Shashi Babu departs, leaves behind an inspiring legacy-Mahendra Mallya
Posted on - 12 Aug 2021
Shashi Babu departs, leaves behind an inspiring legacy - Mahendra Mallya
Dr Shashi Chand Jain, Chairman emeritus of the DCW Ltd and former Chairman of the RWITC for many years, passed away following a brief illness on Friday, 6th August 2021. Son of Late Sri Shriyans Prasad Jain who was a freedom fighter and a Padma Bhushan recipient, Dr Jain passed away peacefully at the age of 88 years.
Dr Jain enjoyed a long association with the RWITC and was first elected to its managing committee in 1972 as a young gentleman under forty years of age. He was a member of the committee for thirty years with a short break in the mid-90s.
Dr Jain’s leadership potential did not go unnoticed and he became the Chairman of the club, holding the top position for ten years on the trot from 1979 and eventually for a record 13 years! He gained the reputation for not only being a strong leader, but also a brilliant orator. He was known for his firm conduct of the often turbulent AGMs of the club.
Dr Jain enjoyed the full support of his committee, the professionals, as also the members, right through his long tenure. The implementation of the inter-venue betting, computerization of the Totes and several such developments came under Dr Jain’s leadership. His son, Mr Vivek Jain also held the Chairman’s position for five years. Dr Jain’s return to the committee after a gap of ten years to fight a strong election battle against Dr Vijay Mallya’s side in 2006 marked a historic contest that he helped pull off! He was an invitee to the Hall of Fame of the Turf Authorities of India (TAI) and also chaired the TAI for several years. He was recognised as one of the greatest ever to have led the RWITC.
Dr Jain was passionate about racing and also the conduct of the sport. He owned a string of horses, buying selective thoroughbred foals each year. He enjoyed fairly good success with horses such as Tiger Lily, winner of the prestigious Stayers’ Cup, Cremona, Supernal, Gobelin, Girl From Ipanema to name a few. He owned his horses in partnership with his sons and later with the Patel family. He entrusted his horses for training with Uttam Singh, Zadmal Singh, Imtiaz Sait and Malesh Narredu. He enjoyed his racing thoroughly and was seen in the weighing room on every race day until the last Mumbai season.
Recalling his father’s impact on him, Mr Vivek Jain said, “My father was a larger than life personality. A natural leader, instinctive decision maker and he earned the respect of the fraternity for a quarter of a century.
“I have been overwhelmed by the endless flow of calls, mails and messages and so many recounted their special moments with my father. It showed the high esteem he was held in, well past his retirement.
“My own innings at the Club was under his huge shadow, to which I owe my eternal gratitude,” concluded Vivek.
Condolence messages poured in, Mr Zavaray Poonawalla, Chairman of the RWITC stated, “Dr Shashi Chand Jain popularly known as ‘Shashi Babu’ at the Mahalaxmi Race Course will be remembered for being the Chairman of the RWITC for 13 long years.
Even though he was tiring by age, he carried grit and passion to be present at the weighing room on almost every race day, including the last day of the Mumbai racing season when we exchanged niceties.”
Mr Shivlal Daga, a prominent member of the Club’s committee for several years, said “Shashi Babu was my Guru, my mentor for my entire association with RWITC. The Club prospered under his guidance. Had he been in the saddle today, he would have brought everybody on the same page in these difficult times. His passing away is the end of an era in RWITC. I pray that God grants Moksh to his soul.”
Mr Shyam Ruia, a highly respected committee member, fondly recalled his close ties with Dr Jain. He mentioned that Dr Jain joined the Committee a year before Mr Ruia did, decades ago. Although they were the best of friends, they had their difference of opinions aplenty. However, that never affected their personal relations and all the arguments were always dumped within the four walls of the committee room. Such was the maturity and forthrightness of Dr Jain.
The professionals too held him in high esteem. “Dr Jain was a gentleman to the core. As an owner he was very supportive, understanding and passionate about racing. I was fortunate to win the Pune Derby for him with his horse Gobelin and the delight was clearly evident on his face. I will miss him,” said trainer Imtiaz Sait.
Zadmal Singh also recalled his association with Dr Jain. “He used to train with my father Mr Uttam Singh and I have known him closely for a long time. His filly Tiger Lily won the Stayers' Cup. I received a pat on my back from him for doing well with his filly Sprungli. He was a disciplinarian, a top notch administrator and an ideal leader. I will miss him.”
Trainer Malesh Narredu said he was fortunate to ride as well as train Dr Jain’s horses. “He had an aura of authority around him. However, he was always encouraging and ever generous with appreciation for a job well done. I won several races for him as a jockey and I 'd single out Tiger Lily on whom I won many races. As trainers, we had multiple victories with Giant Star. He enjoyed every success with great delight and took the losses in his stride gracefully as well. I have great respect for him and his passing away is a big loss to the racing fraternity.”
Dr Jain’s personality and astute leadership made an impact on the racing industry in general. He had a vision and executed his plans with great efficiency. His communication skills made even his election opponents admire him, some secretly, some openly. He held his team together as one strong force. The major intent was to take the club forward.
Good things come to an end, they say. Dr Shashi Chand Jain lived a complete and cherished life. Like all of us will, Shashi Babu departed from this mortal world, however, he has left behind a rich legacy for his colleagues in the committee to emulate and to steer the Club to greater heights.