Hitkari Pottery: when 2 Partition survivors created a successful business
There are innumerable tales that have emerged from the Partition of India, all bound by the common themes of loss, separation, and longing. Another factor binding those who lived through Partition, however, was the desire to make better lives for themselves on the other side of the border, and this entrepreneurial spirit is particularly evident in the tale of Kapur and Kapoor.
It was a month after Partition that Dina Nath Kapur moved out of his hometown of Jhelum in Punjab to the national capital, Delhi. There he met one Seva Ram Kapoor, with whom he set up a small garage. Eventually, they began importing bicycles from England. They named the garage 'Hitkari Brothers' as a tribute to the ones who work for the greater cause, says a report by Scroll.
By 1960, there was too much competition in the bicycle market, and, seeking another area where they could make their mark, they zeroed in on ceramics. Krishan Kapoor, son of Seva Ram Kapoor, had just returned from Japan after completing a course in pottery. A factory was eventually set up in Faridabad under the banner 'Hitkari Pottery' with an initial investment of Rs. 1.5 lakh from friends and family.
As the cups and mugs took more modern forms, the mantle of this business was passed to the next generation. By the 1980s, Hitkari Pottery was managed by three new faces — Pran, Ved, and Krishan — the sons of Kapur and Kapoor. Under their leadership, Hitkari was exported to Australia, Canada, the US, and Holland.
Its delicate floral prints and pristine tea cups were reserved for the occasional indulgence. In the 1988 edition of India Today, Ved Kapoor, Chairman, Hitkari Brothers, said,
Surprised that people are buying so much bone china despite its being so expensive. Sales have been going up and up in the last five years.
Although's Hitkari Pottery's rise and popularity in international markets gave the local fine china market a real boost, in the early 1990s, due to lack of leadership, the brand experienced a huge blow. The company was further divided and sold off by the generations that followed.
Swaran Kapur, the wife of Pran Nath Kapur, says,
Arre, now no one even remembers the name. Maybe some people from the old days, maybe those who have our crockery in their homes. But nobody in the new generation even knows that there was once a company called Hitkari.