Baba Kalyani : An Alchemist – Ghanshyam Patil

Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj said, “The trade of the state is the beauty of the state. If the state wants to be prosperous, trade should be conducted well within the state.” In his ‘Ajna Patra’, he explained the trade policy and emphasized that the ‘Sahukar’ (businessman/trader) is the beauty of the state and the king. He urged for the satisfaction and invitation of foreign lenders to the state, advocating for protecting their interests and expressing warmth towards them. Additionally, he encouraged introducing new businesses in the state, as trade contributes to the state’s richness.

The term ‘Sahukar’ here refers to a businessman or entrepreneur, not a moneylender. Unfortunately, many industries in the state have moved to other states because this important advice of Shivaji Maharaj has been forgotten. I bring this up because Yashwantrao Chavan, the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra, recognized the significance of this issue and encouraged many individuals in this regard. One of the noteworthy figures is Neelkanth Kalyani. Baba Kalyani, his father Neelkanth Kalyani, and grandfather Annappa Kalyani have made significant business contributions and left a lasting legacy. Influential industrialists like Shantanurao Kirloskar have also provided considerable support to Neelkanth Kalyani.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru sought help from Yashwantrao Chavan. When Yashwantrao became the Defense Minister and went to Delhi, he was fittingly described as ‘Sahyadri’s run to the aid of the Himalayas’. Simultaneously, some entrepreneurs also assisted Yashwantrao by working tirelessly to initiate the production required by the defense department. One of the significant contributors was the Kalyani family. Originating from a Veerashaiva Jangam family in Maharashtra, these entrepreneurs revolutionized Maharashtra’s industrial sector through Bharat Forge.
The Kalyani family’s three-generation industry background involved purchasing turmeric, jaggery, and pulses and selling them in Konkan. Neelkanthrao Kalyani replaced this longstanding business, continued by Narayansheth Madappa Kalyani, by establishing a factory without any prior background. Shantanurao Kirloskar suggested to him, ‘Instead of merely starting a forging factory, obtain a license to manufacture crankshafts!’ The then Industries Minister of Maharashtra, S. G. Barve, supported them in this, marking the commencement of their journey.
In the field of forging, Baba Kalyani paid attention to market conditions while producing for the vehicle industry. Alongside contributing to defense, his company also excelled in creating cannon tubes. They claim to have developed a cannon that is more powerful and lighter than the Bofors cannon used in the Kargil War. Bharat Forge, led by Baba Kalyani, manufactured and supplied one lakh cannonballs to the Indian Army.
Baba Kalyani, born to Sulochana and Neelkanth Kalyani in Pune, attended the National Military School in Belgaum for his schooling. He then obtained his BE degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bits Pilani. It is Baba Kalyani’s firm belief that India cannot become a developed nation without the mass production of defense products. Despite entering this field, he boldly stated that he would continue producing products without waiting for orders. In 1996, he encountered a significant setback. Despite a surge in production, customer demand suddenly dropped sharply. This left him facing the challenge of managing a surplus of finished products, stockpiled raw materials, and skilled manpower. The work week was reduced to three days, but he overcame these difficulties, establishing himself as a prominent entrepreneur in Maharashtra. His success in overcoming these challenges was attributed to cutting-edge technology, skilled manpower, unwavering commitment to his work, and an indomitable will, all amidst intense international competition.
Lokmanya Tilak once said, “Even if the sky falls on me tomorrow, I have the strength to stand firmly on it.” Baba Kalyani turned Tilak’s words into reality. His company, Bharat Forge, achieved significant success, culminating in the acquisition of a German company established in 1839. Baba Kalyani, who elevated India’s reputation on the global stage, experienced numerous challenges but rose to the occasion each time, turning adversity into opportunity. The outstanding contribution of Baba Kalyani and Bharat Forge to India’s innovation is truly commendable and a source of pride.
– Ghanshyam Patil
Editor, Publisher
Note: This article is a translated version of an article ‘Kiamayagar’ from the Newspaper ‘Dainik Punyanagari’ dated 22nd May 2024 posted at the link below


पुणे शहरातून ‘साहित्य चपराक’ हे मासिक आणि ‘चपराक प्रकाशन’ ही उत्तमोत्तम पुस्तके प्रकाशित करणारी ग्रंथ प्रकाशन संस्था चालविण्यात येते. ‘साहित्य चपराक’ मासिकाचा अंक दरमहा 10 तारखेला प्रकाशित होतो. आपले साहित्य पाठविण्यासाठी, ‘चपराक’मध्ये जाहिराती देण्यासाठी आणि नवनवीन पुस्तकांच्या माहितीसाठी संपर्क - घनश्याम पाटील, संपादक 'चपराक'.
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