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Obituary: Pioneer industrialist Rana leaves behind legacy

Noor Pratap Rana
Noor Pratap Rana

Kathmandu, April 6, 2016:Noor Pratap JB Rana, the man who introduced Haathichaap Chappal—the first pair of slippers manufactured in the country—breathed his last on March 24 in New Delhi. Noor’s family is observing the 13th day ceremony on Tuesday.

Noor died due to severe chest pain, said his son Amir Pratap JB Rana. He was 78.

Noor did not have a content upbringing. During the Rana regime, his family was exiled from Kathmandu to Palpa, where he was born. Unfortunately, his mother passed away while giving birth, leaving Noor into the hands of his uncle and aunt. Noor grew up to study in Gorakhpur, India for a short period of time as the autocratic regime forbade them to pursue education. But Noor was soon cracked down by the regime, and had to be brought back. He later moved to Kathmandu with his grandfather where he completed his school leaving certificate from JP School.

Due to the hardships faced at a very young age, Noor understood the value of hard work. He was only 13 when he started his first work, a tender to cut trees for prospective settlements. Noor went on to complete his bachelor’s from Tri Chandra College. Following his marriage, Noor tried his hands for the first time on his own business in Bhairawaha. He brought chassis from Jalandhar to start Lumbini Bus Sewa.

Kathmandu was, however, where his heart was. Noor moved back here soon after the birth of his first child Rakshya Rana with more experience and a fresh vigour. He went on to import Mica and make metal strings, businesses that got him off the mark. This was when Noor, along with his partners, started Haathichap Chappal—the icebreaker of his professional career—in Hetuada. But the company did not take off as expected, leaving it on the brink of closure. “But it was his sheer perseverance and his attitude to never give up that eventually took the company to its heights,” said Amir. The factory was later moved to Bansbari in the Capital where the lane is now known as ChappalKarkhana.

Also the brainchild of Goldstar, a renowned shoe company in Nepal and neighbouring India, Noor in 2001 opened the first non-merged bank in the country—Kumari Bank. Surendra Bhandari, the first CEO of the bank remembers Noor as someone with a strong persona and stature. “He had a dynamic personality. Rana had the capacity to find the root causes of a problem and come out with their solutions. He was also a very helpful man and a good listener,” said Bhandari. Had it not been for his sheer zeal, the bank would never have reached the level it is at now, he added.

Amir recalled his father as a very disciplined man, something that he learned during the hardships he faced since his early days. “Although he was a strict person, he was always supportive of our decisions. He was always pushing us to further acquire education,” said Amir. His daughter went on to be the first female pilot of the country.

Noor was always interested to delve into the tourism business—especially in hotels, something Amir said he wishes to fulfill. He is survived by his wife, two children and grandchildren.