Chandiram lauded as pioneer of in-bond trading
Scores of mourners turned out at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, St James, on Tuesday to bid farewell to Pishu Chandiram, described by many as one of the pioneers of Jamaica’s in-bond trade.
Chandiram, who died on May 7, was a past student of St George’s College in Kingston, where he played Manning Cup. He had moved to Montego Bay in the 1960s, where he worked as part of a family business.
Close friend Denton Campbell, who gave a moving tribute, remembered him as a true patriot, noting that when many were fleeing Jamaica in the turbulent 1970s, “Pishu defiantly stayed” and played an important role in the development of the island’s tourism industry.
“He was a true son of the rock – a man who was extremely proud of his Jamaican heritage,” Campbell remarked, “so much so that in the 1970s, when a number of Jamaicans were fleeing the island for the United States, Pishu did what many felt was a mind gone mad. He voluntarily gave up his well-sought-after green card which gave him residential status in the United States and declared, in no uncertain terms, that he was not leaving Jamaica.”
Campbell also fondly recalled Chandiram’s exploits as “an astute businessman” who entered the business world right after high school and “hit the ground running”.
“He started out travelling throughout the entire length and breadth of Jamaica selling textiles,” Campbell noted.
“At age 18, his father sent him west, to Montego Bay, to establish and expand his family business, K. Chandiram Limited, known to the world then as India House. Over the years, he successfully established several stores in Montego Bay.
“The business name transitioned to Bijoux Jewellers, which is today a household name in the in bond/ duty-free trade with shops in Montego Bay, Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Kingston,” Campbell added.
Honoured by tourism ministry
Widely regarded as one of the fathers of the in-bond trade, Chandiram spent over 68 years as a true “stalwart” of the tourism sector and was honoured last year by the Ministry of Tourism at the inaugural Golden Tourism Day Ball.
“Pishu, even in death, is still regarded as one of the pioneers of the in-bond/duty-free trade and, in fact, served with distinction for many years as the president of the In-bond Merchants Association,” Campbell added.
For his part, close family friend and businessman Ravi Daswani added that “humility’ was one of Chandiram’s “better traits,” noting that he remembered him preferring to stay behind the scenes “without fanfare and without the spotlight”.
“He was a very humble man … a man of class and a man of character,” Daswani noted.
The second of seven children born to Khiantomal and Jamna Chandiram, friends also remembered Chandiram as a master of diplomacy, pointing to the role he played in facilitating the smooth introduction of females into the formerly all-male Rotary Club.
“The organisation was in turmoil as a court ruling against Rotary had cleared the way for the introduction of females into the all-male organisation, against the wishes of several male members,” Campbell recalled.
“With deft diplomacy and negotiating skills, he accomplished this task. However, ironically, his success inadvertently alienated one of his closest friends in his own club, who resigned as he was staunchly against the introduction of females.”
Chandiram is survived by his wife, Janki, and sons, Denny and Bobby.