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Men who matter: Asgar Safi Mehdi


"One has to think ahead of time and change in tune with it to succeed and survive in this fast track world. And just because we have followed this doctrine religiously over the years, today Mohsin Brothers is a name of repute," says Asgar Safi Mehdi the former partner of the hardware store.

Born in an illustrious business family in Nagpur, Mr. Mehdi moved to this town in 1935 along with his parents when he was four years old. "My father, Safi Saheb, wanted to start a business away from Nagpur and after surveying a few places like Madras and Bangalore he zeroed in on Vizagapatam. Later when I had grown up, I asked him why he preferred this small town over the bigger cities, he said, 'Firstly I had fallen in love with the natural and un-spoilt scenic beauty of this place and secondly I visualized that this town would one day be a booming trade centre, keeping in mind the all-round development of the hinterland along with the growth of the port.' Now I realise how true was his vision," recollects Mr. Mehdi.

Today Mohsin Brothers is one among the leading hardware stores in coastal Andhra. "One could get from a pin to a piston. It is a complete hardware store under one roof that is professionally managed in tune with the present requirements. Initially, we started the business as a department store and flourished under the patronage of Englishmen living here and the maharaja families which had made this town their home. Slowly with the dwindling of those communities we diversified into hardware in 1951."

Being the fifth of the eight siblings, he passed out with distinction from St. Aloysius High School but could not pursue further education due to family pressures.

"After having passed with distinction I secured an admission at the prestigious British Institute of Engineering and Technology in London, but having been born in a business family that too in a joint family set-up I was discouraged to go ahead with my engineering plans. I joined the family business at the age of 15. I have vastly learned from life, circumstances and experiences over the last six decades.

"I still vividly remember the day when my father had ordered me to go on a tour of the South after I had passed out of the high school. He gave me Rs.50 and told 'Go see India and come back and share what you have seen and learnt. That was truly a great learning experience and I suggest that every youngster should travel extensively to learn things first hand, as I have done, " he asserts.

Philanthropic gestures

Apart from actively taking part in reconstruction and renovation of various mosques and dargahs, he is a committee member of PAPA, a voluntary organisation engaged in the rehabilitation of street children. He is also the patron of Vebart Trust that runs the Mohsin Eye Bank.

Mr. Mehdi is associated with various social organisations like Free Masons and Lions Club and had held senior positions.

S.B.

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