This Independence Day, we bring you the story of a man who gave our freedom fighters and revolutionaries the equipment to reach each and every individual in the country — loudspeakers.

Gianchand Chandumal Motwane founded Chicago Telephone & Radio Co (now called Motwane Private Limited) in 1926.

With his son Nanik, he made the historic Chicago Radio loudspeaker system, which was used by almost all distinguished leaders of the freedom struggle — including Jawaharlal Nehru for his  ‘A Tryst with Destiny’ speech.

Nanik recalled, “I saw Gandhiji going from platform to platform to address meetings at the same place. It was then that I felt that I must find some means to amplify his voice so that all could hear him clearly.”

Gianchand was only 12 when he lost his father Diwan Chandumal Motwane, a successful lawyer.

With the responsibility of the family on his shoulders, the boy started to do book-binding and making rubber stamps and kites, earning Rs 2 per day.

Given his newfound responsibilities, Gianchand gave up his formal education before completing matriculation, but his “technical bent of mind” led him to learn telegraphy.

With his talents, he managed to get a job as a signaller with railways and was soon promoted to inspecting telegraph master in the Posts & Telegraphs Department on the North-Western Railway.

In 1909, he quit his job with the Railways to start his own venture Eastern Electric & Trading Co. in Sukkur (Sindh) backed with just Rs 300 as capital generated from his earnings.

His company exported flashlights and mobile power plants to supply electricity and telephones. To further his business in telephones and the installation of telephone equipment, he started another company called the Chicago Telephone Supply Co.

The first real test for these loudspeakers came at the historical Congress Session at Karachi in 1931, where the Congress party would pass the Karachi Resolution reiterating its commitment to ‘Purna Swaraj’ or ‘complete independence’.

Before the session, Sardar Vallabhai Patel had asked Nanik Motwane to “take personal charge of the loudspeaker arrangements”. From Nehru to Gandhi and Dr Rajendra Prasad, these speakers became the medium by which the nation’s greatest leaders reached out to Indians everywhere.

Gianchand eventually passed away on 16 June 1943 at the age of 65 in Mumbai, leaving behind a remarkable legacy for his sons to carry forward.