Grace, decency, humility and fairness

Appreciation – HV Sheth 1942-2017


HV Sheth, founder of Sheth Printograph and one of the founder members of the Indian Printing, Packaging and Allied Machinery Manufacturers’ Association (IPAMA), passed away on the morning of 27 July 2017. Later that afternoon, the IPAMA members and many others from the printing and packaging industry attended his cremation service at Nigambodh Ghat on the Yamuna. A memorial meeting took place on the morning of 29 July 2017, at the Chinmaya Mission.

HV Sheth was not only one of the founders of IPAMA but also the recently elected president of AsiaPrint, an alliance of printing industry associations across the most populous continent and one which continues to grow at a high rate. As his daughter Sonal Sheth said at the memorial meeting, a slide show about HV Sheth’s career and life was to be shown at the meeting of AsiaPrint in July.

HV Sheth grew up in a family of Gandhians in Rajkot and Delhi. His father was a scholar, printer, publisher and freedom fighter—a close friend of the leaders of the Indian National Congress and the nationalist movement. He learnt to set cold metal type but eventually became an equipment seller and manufacturer.

When IPAMA’s new generation leadership ran into a rough patch around the time of drupa 2016,  the old guard was called in to save the day and the upcoming PrintPack exhibition that took place in February 2017. Even with a somewhat late start and some pessimistic murmuring in the background, HV Sheth was able to pull it together and to gather the support of IPAMA members from around the country for a show that turned out be well-managed and, above all, successful. He had thought of the PrintPack brand and he was able at a difficult time to protect and build it.

HV Sheth remained balanced and cheerful in what must have been a trying time. His health was not terrific and many issues were out of his control having been decided beforehand, but he not only exuded optimism but was determined to carry out new ideas such as showing old and antique printing equipment as a part of the exhibition. In spite of huge constraints, he seemed to be able to rally support and help from many well meaning printers, converters and, of course, his family.

Often one met Mr. Sheth at events abroad and particularly at events around Asia and the Middle East. Before almost everyone else, he understood that the markets for Indian equipment were in the emerging economies. He was a relentless traveler who apparently visited more than 50 countries. An exporter for the last 40 years, he understood better than most that not everyone needs the highest and most glamorous technology. And it’s the most un-glamorous and remote customers who need more than equipment; they need help in understanding and finding solutions, trustworthy partners and services.

At this time it is essential for the industry to support and stand for what HV Sheth built, nurtured and protected—Sheth Printograph, the family company, and IPAMA and PrintPack, the organization and the brand. With grace, decency, humility and fairness.

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


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