Company’s founder


Our Founder: Late Dr. Nandlal Pribhdas Tolani

The Tolani family has its roots in Larkana (Sind), Undivided India, now a part of Pakistan. Late Mr. Pribhdas Tolani, the patriarch of the family, was a “zamindar” or landlord, owning vast areas of land. During the partition of India, the family was dispossessed of most of its assets and forced to relocate in a divided India. As many of their community members had already relocated to Bombay (now Mumbai), the Tolani family also opted to make Bombay their new home.

Late, Dr. N. P. Tolani, son of Late Mr. Pribhdas Tolani, graduated (B.Sc.) in 1945, from Sakrand Agricultural College (affiliated to Bombay University). He obtained a First Class Honours with Distinction, ranking second in the University. In 1947, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani obtained his Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University, USA. He then returned to a divided India to pursue a new career in a new life.

After a brief three-month stint with a civil construction contracting firm, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani started his own construction business which soon developed into a dynamic and respected enterprise that specialized in earthen dam construction.

In 1962, the thirst for intellectual challenge saw him taking a break from this business and returning to his Alma Mater, Cornell University to pursue Doctoral studies in Agricultural economics. There, at the age of 40 he achieved the unique and unparalleled distinction of completing his course of study as well as outstanding research work to earn his Ph.D. in a brief period of 22 months.

In 1964, he returned to India with renewed zeal and zest and led the Tolani Group of Companies in executing several challenging projects, including the prestigious World Bank aided Upper Wardha project in Maharashtra.

Motivated by a vision of transforming a contracting firm into a professional business enterprise with a strong asset based foundation, in 1968 Late Dr. N. P. Tolani diversified his business interests into ship owning and operations. His sound business strategies, prudent financial management coupled with scientific and quality management techniques and progressive personnel policies resulted in operative efficiency. The determined and dedicated efforts of Late Dr. N. P. Tolani positioned the Tolani Group on the Global map.

Late Dr. N. P. Tolani had over the years done much to promote the cause of Indian shipping. He has served on the Board of the Indian National Ship Owners Association (INSA) and was a member of National Shipping Board as well as the Indian Coastal Conference. He has also contributed greatly to the technological advancement of Indian shipping through his close association in the Indian Committees of various International Ship Classification Societies.

At a fairly young age, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani developed a passion for community service and social development through philanthropy. In addition to being an astute businessman he has contributed to the community and the country by way of various social initiatives.

From the 1960’s under the umbrella of the Tolani Foundation, he assisted his father in establishing a number of colleges and an Eye Hospital in Adipur, in the district of Kutch located in the western corner of the State of Gujarat, on the West coast of India. Over the last several years, Late Mrs. Jamvanti Kanal and Mrs. Anjana Hazari (siblings of Late Dr. N. P. Tolani) have been instrumental in the development and management of various colleges in Adipur. The colleges which include College of Arts & Sciences, Commerce, Law, Management, Pharmacy and Polytechnic, have played a pivotal role in the upliftment of the region. Each year numerous students from far and wide seek admission to these institutes. This initiative has transformed the desert town of Adipur into an oasis of knowledge and centre of higher learning.

While taking care of his own businesses, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani was also instrumental in turning around a sick company named, The Gandhidham Spinning and Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (subsidiary of Sindhu Resettlement Corporation Ltd.). This Company was on the verge of closure and hundreds of workers stood to lose their jobs. On humanitarian grounds, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani took charge of the Company, turned it around, enabling it to pay off all its debts and liabilities and put the Company on the path of progress.

From the 1980’s, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani focused his philanthropic initiatives in the field of education in his home State of Maharashtra. In the year 1989, he established the Tolani College of Commerce in Mumbai. After a humble beginning, this college is today recognized as a high quality institution for commerce education in the Western suburbs of the Mumbai metropolis. The College currently caters to students (community) in excess of 3,000.

A decade later, with vast experience in shipping, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani committed himself to developing a world class Maritime Training Institute in India. His inspiration to establish a campus based institution came from his two stints at Cornell University, which arguably has one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. It was his desire to ensure that in the face of growing competition from other countries like China and Philippines, India maintains its pre-eminence as a provider of high quality manpower to the global shipping industry. Tolani Maritime Institute was established in the year 1998 in collaboration with Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani. Today, Tolani Maritime Institute near Pune, affiliated to the Indian Maritime University (IMU), is a center of excellence in maritime education. It has an enviable campus with facilities that have been leveraged for an ultimate learning experience. A dedicated professional team of academicians and maritime experts have enabled TMI to become one of the best maritime training institutes in the country.

It is noteworthy that Late Dr. N. P. Tolani’s initiatives for promoting education in India today have an annual enrolment of about 5,000 students.

Late Dr. N. P. Tolani has been the recipient of a number of awards and recognitions. For his outstanding contribution to the Maritime Sector, more so in the area of maritime education and training, he was bestowed upon the “Varuna Award” in 2002 by the National Maritime Celebration Committee. He has been awarded “Honorary Fellowship” by the Nautical Institute, London in 2004. Narottam Morarjee Institute of Shipping, a leading Maritime Training Institute of India in 2011 conferred “Honorary Fellowship” on Late Dr. N. P. Tolani for his dedication of selfless and lifetime services to the Indian Maritime Industry.

Complimenting his entrepreneurial drive, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani was an avid sportsman. According to him, Bridge is an immensely intellectual and fascinating game and had been his passion. An accomplished bridge player, he represented India at international competitions including the Bridge Olympiad.

His love for water and water sports is well known. He has been a swimmer since his Larkana days. At the peak of his swimming days he would swim 1 km a day. He once even swam 3 miles from Mandwa to Seagull Island. A keen sailor with an adventurous spirit he has braved the ocean several times between Mumbai and Goa in small open sailing crafts. He feels sailing is an exhilarating sport, and says “when you are sailing you are one with nature”.

He supported generously Bridge and Sailing, sports which had been neglected sport in India. He promoted the sports amongst the youth of the Country. He had sponsored National Level competitive bridge and sailing events. Both these sports continue to be supported by the Tolani group.

Late Dr. N. P. Tolani, a true visionary, was taking active interest in business operations and continued to support his social initiatives even when he was in his 90s. He would swim 600 to 700 meters every day even at an advanced age. His energy levels and fertile mind surpassed many a younger soul and would put many to shame.

To most, Late Dr. N. P. Tolani’s success is gauged by his business accomplishments. However, more than his achievements in business he measured his success by his contributions to the social fabric of his Country. With the firm belief in the importance of the role of education in today’s world and a passion to serve humanity, his story continues….