Indian expat who brought electricity to Dubai dies at 95
Dubai - Pancholia, fondly called Maghabha, was one of the UAE's earliest residents.
The sad demise of veteran businessman Maghanmal Pancholia is termed as a huge loss for Indian community in the UAE. The nonagenarian held many high positions and was looked upon as a role model by non-resident Indians.
Dr Lalchand Maghanmal Pancholia, son of Maghanmal Pancholia, said: "The demise of my father is not only a personal loss but also a loss for the Indian community. We pray the values he instilled in us will continue to keep the rich legacy in our family and our community."
Pancholia, fondly called Maghabha, who founded Maghanmal Jethanand Group, was one of the UAE's earliest residents. He is remembered for his contribution to bringing electricity to Dubai. Between 1957 and 1960, Pancholia supplied electricity to the emirate of Dubai, and in 1961 elected director of Dubai Electricity, which was founded by the late Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Pancholia held this post until the organisation was nationalised around 1980.
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Dr Ram Buxani, chairman of ITL Cosmos Group, said: "I have had a friendship with Pancholia for six decades, and it is indeed a personal loss for me. He fell ill while he was preparing to have lunch on Monday noon. The memories we shared are indeed profound as we worked together for uplifting Indian businesses in the UAE."
Paras Shahdadpuri, chairman of Nikai Group of Companies, said: "Maghanmal Pancholia was a true patriarch to the Indian community and set an example of simple living with rich principles that we count on."
"Maghanmal actually passed away with his shoes on when he was returning from work at 1pm," Shahdadpuri added.
Pancholia established his venture in 1942 which dealt in steel products, among other items.
Additionally, Pancholia was the chairman of Arabian Trading Agency, a Dubai outfit founded by his elder brother Parmanand Jethanand Pancholia. The family business established its roots in Dubai as a trader of pearls and foodstuff, and today is a major retailer in the city.
Pancholia founded Dubai's Indian High School in the 1960s, and served as its trustee and chairman until 1979, following which he was chairman emeritus of the school, according to Arabian Trading Agency's website. Between 1965 and 1980, Pancholia was part of the board of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, after being nominated by Sheikh Rashid. Pancholia was founder and permanent trustee of Dubai's India Club, and was elected chairman of Mercantile Hindu Community of Thatta (Sindh), Dubai, between 1978 and 2008.
Nimish Makvana, president of IBPC Dubai, said: "The loss of Maghanmal is indeed heavy for the businesses to bear as his business model led many to start their enterprises here."
He is survived by two sons and two daughters.