Key Members & Associates

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Mahendra Kumar Jain

(1947 - 2022)

Mahendra Kumar Jain was the chairman of RM Group, India till he moved to his heavenly abode in novemebr 2022.  He was a leading businessman of Bhopal, with over forty-five years of experience that comes from knowing his enterprise from the ground up. A mechanical engineer with a Master of Science degree from Oklahoma State University, USA, he controls the group’s financial and commercial aspects.

Childhood, education, early career and values

Growing up, Mahendra Jain shared a close relationship with his mother Badami Devi, and imbibed many of the values he is known for from her. An idealist, he is known for his clear code of ethics and uncompromising honesty.

As a young man, he was witness to the growth of the company from a mid-sized agency to the sprawling conglomerate it is today. He still recalls travelling by car to Galla Mandi in Bhopal for the inauguration of their mills in 1953, and to Delhi with his father for a Rotary conference. He has also been a witness to key events such as seeing flights take off for the first time at Palam airport, and the agitation in the mid-fifties which his father Babulalji Jain took part in to oppose sales tax policies being introduced in the state.

A gold medallist throughout his life, Mahendra Jain was a merit student, placing 24th in the state matriculation exams in 1964. He acquired his engineering degree from the Maulana Azad College of Technology (now the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology) and was the first in his community to travel abroad for his further education. This came about rather by chance than by design. Egged on by his friend who was applying to institutions in America, Mahendra Jain applied himself and was accepted at six universities, all of which offered him a full scholarship. Still, his father was reluctant to send his son to a foreign land to study, and it took the intervention of Chatur Narayan Malviya, who had spent two years in Vienna, to convince his friend Babulalji that the move would be in Mahendra’s best interest.

The day he reached America, 20th July 1969, is etched in Mahendra Jain’s mind, as it was also the day Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, and people everywhere were glued to their television sets to watch the momentous event. It was the first time he had watched television, and it forever remained a striking memory for him.

Mahendra recalls a supportive network of Indian students at the university, whom he often tutored, helping them to excel in class alongside him. Every Saturday, there would be a student meet to discuss classes, with drinks and non-vegetarian snacks laid out, but Mahendra never touched them. Curious, one of the American students one day asked him why. When he replied that he was a vegetarian, the boy remarked, “Why, but you look quite healthy!”

“It was funny,” Mahendra Jain recalls. “It was generally assumed by Americans at the time that if you didn’t eat meat, you were probably weak and undernourished. Today of course, many of them are more pro-vegetarianism than some Indians!” To help with the food problem, Babulalji would send his son a canister of spices by ship every three months, which Mahendra would use to cook his own meals. He also carried his own drinking water with him wherever he went, another habit acquired from his mother.

Mahendra went on to complete his MS degree from Oklahoma University in 1972. In those days, foreign education was a cause for much attention, and a small crowd had gathered at the airport for his send-off to America in 1969. It was the same on his return in 1973, when people were curious to see how his years abroad had changed him. Back in India, he was offered a job by the Birla group, which he declined. He considered starting a business of his own, but the red tape, corruption and bribery involved turned him off. Eventually, he decided to stay with academia and went on to teach mechanical drawing for more than forty years at his alma mater, MANIT in Bhopal. He would divide his time between his faculty accommodation at the university campus and the city house in Jumerati, travelling there each day after classes to help look after the financial part of the family business.

Though a finance wiz, Mahendra Jain remains singularly indifferent to personal wealth, and had never considered accumulating wealth as a purpose of life, there are many incidents narrated by his friends and compatriots where he has let go of his salary or donated it 100% in pursuit of helping others.

He also stood by the values with which he had grown up. He advocated dignity of labour not just in voice, but in action, and would not shy away from loading and unloading goods himself when the occasion demanded. In his company, everyone from loaders and labourers to peons and drivers were treated with respect. This, along with his belief in universal charity were values that he added to the family roster.

Mahendra Jain is an avid reader, and is said to have read every book in the erstwhile British Council Library and Central Library in Bhopal. The family would get six or seven newspapers each day, which he read along with listening to the BBC Hindi Seva world news on the radio every morning. He is also ambidextrous and fond of poetry, though his expertise remains in engineering and finance.

A financial ace, his reputation for unearthing money in the unlikeliest of places for projects is legendary. Yet he remains modest and unassuming. Many of his students today hold senior positions around the globe, something he has never used to either his personal or business advantage.

Philanthropic and other concerns

Firm believers in gupt-daan, or charity without publicity, Mahendra Jain and his family run a free homeopathy clinic in Panchsheelnagar in their father’s name, that was started after Babulal Jain’s death. The clinic, Swargiya Babulal Jain Samanya Chikitsalaya, was initially run out of a temple, but had to be moved to another location when the temple authorities began raising objections about all castes and religions being treated on temple premises.

Mahendra Jain is also an active Rotarian and is involved in several social causes. His wife Mrs. Sadhna Mahendra Jain has, in the recent past, been very involved with the Rotary Inner Wheel, of which she has previously been district chairman.

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Surendra Jain

(1953 - 2006)

Surendra Jain is credited with the considerable achievement of expanding the family’s business from a trading to a manufacturing enterprise. Of all Babulal Jain’s children, Surendra was considered the most similar in disposition to his father. He had a charismatic, larger-than-life personality, and a way of winning people over with his large-handedness and geniality.

After his premature death of a heart attack at the age of fifty-three in 2006, his brothers had a temple rathh (chariot) built in his memory.

Childhood, education, early career and values

Surendra joined the family business early at the age of sixteen in 1969, when his older brother Mahendra left for the US to study engineering. Unwilling to give up his own studies, he completed his BCom, MCom and LLB degrees attending night classes at Barkatullah University, and acquired a Bachelor of Music degree from Allahabad University alongside. As his father’s health worsened, he took over most of the responsibilities of the business. The Hindustan Lever dealership especially, saw remarkable growth under him. In 1983, he developed pulmonary oedema and was forced to slow down and take it easy.

Philanthropic and other concerns

A sitar player, Surendra Jain remained deeply interested in music throughout his life, supporting the Abhinav Kala Parishad and establishing the Sur Mandir Sangeet Parikshan Kendra, which he would frequent often.

Generous to a fault, he was known to advance large sums as loans to labourers without considering if they would ever be able to repay them.

He was fascinated by the gifted Indian mathematician Shakuntala Devi and spent a fortune on appointments with her when she visited Bhopal in 1982. She told him that numerologically, the number six was lucky for him. By that time, the company was producing the 501 soap bar and as its numerals added up to six, the figure 501 became even more of a talisman for the family.

Notable accolades

Surendra Jain was president of the Rotary Club, Bhopal in 1988. He was closely associated with the Bhopal Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Bhopal Management Association, the Jain Social Group International Federation, and Mahavir International.

In continuation with the eye donation pledged by his father, Surendra Jain’s eyes were donated after his passing.

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Sunil Jain

(Born 1963)

Sunil Jain is the managing director of RMJ Agencies. He heads the distribution arm of the family, overseeing the distribution of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) in Bhopal and Indore.

Childhood, education, early career and values

Growing up as the youngest and most indulged member of the Jain family, Sunil remembers a charmed childhood in the Jumerati house. Unlike his siblings, he attended Campion School, though in 1965 when he was just two, he contracted polio and also had to spend three years in a hospital in Mumbai. Sunil grew up a left hander, something that his extended family tried to correct at the time, considering it a flaw. “They gave up when they realised it was something normal,” he says.

He joined the family business at the age of eighteen, when his brother Surendra Jain fell ill. He had got admission to study engineering, but once he got involved in the business, he had to give it up and complete his graduation in commerce instead. He graduated from Barkatullah University, Bhopal with a B. Com in Marketing and an LLB degree.

Philanthropic and other concerns

Sunil Jain’s style of working was greatly influenced by that of his older brother Surendra and father Babulalji Jain. His office at Jumerati was known to be a place where one could always go for help. On any given day, there would be a constant stream of people who needed support, or political parties coming in for donations. He would ensure that no one left his door empty-handed, a custom he attributes to both in his maternal grandfather and his father.

His time at Campion had garnered him a well-educated circle of friends, many of whom went on to become prominent doctors. This helped him to offer medical advice and references to many other people in need. Today he is a trustee of Mahaveer Medical College, to whose establishment he has contributed significantly.

Notable accolades

In 2016, Anil Bhandari of Indore approached Sunil Jain to discuss establishing the Bhopal branch of the Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO). Sunil agreed, and based on his vast contacts and reputation, built up a huge membership for the branch, of which he is the now the chairman.

He also holds key positions with many professional bodies:

  • Working President of MP State Automobiles Association

  • President of the Distributors Association of Bhopal

  • Founder member of the Confederation of MP for Industry, Service & Trade

  • Vice President of the Bhopal Chamber of Commerce and Industry

  • Executive committee member of the Federation of Madhya Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Bhopal

  • Vice President of the Bhopal Digamber Jain Samaj Chowk Trust

  • Trustee and former Chairman of the Mahaveer Institute of Medical Sciences and Research

Sunil Jain takes the responsibility of representing the Jain business community, especially distributors, seriously. He has always championed the important role the community plays, including during the recent lockdowns, and has consistently advocated on their behalf. His contribution to PM Cares Fund was also noted by Rotary International.

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Rakesh Surendra Jain

Rakesh Jain has an experience of twenty-five years and is admired for his astute understanding of industrial operations. With a keenly analytical mind able to evaluate and understand the crux of an issue, he has spearheaded the group’s multiple portfolios and expanded the company’s operational footprint, all while keeping his finger on the pulse of the customer. He holds a BE in Mechanical Engineering from Pune University and a Diploma in Business Management from IIM Ahmedabad. He is also the chairman of RM Phosphates & Chemicals Pvt Ltd. An excellent administrator, he plays the part of enabler, continually motivating his teams.

Childhood, education, early career and values

Rakesh Jain grew up in Ajmer, where his mother Indrakanta had moved after marrying his father Surendra Kumar Jain. Surendra Kumar’s family had migrated from Bhind to escape from the infamous Chambal Ghaati dacoits, who took Surendra’s grandfather’s life. They first settled in Agra and later in Ajmer.

In 1971, Surendra Kumar started his own steel rolling mill. “I was so excited to see how a real factory worked,” Rakesh says. “I believe actual exposure to different kinds of industries and industry scales teaches you to imagine possibilities that mere education doesn’t. It was an important part of my childhood.”

Surendra Kumar later moved to Bhopal in 1991, where he continued to trade in iron.

Rakesh acquired his Pune University engineering degree in 1992 1st engineer in his father family. Even  when very young, he was quite sure that he would one day start his own business. He began by first working with his father Surendra Kumar and then with his maternal grandfather Babulalji Jain. “Unfortunately, my own family business doesn’t suits to my qualification and didn’t operate with the same principles and discipline that Babulalji’s did, and although I was very keen to join my father’s business, it was not an opportune time. I’m  still sentimental about the factory set up by my father back in Ajmer, though.”

In the winter of 1994, a chance conversation just as he was about to pack up and leave for Ajmer to run the steel rolling mill set would change everything and start them on a new path to the future. Rakesh was with his uncle Sunil in the Jumerati shop and asked him about an application to set up a plant that they had submitted a few weeks earlier to Hindustan Lever, as it was called at the time. Sunil pulled out the file and called his business associate Dilip Saigal, who headed sales at Hindustan Lever. Saigal informed him that they had decided to go with someone else. Instead of giving up, Sunil Jain quickly made a few calls and set up a meeting in Bombay with Hindustan Lever’s technical manager, a Mr. Chadha. Rakesh immediately cancelled his plans to return to Ajmer and was sent that very night to Aurangabad to do a survey, where the plant was initially meant to be located.

Although there would be further discussions before the deal was finalised, the resourceful move proved fruitful, and would lead to the group not only getting the go-ahead for the plant, but eventually becoming one of Hindustan Lever’s most distinguished suppliers.