Raosaheb Gogte

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Raosaheb Gogte
रावसाहेब गोगटे
Founder and Managing Director of the Gogte Group
In office
July 20, 1967 – February 26, 2000
Personal details
Born(1916-09-16)16 September 1916
Tembhu, Bombay Presidency, British Raj
Died26 February 2000(2000-02-26) (aged 83)
Belgaum, Karnataka, India
Ushatai Gogte (née Chiplunkar)
(m. 1943; his death 2000)
ParentsDr. Mahadev Gogte (father) and Kamlabai Gogte (mother)
  • Industrialist
  • Philanthropist
  • Educationist
  • Lawyer

Balkrishna Mahadev Gogte IAST: Bāḷakr̥shṇa Mahādeva Gogaṭe; September 16, 1916 in Tembhu – February 26, 2000 in Belgaum, known colloquially as Raosaheb Gogte IAST: Rāvasāheba Gogaṭe, was an Indian lawyer, industrialist, philanthropist and educationist.

He is best remembered as the founder of the Gogte Group of companies, involved in mining, minerals, salts and textiles. Today, he is the namesake of the Gogte Institute of Technology, Gogte College of Commerce, the Gogte Hall at the Shivaji Park Gymkhana in Dadar, Mumbai, the Gogte Suite at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, the Gogte Hall at the Belgaum District Chamber of Commerce, and the Gogte Circle in Belgaum.


Early life, family and education: 1916–1936

Gogte was born on September 16, 1916 at Tembhu,[1] at the time a part of the Bombay Presidency,[2] to Dr. Mahadev Gogte (1891–1953) and Kamlabai Gogte (née Ambutai Latey).[3] Their family was Chitpavan brahmin,[4] and was established as the Noble house|gharana at Karad since Gogte's grandfather's time.[5] Gogte's father was a practicing surgeon in Karad, with an Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery|L. M. & S. from the Calcutta National Medical College|National Medical College in Calcutta,[6][7] while his mother hailed from the aristocratic Latey (Bhagwat) family who had been hereditary castellans of the :mr:सदाशिवगड (कराड)|Sadashivgad in Karad under the Maratha Peshwa and Generals from Bhat Family since the Battle of Kharda in 1795.[8][9]

Gogte was born the eldest of five children, he had two younger brothers and two younger sisters.[10] Through his brother Vaman, Gogte was a paternal uncle to Anjali Dandekar, the first wife of Kokuyo Camlin head Dilip Dandekar; and an uncle-by-law to economist Jyoti Gogte, wife of his nephew Jayant. Through his brother Vasudev, Gogte was a paternal uncle to Rekha Agashe, the wife of Board of Control for Cricket in India vice-president Dnyaneshwar Agashe, and thus a great-uncle to Mandar Agashe, Ashutosh Agashe and Sheetal Agashe.[11][12]

Beginning in 1925, Gogte began his education at the the Lokmanya Tilak High School in Karad, before he was sent to Jalgaon in 1926, to be educated under his paternal uncle Narayanrao Gogte, who was headmaster at the New English School there.[13][14] In 1928, he accompanied his uncle to Chalisgaon, where they would be members of the Mahatma Gandhi there, alongside Hari Vinayak Pataskar.[15] In 1929, he returned to Karad to continue his education at the Tilak High School,[16] and while there, was a classmate of Yashwantrao Chavan till 1930.[17]

By the early 1930s, both his father and uncle had joined the Indian independence movement as Gandhians.[18] By 1931, Gogte's father moved their family to Belgaum,[19][20] where Gogte continued his education at the Chintamanrao High School at Shahapur, then in the Sangli State|Princely State of Sangli.[21][22] While at school at Shahapur, Gogte was distinguished at elocution,[23][24] was elected as general secretary of the student body,[25] and took part in several civil unrests as part of the Indian freedom movement and was once citizen's arrest|arrested for reading out a Indian National Congress bulletin in public.[26] In early 1932, at sixteen, he survived an assassination attempt from two students at his school, who bombed the venue of the event where Gogte and a few other students were staging Govind Ballal Deval's 1916 play Samshay Kallol.[27][28]

Though of nobility|noble origin as descendants of chieftains from the Maratha Confederacy|Peshwai, the family was relatively impoverished,[29] and in 1933, Gogte's father abandoned his medical practice to establish a flour mill.[30] That same year, aged seventeen, he matriculated from school by passing his University of Bombay examinations,[31][32] and went on to study law, graduating his diploma|high court pleader's examination in 1935, aged nineteen.[33][34] He then moved to Mumbai to work at the Bombay High Court for a year.[35][36]

While a guest at his maternal first cousin Laxman "Rajabhau" Bhave's residence in Mumbai in 1936, Gogte became acquainted with Ushatai Chiplunkar. She was the younger sister of his cousin's wife, and they were engaged shortly after their acquaintance.[37] The couple married on June 7, 1943,[38][39] and would go on to have three sons, Arvind (b. 1944), Anand (b. 1946) and Shirish (b. 1950).[40]

Career as a lawyer: 1936–1943

In 1936, at the age of twenty one, Gogte began his practice as an advocate in Belgaum.[41][42] One of his first notable cases was that of two cutler women from Baluchistan who had been charged with cheating, criminal intimidation and affray. His defense got them acquitted, but Gogte's failure to secure the fees for his service led the women to offer him two Rampuri knives they had made as payment.[43][44] This incident, alongside the moniker the two women addressed him with (Raosaheb) was widely circulated in legal circles and press, resulting in the colloquial name by which he would be known the rest of his professional and personal life.[45][46]

Beginning in 1936, Gogte taught law at the Karnatak Law Society,[46] alongside his advocacy work, and would go on to form the Belgaum District|Belgaum District Students Conference.[47][48] Around this time, Gogte was acquitted on a false charge of misappropriating sheets of irons given to him by the Iron and Steel Controller of Belgaum.[49] When the Motor Vehicles Act was amended in 1939, he was appointed to be the Honorary Secretary of the Bus Operators' Union of Belgaum by Keshavrao Gokhale of the Bombay Legislative Assembly,[50] where he was involved in several cases of accident insurance, route allocation, and interstate road tax negotiations with the Princely States of Sangli and Kolhapur State|Kolhapur.[51][52]

During such a time, when negotiations for route allocations crossing interstate lines, between the Indian Union|union and the Princely States came to an impasse, Gogte was warranted for arrest by the Chief Minister of the Kolhapur State, but evaded arrest by boarding a train bound for Miraj dressed as a woman, after being informed by the private secretary of Shivaji VII, the Maharaja of Kolhapur at the time. After this incidence, the negotiations between the union and the States were formally taken up and resolved by the Deccan States Agency and the Government of Bombay.[53][54]

By the end of 1942, Gogte had organised the All India Motor Union Congress and was engaged as the General counsel|chief counsel for all cases between the union and the Bombay Government.[55][56] By 1943, Gogte was engaged as chief counsel for cases between bus operators' unions in Belgaum, Pune, Nashik and Ahmedabad and their respective List of Regional Transport Office districts in India|Regional Transport Authorities.[57] He would continue to legally represent various sectors of the transport industry into the 1950s.[58][59]

Venture into business and philanthropy: 1944–1970

By 1944, Gogte had secured loans for his own trucking business.[57][60] When India in World War II|India's involvement in the Second World War led to petrol rationing, he decided to emulate a British company in Madras, and establish a Gas-fired power plant that used charcoal to generate fuel for his trucking vehicles. This venture proved unsuccessful.[61][62] In between 1945 and 1948, Gogte next ventured, yet again unsuccessfully, into setting up a Steel mill|Steel rolling mill in Karad.[63][64]

In 1952, Gogte got involved in the business of transporting mackerel from the coasts of Karwar to inner Maharashtra and Karnataka.[65] The need to preserve the catch, led him to seek investment from the Raja of the Kurundvad Junior|Princely State of Kurundwad (Junior) for the installment of an ice factory in Belgaum, which was inaugurated by Morarji Desai, then Chief Minister of Maharashtra|Chief Minister of Unified Bombay.[66] On the suggestion of Bombay's Government of Maharashtra|Superintendent of Fisheries, Gogte travelled to Aberdeen to study Cryopreservation|flash freezing in order to set his own plant up for the venture, but was ultimately unsuccessful.[67][68]

In the early 1950s, Japan|Japanese interest in the iron ore|iron and manganese ores of Portuguese India|Portuguese Goa led Gogte to explore the possibility of mining for the ores in the districts of Ratnagiri district|Ratnagiri and North Kanara.[69] In 1954, he began mining for manganese near Kuveshi,[70][71] soon banding with other mine owners to form the Association of Manganese Ore Producers, of which he would serve as the inaugural president.[72] With financial encouragement from local lenders, Gogte established the Gogte Mines company and began mining for iron ore at Redi in 1957,[73] having leased 187 acres and 16 gunthas for the project, and producing 15,000 tonnes of iron ore within the first four months.[74][75]

When contractors began demanding higher rates, he commissioned two self-propelled barges for the transport of the ore, which were inaugurated by Yashwantrao Chavan and his wife Venutai.[76][77][78] When a flaw in their design was discovered, Gogte won the arbitration case, counselled by H. R. Gokhale, against the manufacturers of the barges.[79] Around the same time, Gogte would also go on to assist Mohan Singh Oberoi with the foundation of his signature Oberoi hotel in Mumbai; which Gogte performed the Satyanarayan Puja for at its inauguration, and subsequently Oberoi had one of the hotel's suites named after Gogte.[80][81]

Between 1959 and 1960, he further secured funding from the Bank of Baroda to import sophisticated mining equipment from the United States,[82] having exported 92,798 tonnes of crude iron ore within that financial year.[83] Between 1961 and 1964, the mining company continued to function at a loss, and so Gogte ventured to secure orders from Japan.[84][85] In 1963, he scouted 1500 acres of land near Nala Sopara for developing a salt farm|salt works.[86] He tasked his brother Vasudev with its management, who would apply French and Tunisian techniques of salt production at the works.[87] The Gogte Salts company was inaugurated in 1964 at the hands of Sadashiv Govind Barve.[88] In 1966, Gogte was made a patron of the Karnatak Law Society, and the Gogte College of Commerce was named in his honour.[89] Turning a profit after a decade of functioning,[84] Gogte formally incorporated his mining company on July 20, 1967.[90][91]

Veteran industrialist: 1970–1991

In 1972, Gogte was elected president of the Belgaum Chamber of Commerce, and would run campaigns across rural and urban Belgaum with the chamber to attract entrepreneurs to set up Small and medium-sized enterprises|small-scale industries in their localities.[92] By 1974, Gogte had secured buyers for his iron ore in Romania,[84] formally incorporating the Gogte Minerals company on February 23, 1977,[93] for promotion of ammonium chloride fertilizers.[94]

In 1977, Gogte was the subject of a festschrift,[95] and in 1978, tried to establish a paper mill in the Chandrapur district with the help of Vasantdada Patil, but the venture was unsuccessful.[96] Around the same time, Gogte ventured into establishing an inner-city bus service for Belgaum.[97] The controversial scheme conflicted with the Belgaum City Corporation's plans to do the same. Gogte controversially won the license from the Regional Transport Authority for the scheme after producing a letter from then Ministry of Home Affairs (India)|Minister of Home Affairs, Morarji Desai, disapproving of small municipalities having jurisdiction over transport services in cities.[98] The city bus service was met with civilian acclaim, but was soon nationalised.[99] Around the same time, he was also elected president of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture|Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce.[100] In 1979, Gogte further made financial contributions to the Karnatak Law Society, who in-turn honoured him by naming the Gogte Institute of Technology after him.[101]

On May 17, 1980, Gogte established Gogte Textiles, venturing into textiles.[102][103] Under the advisement of S. M. Krishna, he pursued to obtain a license from the Government of Karnataka under Gundu Rao,[104] to set up a textile mill in Kakti, acquiring 100 acres for the venture and ordering weaving machinery from Switzerland.[105][106] After promises of financial encouragement from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (India)|Ministry of Industry fell through, Gogte appealed to R. N. Malhotra at the Reserve Bank of India for provision of working capital. Financial encouragement came from the State Bank of Mysore and IDBI, under the advisement of Shankarrao Chavan.[107][108] In 1981, Gogte was elected to the first of three terms as chairman of the National Institute of Industrial Engineering|National Institute for Training in Industrial Engineering (NITIE),[109][110] and in 1982, he became the subject of a biography in Marathi by D. K. Barve.[111] In 1986, he was further appointed chairman of the State Industrial and Investment Corporation of Maharashtra (SICOM).[112][113]

In 1980, Gogte went on to become president of the Indo-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and worked on developing the Konkan region with Saudi Arabian investment.[114][115] In the late 1980s, Gogte's son Arvind, and his wife Mangal (née Patwardhan dynasty|Patwardhan, a Princess of the Princely State of Kurundwad (Junior)),[116] presented samples of their Textile Mills' terrycloth towels to then Prime Minister of India|Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, when they learned that his wife Sonia Gandhi had enquired after them. When Gandhi requested Gogte to arrange a visit to the mills, the mills' workers went on strike.[117] By 1990, the Gogte Textile Mills was one of the largest exporters of textile goods in Karnataka,[118] and in 1991, Gogte became the subject of another biography by M. V. Kamath.[119]

Later years, death, and legacy: 1991–2000

In the early 1990s, Gogte's donated to the Belgaum Chamber of Commerce, and the chamber honoured by naming the conference room as the Gogte Hall, at their headquarters in Belgaum after him.[120] Gogte served his third consecutive term as chairman of NITIE till 1994. A friend of Naval Tata, he was on the board of directors for three companies of the Tata Group, as well as a director for Oberoi hotels.[116] He had suffered from spondylitis since 1976,[121] having undergone successful operation for it.[122]

A patron of the arts and sciences, he organised several concerts in Belgaum for Bal Gandharva and Lata Mangeshkar, alongside scientifc patronages to the research of Bhalchandra Nilkanth Purandare.[123] He also gave financial support to the Marathi cinema|Marathi and Kannada cinema|Kannada film industries.[124] The Karnatak Drama Conference also honoured his patronage to drama by announcing an annual Gogte Dramatic Award awarded to dramatists.[125]

Gogte died in Belgaum, Karnataka, on February 26, 2000, aged 83. He was survived by his three sons and their families: seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; his younger brother and sister, and the children and grandchildren of all his siblings. He was survived in business by his three sons and three grandsons.[126][127]

Besides the naming of the colleges founded in his honour by the Karnatak Law Society in 1966 and 1979 respectively, a bust of his likeness was installed at the headquarters of the Karnataka Education Society in 1986.[125][128] Today, he is the namesake of the Gogte Hall at the Shivaji Park|Shivaji Park Gymkhana in Dadar, Mumbai, the Gogte Suite at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, and the Gogte Hall at the Belgaum Chamber of Commerce.[129] He is also the namesake of the Gogte Circle in Belgaum.[130]


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