POPATLAL GOVERDHAN LALAN
UNCROWNED KING OF COCHIN
is a little less than 60 years back that the curtains
fell upon one of the glorious careers that Mattancherry
had witnessed within living memory by the demise of
HIS PHILANTHROPIC LIFE
Popatlal's example comes as a pleasing relief to the
common run of philanthropists, for not only did he
confer benefits but had catapulted many persons into
positions from where they need no longer look for
his help. This is the real motif of all his acts of
benefits, charity or generosity.
only motto in life was love and service. He was also
free from communal prejudice, and was helping his
friends without any such distinctions. He had friends
both among Muslims and Christians who had received
generous help from him to build up their fortune and
who are today in a will-to-do position.
A man of vision, he was equally alive to the cause
of social reforms in the State. His name shall ever
remain associated with the cause of the relief of
the poor and the downtrodden classes of the society.
In fact his was such a distinguished and unique personality
to whom was attached all the national activities of
the State. There was not a single institution in Cochin,
which had not been benefited through Sri Lalan irrespective
of its communal label.
is impossible to convey an adequate idea of the way
in which POPATLAL received and entertained persons
of different ranks without any distinction. He was
never known to have refused any one, a trait, which
characterizes only the very noble and consequently
great business magnate was also a great believer in
education as the great solvent of the numerous problems
with which our country is confronted. As the President
of the Gujarati Vidyalaya, Cochin, for many years,
he never hesitated at any time to extend help to the
poor and needy pupils irrespective of caste and creed.
He was an ardent exponent of commercial education
and had an idea of starting a College of Commerce
at Mattancherry, but due to his untimely death he
was not able to fulfill his cherished ambition.
He was helping a large number of students in their
education during his lifetime. He was even for creating
a permanent fund for the education of the poor children.
His views on the education of women is borne out by
the example that he set in sending his own daughter
to School disregarding the custom to the contrary
among the Gujaraties at that period of time, thus
blazing a new trail which others of his community
followed. It was one of his hopes, which he often
expressed, to see a High School for girls started
in Mattancherry, and had even moved the authorities.
Mr. Popatlal was primarily known throughout the State
and beyond it as a very big businessman. There is
no business concern in the State in which he had no
hand. He was the founder, as was stated by the Mover,
of the Indo-Mercantile Bank, which is the first Bank
registered in our State to become a Scheduled bank.
He was friend of the poor and there is hardly any
one in the State or outside it who has appealed for
any help and did not get the same from him.
is no field of activity, which he left untouched.
It was however in the field of business that his great
talents manifested themselves. A keen insight into
human nature coupled with unusual prudence and ability
in organization easily marked him out as an outstanding
figure in the business community. His great services
as the Managing Director of the Indo-Mercantile Bank
Ltd., and as Chairman of many Mercantile and Banking
institutions as well known to need any enumeration.
The fact that he represented the mercantile community
in the Cochin Legislative Council for some time is
in itself an indication of the great popularity, hold
and influence he wielded among them. It was nothing
but his sheer worth and mettle, which enabled him
to preside over the Indian chamber of Commerce and
hold the destinies of a flourishing and well-known
Bank for a long time.
colourful and dynamic personality, he was a friend,
philosopher and guide to a wide circle of his fellow-citizens,
extending to them his helping hand in times of distress
and difficulties, for no one who approached him for
help, advice or guidance had to return disappointed.
HIS PIOUS LIFE
most remarkable feature of his character was his deep
religious nature. Endowed with enormous wealth, Sri
Lalan was a favourite child of the Goddess of wealth.
But Pride, the natural follower of that Goddess, never
even approached him. In him was seen a curious mingling
of wealth and humanity. Always loving, always kind,
he was, to all his friends. Though living a rich and
luxurious life, he never slighted the poor. Like that
of Providence, his generosity was unique. He would
never utter a single harsh word even to his servants.
Intensely religious as heart, he never forgot God
in his prosperity.
to this, his love for the dumb animals was perhaps
greater than his love for his fellow-beings. The stopping
of animal sacrifice at the Sri Bhagavathi Devi Temple,
Amaravathy, British Cochin and in other temples far
and near, was the fruit of his untiring efforts.
Popatlal was a strong advocate of the protection of
cows and other animals and did a great service for
a long period as the President of the Panjirapole,
was also instrumental in shaping the Cochin Jain temple
to its present form. He was a member of the trust
board and during his tenure the temple underwent many
modification and expansion. His family built the Chandraprabh
temple and handed over to the sangh.
HIS PUBLIC LIFE
His nomination as the Honorary Magistrate at the early
age of 24 heralded the entry of a career in the public
life at once full of promise and service to the public.
As a member of the Cochin Legislative Council to which
he was elected for three successive terms, young Popatlal
brought his sound instructive business acumen and
his knowledge of men and affairs to bear upon the
discussions of various problems of the State. During
his membership he played an important role in shaping
the industrial and commercial policy of the State.
Sri Lalan came to be easily recognized as a stalwart
especially in commercial and financial matters with
regard to which there was hardly anyone to beat him
either on official or on non-official side in the
of his great ambitions in life was to improve the
town of Mattancherry and for that purpose alone he
consented to become its Chairman. In Mr. Popatlal's
death His highness had lost a loyal subject, the State
a business magnate, the poor a king of philanthropists,
and his friends, a sincere and loving companion.
Popatlal died as the Chairman of the Mattancherry
Municipal Council, an ex-member of the Cochin Legislative
Council and the President of the Indian Chamber of
Commerce, Cochin. The deceased Mr. Popatlal was the
organizer and Managing Director of the Indo-Mercantile
Bank Ltd., ever since it was established and by his
undue influence and perseverance, it became a scheduled
bank at Cochin.
flower, which grew and blossomed during forty-five
summers, had all too soon and unexpectedly withered
away leaving its fragrance to the world. It is now
left for his survivors to capture and preserve this
fragrance by fulfilling those desires and hopes which
were dear to him. There may be greater brains among
us, but not larger hearts. Lets strive to keep his