Bandali Kassim

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Waras Bandali Kassim
Bandali Kassim.png
Date of Birth
  • 1875
Date of Death
  • 1956/03/11
Place of longest stay
Where-City or Country

Born in 1875

Vali, the grandfather of Bandali Kassim was originally from Bhuj, Kutch. He took up his abode at Karachi with his eight years old son, Kassim and resided in Kharadhar, Karachi. Kassim joined his father's firm, dealing in leather and made steady progress. Kassim had five sons, Merali, Bandali, Muhammad, Rashid, and Karim.

Kassim's son Bandali Kassim was born in 1875. Soon after his rudimentary education, he took over the charge of his business with his brothers and became known as an 'uncrowned king' among the business magnates. His business extended to Europe through M/S Volcart Bros. He opened many branches of his firm in Sind. He erected a big factory in Lyari quarter, Karachi to dye the leathers to be exported to Europe.

He was noted for his piety and generosity. He donated a large amount to the Relief Fund of Kathiawar in 1919 and also gave a handsome amount for the scholarship of the Ismailis in Kharadhar School in Karachi. He gave Rs. 30,000/- for extending the premises of the Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi, which was opened on June 30, 1919. He also provided furniture to the Ismaili Library and Panjibhai Club and funded the Religious Night School for many years. In 1919, he formed the 'Late Kassim Vali Private Khoja Ismailia Orphan Fund' and donated Rs. 10,000/- for the welfare of the poor Ismailis.

His wife Khatija was also a social worker and rendered admirable services to the War Relief Fund for Sind branch.

His exports in Europe suffered a setback during the outbreak of the First World War. British India, however, purchased his leathers, to which a Committee was formed of five eminent traders under his headship. He continued to supply the government on a commission basis until the end of the war in 1919.

When an economic slump struck the traders during the First World War; the local banks held up to sanction loans to the traders in 1917. It caused intensive hardships to the local Ismaili traders. He came forward to help them and formed a Khoja Ismailia Trading Company with a reserve capital of five million rupees, each share cost Rs. 100/- He himself purchased its shares as a promoter for Rs. 1,25,000/- The Board of Directors elected him its Chairman. It was registered with the government on March 7, 1918. In its first ordinary meeting held on April 1, 1919, the director Varas Fadhu Piru Khalikdina (1885-1936) said in his opening speech that, 'Seth Bandali Kassim assisted the Company on several occasions, and procured a handsome profit for the Company through his leather business.

This institution began to lend money to Ismaili traders. He also increased the reserve funds of the Company through different methods. For instance, he deposited a sum of Rs. 10,000/- for the Khoja Ismailia Volunteer Corps, Rs. 1300/- for the Khoja Young Kathiawadi Ismaili Mitr Mandal, Rs. 700/- for the Garden Volunteer Corps, Rs. 5000/- for the Khoja Ismailia School, etc. Hence, these institutions received annual profits against the above-fixed deposits.

He helped the destitute, treated the ailing families and aided the students in accessing education. He also assisted Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and encouraged him to seek higher education. He was also the patron of the Lady Dufferin Hospital and Civil Hospital and merited the status of Honorary Magistrate in Karachi.

Both Bandali Kassim and Alidina Ali Muhammad were famous in Karachi for their implication in all the righteous and benevolent works. A certain Rajan Dossa was highly touched with their noble works and composed a poem to pay them a well-deserved tribute and published it in the 'Ismaili Satpanth Prakash' (Bombay) on August 27, 1919.

The total number of Ismailis in Karachi around 1920 was about five thousands, and they were in need of a maternity home. The Imam hired one midwife in 1920. The average birth per month was 17 in 1923. Varas Bandali Kassim, a farsighted philanthropist obtained a plot of 3227 square yards for a maternity home from Harichandrai Vishandas, the President of Karachi Municipal. In 1920, Imam laid foundation of the maternity home at Kharadhar, Karachi. Varas Bandali Kassim donated Rs. 1,50,000/- for it, whose construction began in May, 1923. It was completed within four years and was inaugurated by J.L. Rieu, the Commissioner of Sind on April 15, 1924. It was named 'Janbai Kassim Vali Khoja Ismailia Maternity Home' in the loving memory of his mother and was presented to the Imam. It was well equipped for the treatment of mothers and their newly born babies. It contained an operation room, waiting room and other seven rooms with 24 beds. It was furnished with the latest medical facilities under his supervision, and his wife Khatija also took a keen interest in it.

In the old locality of Musa Lane, near Kharadhar, Karachi, Varas Bandali Kassim is reputed to have built a poor house at the cost of one million rupees, known as 'Seth Kassimbhai Vali Khoja Ismaili Poor House'. Mukhi Rahmatullah Lutf Ali of Kharadhar Jamatkhana performed its opening ceremony on October 29, 1923. It was built on a site of 439 square yards, accommodating about 18 families. These houses were allotted to the destitute families at the rent of one rupee per month.

His elder brother, Merali Rashid Kassim was also generous and gave scholarships to the Kharadhar School, Karachi and also built the third floor of the Kharadhar Jamatkhana for Rs. 25,000/- He died in Karachi on Sunday, July 25, 1920 at the age of 55 years.

His younger brother, Karim Kassim lived in Hyderabad, Sind. He was the councilor of the Municipal and the President of Ismaili Council for Tando Division. He died in Karachi on Sunday, March 11, 1956. His wife Varasiani Khatija however continued to serve the community.

Few words must be added for Wazir Ghulam Hyder Bandali, the son of Varas Bandali Kassim. He was born on October 15, 1905 in Karachi. He served in the field of health, education, and library and held key posts in the community.