Manubhai Shah


Manubhai Shah (1 November 1915 – 28 December 2000) was an Indian politician who played an important political and developmental role in independent India for over half a century.

Manubhai Shah
Born(1915-11-01)1 November 1915[1]
Died28 December 2000(2000-12-28) (aged 85)
New Delhi, India
Alma materInstitute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai[2][3]
OccupationFormer Cabinet Minister of Commerce, Industry, International Trade, Government of India
Spouse(s)Vidyaben Shah

Early careerEdit

He was a Member of Saurashtra Legislative Assembly from 1948 to 1956 and served as Minister of Finance, Planning and Industries, in the State Government, and was Union Cabinet Minister in the governments of Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi[4] having held portfolios such as industries, commerce and foreign trade. An active social and political worker, Manubhai was an institution builder and initiated a wide range of educational, social, infrastructure, research and industrial institutions in India.

National politicsEdit

Manubhai Shah was a Member of Second and Third Lok Sabha from 1957 to 1967 representing Madhya Saurashtra Parliamentary Constituency of erstwhile Bombay State and Jamnagar Parliamentary Constituency of Gujarat. He was also a Member of Rajya Sabha during 1956-57 and from 1970 to 1976.[5] During his tenure, he held various portfolios as Union Minister including Industries,[6] International Trade and Commerce.[7][8]

Shah was instrumental in the setting up of nearly 400 industrial estates in the country.[9] Gunnar Myrdal, who went on to win the 1974 Nobel Prize in Economics, quoted Shah as saying "The policy has always been pragmatic ... [as] the prime consideration has always been rapid growth rather than doctrinaire division of spheres. There is so much to be done that whoever can do it always gets encouragement".[10] Myrdal alaos quoted Shah as saying "Long run growth of income will proceed fastest if instead of trying to do everything at the same time, we concentrate initially on basic and heavy industry".[11]

Shah differed with his ministerial colleagues if he felt it necessary. On one occasion when he was Foreign Minister he had a disagreement with the Commerce Minister on Industrial Licensing Policy,[12] but there was also respect for one another and the matter was resolved with Prime Minister Nehru. Another time, when Shah opposed the move on devaluation of the rupee,[13][14] there were differences with the Finance Minister that caused Shah to temporarily resign his portfolio as Industry Minister.[citation needed]

The Maruti small car project was his brainchild.[15] His most notable pioneering initiative was the setting up of the Small Industries Development Organisations and the Small Industries Service Institutes (SISI)[16] which he was determined to create in every State and District of the country (which are now also known as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises & Development Institutes (MSME-DI)).[17] The first prototypes of these he had already set up as a Minister in the Saurashtra government, such as in Bhavnagar and Rajkot,[18] where facilities were provided for starting up small units, procuring loans, providing technical and product advice, skills training, exhibiting and selling of produce through creation of emporiums, bringing together interested potential small entrepreneurs and organising seminars, and even setting up of industrial townships, such as the Bhavnagar Small Industries Association and the Rajkot Bhaktinagar Udyognagar which became forerunners to the SISIs and the Industrial Estates Shah helped set up across the country when he became Union Minister for Industries. As such these ideas of economic and industrial development were already conceived by Shah when he was in Ferozepur jail.[citation needed]

Among the institutions that Shah was instrumental in creating are the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation,[19] M P Shah Medical College Jamnagar,[20] Akhil Bharat Gujarati Samaj, Triveni Kala Sangam, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya School.[21]

Expanding the trade sectorEdit

Manubhai’s contribution to the world of trade was significant and which also set a trend for further development of exports and widening of foreign trade in India. Immediately upon taking over office as Union Minister in New Delhi in 1956, he began setting up trade bodies to increase exports and make easy the bringing into the country imports of essential goods. During the tenure in office of Premier Khrushchev from 1956 to 1964, Manubhai worked closely with Khrushchev to effect a massive augmentation in trade between India and the Soviet Union.[22] Manubhai's work with the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade[23] throughout the decades until his death is legendary. He was President of the Indian Council of Foreign Trade in the 1970s.[24] After he had left active politics, he continued to labour to expand trade with other countries. His most notable contribution to international trade is his setting up in 1986 of the INDIA CIS Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCCI) as Founder President. With his vast experience in the field of trade and his networking skills with leaders worldwide, the ICCCI flourished and businessmen from India and the independent States of the erstwhile USSR were brought together for augmenting trade between India and the CIS States.[25]

Later lifeEdit

In retirement, Shah remained active until suffering a stroke on 16 December 2000, dying of a cardiac arrest two weeks later.[9] At his death, he was the last living original cabinet minister of the first Indira Gandhi ministry.

Books and publicationsEdit

  • Manubhai Shah, 1967, Commerce, Issues 1-11, Vora & Company Publishers Pvt Limited.
  • Manubhai Shah, 1967, Management by Competence, Vora & Company Publishers Pvt Limited.
  • Manubhai Shah, 1968, Developing countries and UNCTAD: (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), 1st ed, Vora & Company Publishers Pvt Limited.
  • Manubhai Shah, 1970, The new role of Reserve Bank in India's economic development, Vora & Company Publishers Pvt Limited.


  1. ^ Parliament of India – Second Lok Sabha: Who's Who (1957) (PDF). New Delhi: Lok Sabha Secretariat. 1957. p. 413.
  2. ^ "Editorial". The Bombay Technologist. 6 (1): 1–2. 1 March 1956. ISSN 0067-9925. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  3. ^ "UDCT Diamonds" (PDF). Institute of Chemical Technology. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  4. ^ Ananth V Krishna, India Since Independence: Making Sense of Indian Politics, New Delhi, 2011, p 73.
  5. ^ "List of Former Members of Rajya Sabha (Term Wise)". Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  6. ^ Virendra Kumar, Committees and Commissions in India 1947-73, Concept Publications, Delhi, 1978, p 408.
  7. ^ Newsletter, Volumes 12-14, Bharat Chamber of Commerce, Calcutta, 1965.
  8. ^ Foreign Affairs Record 1966, Vol. XII, January 1966, No.1
  9. ^ a b Rediff News Report, December 2000
  10. ^ Gunnar Myrdal, Asian Drama – An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations, Vol II, The Twentieth Century Fund Inc, 1968, p 825.
  11. ^ Gunnar Myrdal, Asian Drama – An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations, Vol II, The Twentieth Century Fund Inc, 1968, p 821.
  12. ^ Manisha, Profiles of Indian Prime Ministers, Mittal Publication, New Delhi, 2004, p 37.
  13. ^ R. J. Venkateswaran, Decision-making in Indian economy: role of central government, Himalaya Publishing House, 1986, p 128.
  14. ^ B G Verghese, "Enter Mrs G: Madam, Prime Minister, Sir" in First Draft: Witness to the Making of Modern India, Tranquebar Press, New Delhi, 2010.
  15. ^ India Today, 2 April 2012
  16. ^ now SISI across India by the click of a button
  17. ^ MSME Gujarat Archived 7 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ now Rajkot MSME-DI and SISI
  19. ^ GIDC website Archived 6 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ M P Shah Medical College Archived 20 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Sardar Patel Vidyalaya
  22. ^ Sankar Ghose, Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography, Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1993, p 273.
  23. ^ "Indian Institute of Foreign Trade". Archived from the original on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  24. ^ see The Times of India Group website for 1975 photo of Manubhai Shah as President of Indian Council of Foreign Trade
  25. ^ "India CIS Chamber of Commerce and Industry". Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2012.