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History of Jadwets

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AKOOJEES were one of the richest families of Burma; They had a partnership with Jadwet family. R. Akoojee Jadwet & Company, a partnership firm between two Gujarati families, the Akoojees and the Jadwets, is one of the companies that frequently traded with these islands since the turn of the last century. We do not know when the company was first established, but by the early 1900s, the company had their headquarters in Moulmein (Burma) and ran a flourishing trade between Gujarat and Burma. Their vessels regularly frequented the Nicobar Islands to obtain a cargo of coconuts and arecanuts to be sold in Burma. The influence of the company in the coconut trade can be gauged from the fact that they were the only successful enterprise among several competitors to obtain a 30-year lease over the produce of Great and Little Coco islands from the British government in the early 1930’s.
Akoojee Jadwet & Co. had apparently established good relations with Edward Kutchat, chief of Car Nicobar, by providing space to some enterprising Nicobarese who wished to export their produce directly to Burma. . During the Second World War when the Japanese occupied Burma, members of the company had to flee back to Gujarat, some by sea, others via the land route (Jadwet 2002). According to Y.E. Jadwet (1999), the company further won the admiration of the Nicobarese when their vessel returned after the war to deliver articles promised in exchange for the produce that had been purchased and shipped to Burma prior to the war.
With the war over, the British planned the re-occupation of the Nicobar Islands. Part of the planning was to re-organize trade and the distribution of food and commodities in the Nicobars. The Government of British India invited the directors of R. Akoojee Jadwet & Co., Ebrahim and Yusuf Jadwet, to Delhi for negotiations. In September 1945, a contract was signed between the company and the Government of British India by which the former received the sole license to trade in the Nicobars on a certain royalty payable on exports. The company was also made responsible for distributing food and essentials to the Nicobarese. Following the agreement, the Jadwets arrived at Car Nicobar with the re-occupation forces in late 1945 and established their headquarters at Chukchuka village (Jadwet 1999).

At that time, the trade on Nancowry Islands (or the central group) was run by a Muslim trader, Ilias Malim (also known as Illias Yacoob).Illias, originally a Gujarati, plied his business between Burma and Nancowry islands. He bought coconuts and arecanuts from the natives and in exchange gave them articles that were in demand. With permission from Rani Ishlon, the then chief of Nancowry, Illias had erected a small shop and a copra kiln on which he made copra. The goods were transported to and from Burma on a small yatch that he owned (Yusuf 2002). According to Fatima, the granddaughter of Rani Ishlon, "Ilias used to bring full loads of rice, sugar, cloth and kerosene oil and then stay at Nancowry till the goods are finished" (2002). Just before the war, Illias married Rani Lachmi, the daughter of Rani Ishlon. However, during the period of the war, Illias remained mostly ill from malaria. After the war, sometime between 1947-48, contact was established between Ilias and Cassim Jadwet, a partner in R. Akoojee Jadwet & Co. (Jadwet 2002). According to Fatima (2002), Bias brought Cassim Jadwet to Rani Ishlon and advocated the transfer of his shop and business activities to the Company. Following the approval of Rani Ishlon, the company established their business at Champin village on Nancowry. Illias returned to Burma for treatment but never returned. In the succeeding decades, the company became a formidable force in the lives of the Nicobarese that took different forms and triggered new dynamics in the trading relationship.       
HAJEE CASSIM MOHAMMED JADWET, the patriarch of  Jadwet group of companies was born on April 1923 at Motavaracha village of Gujarat. He completed his primary education at Moulmein, Burma, after which he went to Karachi in search of job. Later he joined his family business in Burma and came to Andaman Nicobar islands.
Hajee Cassim Mohammed Jadwet was the director of R. Akoojee Jadwet & Company. He played an important role in improving the social and economical development of the Nicobarese; he introduced the concept of currency and monetary system for the first time in Nicobars, replacing the barter system. For the first time in the history of Nicobars, he generated electricity with the help of generator sets in the early 40’s. He played a key role along with Bishop John Richardson, in setting up the two apex cooperative societies in the Nicobars, Ellon Hinengo Limited and Manula Mathai Limited. He played a key role in the Nicobar group those days where the administration had a very minimal control over Nicobar group, and entire affairs used to be run by R. Akoojee Jadwet & Co. The Nicobarese consider him as the father of modern Nicobar. In the year 1958, he donated a hospital building at Malacca village at Carnicobar for the welfare of the tribal community.

A visionary by nature, Hajee Cassim Mohammed Jadwet played an important role in developing the commerce of Port Blair; he started the first travel agency in these islands – Island Travels, built the first five star hotels in Port Blair, Hotel Bay Island, which was designed by the world famous architect, Charles Correa. The Light House cinema hall was also established by him. Cassim Jadwet was also a board member of the Thai India Steel industry in Bangkok.
He is also known as the FATHER OF MODERN NICOBAR. The Nicobarees have a very great respect for him. During his tenure as the director of JADWET GROUP, the company purchased 8 cargo ships, which used to sail to Middle East & South East Asia. He was also the director of INDO THAI STEEL INDUSTRY, BANGKOK. He was the person in the family who expanded the JADWET GROUP all over the world.
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