advised all its members to do the correspondence and written work in Hindi. For this public awareness campaign through posters and appeals was run.
Control on cloth was main reason of corruption, association kept opposing it. As a result permission to sell textile outside Delhi without permit was given on November 19, 1953. Although the permission to send textile outside Delhi was received but Civil Supply Minister Shri Chanbdra Bhan Gupt wanted that traders of Uttar Pradesh should directly get textile. When no solution could be reached Chief Minister of Dehli Chaudhary Brahmprakash said he will ban entry of trucks in Delhi and no truck will be allowed to enter Delhi without permission. This made an effect and Uttar Pradesh government on November 1952 removed the ban imposed by it.
Association started publishing Mercantile Newsletter namely called ‘Merchantile Bulletin’ on August 15, 1950. Orders which were passed by government in English were translated into Hindi and activities of the association were published in it. Traders could not understand the orders passed by government in English so could not follow them and had to face problems like challan etc. Publication of newsletter gave Hindi translation of orders passed in English in every 15 days. Shri Krishan Murari Rohatgi who gave the idea of publishing bulletin was given the responsibility of editor of bulletin.
Supreme Court of India under section 286 on March 30, 1953 that no tax will be charged on textile sent from one state to another. But trader sending the goods in any state will have to get registered according to the sales tax of receiving state. Local government can charge sale tax from January 26, 1950. This created a problem for the traders. Association opposed it; they met the Parliamentary Secretary B.R, Bhagat and took his support. As a result in Rajkot on Deputy Finance Minister Shri S.C. Shah announced that no state will charge sale tax and central government cancelled the order of charging sales tax.
Association kept making efforts to remove sale tax. An All India Traders conference was organized on 8-9 May 1954 in this context; it was presided over by Minister Shri S.K. Patil. In the conference it was decided that request will be made to government to amend section 286.
Delhi Government formed advisory committee in 1954; Shri Gauri Shanker Goenka represented the Association in it. The same year Shri Brij Bhushan Sharan name was nominated to represent association in University Court. The executive members of DHMA were also nominated as the Honorary Magistrates. During this period Shri Brij Bhushan Saran, Lala Ganpat Rai, Shri Hem Chand Jain & Shri Om Prakash Jain were the Honorary Magistrates attending the regular Courts of Delhi.
In 1954 elections the same executive committee was repeated.
To remove Control on Cloth, State Sale Tax and make them easy association constantly kept making efforts. In 1953 another organization United chamber of Commerce was formed DHMA became member of it. They together raised voice for the removal of control and state sale tax on cloth. President Rai Sahib Lala Gurprasad Kapoor and Sardar Raunak Singh big industrialists and Ex-President of FICCI taking Member of Parliament in confidence raised the issue in Parliament also.
This year many reputed people like Shri K.R. Bhagat, Lala Radharaman- MP, Shri Thakur Das- MP, Smt. Sucheta Kriplani, Acharya Shri Kriplani and Dehli Government Minister Shri Shiv Charan came to association.
The diamond jubilee of the organization was celebrated this year.
In 1955 no change was seen in the executive. State government formed ‘Textile Committee’ to give its view on different problems of textile trade. Lala Ganpat Rai ji represented association in it.
The same year Dehli Government formed ‘Trade Enquiry Committee’. Suggestion from different associations were invited by the government, DHMA also gave their suggestions which were given due importance by the government. In elections 1956-57 Rai Sahib Gurprasad Kapoor was reelected the President and Lala Ganpat Rai became the Secretary.
The status of state from Delhi was taken back by the government. Association easily accepted this decision but wanted their one representative should be there in Delhi Municipal Corporation. But government did not accept this.
On September 20, 1956 in the divine guidance of Acharya Tulsi, originator of Anuvrat movement a trader’s conference was organized in Town Hall. Central Finance Minister Shri Morarji Desai addressed the conference. Acharya emphasized the importance of truth and morals in business.
In 1958 same executive continued with little change. Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries called an All India Traders Conference on February 25, 1960 which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. Sir Lala Sri Ram (D.C.M.), Shri Ghanshyam Das Birla, Shri Rama Swamy Mudliyar and many reputed people participated in it. Shri Brij Bhushan Sharan, Shri Hem Chand Jain and Shri Ugerasen Singhal represented association in it. Discussions on how to systematically run trade were held in it.
In 1961-62 important changes took place in executive. Shri Brij Bhushan Saran was elected the President. Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri laid the foundation of Merchantile Association Bhawan on 10.8.62 at Queens Garden (near Hardayal Library), Chandni Chowk. Central Minister Shri Jaisukhlal Hathi, Ex-Mayor Lala Shamnath, Shri Ramvharan Agarwal, Deputy Commissioner Shri Bose Malik and many prestigious leaders, government officers and representatives of association were present on the occasion.
In 1963-64 and 1965-66 elections the same executive was elected. These years are extraordinary as it has been mentioned before that to provide textile at reasonable rate government had implemented the policy of printing rate on textile. This policy was misused and Mills use to print arbitrary rates on textile. To take a strong step against this an All India Textile Traders Conference was organized which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. On the occasion Federation of All India Cloth Merchant Association was formed, Shri Navneet Bhai Lallu Shah of Peace Goods Mahajan Bombay was elected the first President.
Looking at the growing trade end export from Dehli association requested the government to make a Dry Port in Dehli. Association also formed a Merchantile President Charitable Trust with the aim to collect money for supporting education, social work and helping people struck by natural calamities.
In year 1967-68 and 69 changes were not seen in executive. Shri Brij Bhusan Sharan remained the President and Shri Ganpat Rai Secretary. In 1967 association also got the permission to sell postal stamps and other postal material from Indian Postal Department, this was very helpful for the traders.
On 8-9 December 1967 All India Traders Conference was organized in Vigyan Bhawan in which traders from all over India participated. In this conference discussions were held on ‘Ten Year Plan’, after the discussion trade leaders suggested that ‘Ten Year Plan’ will be a hurdle in smooth business operations so it should not be implemented.