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Profile of Shashikant Jamnadas Virji Challa & Family

- Family of Intellectuals

 

Shashikant Jamnadas Pattni

Shashikantbhai’s family roots come from Chitravad in Gujarat, India.

 

His grandfather Virjibhai Kanjibhai Challa migrated to Muscat where he established his own business. Virjibhai then moved to Mombasa, Kenya, then a British Colony, for a while and later went back home to India.

 

Migration to E. Africa

Virjibhai’s son Jamnadas Virjibhai then went to Mombasa where he worked in a textile shop and later moved to Pangani in the Tanga region, then called Tanganyika Territory. He tried his luck in bicycle business but finally came settle in Tanga to start his own goldsmith shop. Jamnadasbhai was married to Diwaliben, daughter of Morarjibhai Gordhan settled in Dar-es-Salaam.

 

Shashikant was born in Bumbuli on Usambara Mountains in Tanganyika when his mother Diwaliben was only 14 years old and did my schooling in Tanga. He has six sisters and two brothers all born in Tanga.

 

Migration to UK

Shashikant, at the age of 20 left Tanga for UK in July 1958 by ship ‘Rhodesia Castle’. He was the only Indian on the ship. The ship reached UK via Suez.

 

He did his A levels for two years at Leicester College of Technology and worked part time and in holidays with Sketchleys dry cleaners where he was trained by the company as a branch manager and was given  full training in dry cleaning technology.

 

He flew back to Tanganyika in December 1960 to get married to Shashikala, youngest daughter of Popatlal Kalidas Dhanak in Tabora and flew back to London on 1st January 1961.

 

He studied textiles at Leicester College for three years while Shashikala studied and worked for SRN in nursing at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

 

She left nursing when their son Shushil was born in 1964; then Dipesh who was born in 1966.

 

Shashikant qualified in textile technology in 1964, worked at Leicester College in the textile laboratories and as a lecturer for over 18 months. He then joined on a shared job as quality control and customer relations with Exquisite Knitwear in London and Davis Manufacturing in Leicester – both companies manufactured and supplied knitted fabrics to M&S, for making up into garments. His work experience gave him tremendous confidence and strengthened his will power.

 

Service to the Community

In 1964 he developed powerful eagerness to set up a school to teach Gujarati and English to our children as well as establish a Hindu temple in Leicester with the support of the Gujarati community in Leicester.

 

Both Shashikala and Shashikant received good response for their noble causes. The director of education gave them two schools in Highfields and Melton Road areas to start classes. They were offered a church to set up a temple which became known as the Sanatan Mandir of Leicester.

 

Shashikant was elected the first President of The Indian Education Society in Leicester. He and Shashikala both worked hard to organise and manage the school and the temple.

 

He was made the secretary of India League Leicester where he worked hard to resolve various differences within the branch.

 

A 3-day programme was planned for the Indian High Commissioner H H Dr Jivraj Mehta and his wife Hansaben to come to Leicester for the student conference, cultural programme, Gujarati school and the temple visit.

 

Unfortunately there was an objection from the head of Sikh community in Leicester. Shashikant and Shashikala were called by Dr Mehta to the High Commission to resolve the objection. It was thus decided to reduce the programme to one day and only the High Commissioner’s wife Hansaben would come with Shashikala to Leicester to attend some functions.

 

It was indeed a great privilege and once in a lifetime wonderful experience to have spent time with the High Commission Dr Mehta and family who took them to their residence.

 

Shashikant's destiny took him through many challenges in his life, purposefully solving problems and misunderstandings in families. His role was like a BAWARCHI (peace maker)


Entrepreneurship

Shashikant’s business acuman led to many changes in his life. He went to Eldoret, Kenya to setup its first knitwear industry Ken Knit Kenya Limited with Shah Brothers.

 

He then started his own Pattex Knitwear Manufacturing Ltd, first knitwear project in Dar-es-Salaam which became a very profitable venture.

 

Then he went to Zambia to set up Sambro Limited, a knitwear project, with Sampat brothers (who were in serious financial problems) and made it a great venture. They exported their products to Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and some to Europe. Shanshikant ran the project for five years and then decided to sell it to local businessman.

 

He came back to the UK to settle children at a grammar school in Loughborough.

 

However, Shashikant had to return to Zambia to take care of Medwich Clothing Limited in Kitwe manufacturing ladies and children’s underwear which was run down by bad management. With a new management and strict disciplines, he turned the business around and made it  very profitable .

 

He also established a successful socks and single jersey fabric manufacturing business, Janalsons Socks Limited, within Medwich grounds and sold his shares to a Patel group as the family needed his presence in the UK

 

Shashikant completed the missions with success with the guidance and the blessings of Shree Krishna.

 

Pilgrimage with Devotion

Their pilgrimage trips started after his son Sanjeev’s birth in 1974 when he resided in Kitwe Zambia. The family did wonderful pilgrimages of most of the holy dhams which included all 4 big dhams - Badrinath, Rameshwar, Dwarkaji, Jagannathpuri -, 12 jyotirlinga temples, 8 astavinayak temples, Amarnath, Pashupatinath, , Tirupati Balaji, many Ashrams, MAYAPUR, VRINDAVAN.

 

He also took his Baa and Bapuji to  Ayodhya, Chitrakut, Ansuyadevi’s Ashram, all temples in Gujarat, Ambaji, Shree Nathji in Nathdwar, Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana, Haridwar and Rishikesh,

 

They have done puja at Khodiyar Mata in Matel,, Randhal Mata in Dadva, Harshidi Mata in Harshadh, , Momai Mata in Virnagar,  Chamunda Mata in Chotila,  Raveshi Mata in Kacch, Maha Kali Maa in Pavagadh, Ambaji Maa in Abu,  Pari-talav in Mauritius.

 

Mundan ceremonies of their six grandchildren and his son Sanjeev were all performed at Shree Nathji temple in Rajasthan.

 

Family of Intellectuals

Shashikantbhai and Shashikala with Shushil and Rita on the left, Dipesh and Nilisha top right and Sanjeev at bottom right with grandchildren.

 

Shashikant and Shashikala have three sons:

 

Shushil has BSc Hons., MPhil, and MBA and Rita has BA Hons in business enterprise. He married Rita (Chotubhai Hirji Naran and Pushpaben’s daughter) in 1990 and they have 2 sons and a daughter. Sheevam is doing Physics at Queen Mary London University, Krishna (A levels) & Aashish (GCSE) at school.

 

Dipesh has BSc Hons, MSc., Diploma of Imperial college in geology and is a senior mining manager with Schlumberger – he travels abroad. He is married to Nilisha (Vajubhai Naran Jetha and Pushpaben’s daughter) in 1993 and they have a son Pavankumar and daughter Varsana going to school.

 

Sanjeev is a medical gestro-antro consultant at three hospitals in Leicester – you have already put his article in news letter with his photo. He is married to Kajol (Caroline) in 2006 and they have two little sons Shyam and Jaikumar. Click Dr Sanjeevkumar Pattni Profile

 

When Shushil’s wife Rita wanted to do a degree in Business, she and Shashikant (daughter and father) enrolled and studied BA Hons degree together at Wolverhampton University travelling daily to Shropshire from Loughborough. Their graduation was attended by all family members from UK and Kenya.

 

Rita and Shushil run two photographic studios Sonara Studios in Loughborough and Oakham in Rutlandwww.sonarastudios.com

 

Both Shashikant and Shashikala are now retired but are still quite active in helping in business consultation, travelling round the world and doing their pilgrimages with devotion.

 

They hope Mahadev will invite them to Kailash one day.