Arun Mehta of Vakil and Sons passes away on 7 July 2022

A quiet and humble printer – doer, giver, leader

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Arun Mehta
Arun Mehta of Vakil and Sons. Photo: Vakil and Sons

Arun Mehta, born in September 1933, passed away on 7 July 2022 in Mumbai. Mehta is fondly remembered by the entire printing industry as a doer in the family printing and publishing business and as an industry builder. Together with his uncle GU Mehta, he was one of the key early members of the Bombay Master Printers Association and the All India Federation of Master Printers in the early sixties. He was, at times, reluctantly thrust into leadership roles of the industry associations – the BMPA and then the AIFMP, for which he thought he was too young and inexperienced.

Those who had the good fortune to know Mehta have many excellent stories about him and his family legacy. Amongst his major contributions to the Indian print industry was the conception of the Pamex printing equipment and technology exhibition which he envisioned as taking place around the country. Without knowing where he could hold it in Bombay, he undertook to bring the event to the city and convinced the Nehru Centre to hold it there, together with an amazing technical conference fully supported by his colleagues.

Arun Mehta was the first and for many years, practically the only Indian printer who saw the importance of investing in research about the widespread and diverse Indian printing industry, inducing the BMPA to invest in two research surveys. Although he saw the importance of this work requiring continuous updating, he was unable to renew it after the second survey and said, “It died a natural death.”

Another of Arun Mehta’s legacies was his encouragement of art, ideas, and culture, which is part and parcel of the traditions of Vakils as a printer and publisher. This tradition continues and is embodied by his wife Sudha and children Bimal Mehta and Sangeeta Bhansali. What better legacy than to have a family that believes in tolerance, straight-forward business, and the ideals of nation-building

And to leave a liberally educated next generation – able to understand technology to evolve the print and publishing businesses – and contribute to industry and society. All this – quietly, humbly, like Arun Mehta.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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