At first glance, Guwahati seems to be a city of high rises, unrelenting traffic, and establishments that open and close every other week. But if you know where to look, you will find some iconic establishments that lend the city a unique charm. Most of them can be found in unassuming stretches of one of the oldest localities of the city, Pan Bazaar. One such establishment that has been operational since 1949 is Indo Foreign Surgico.
Located on Hem Baruah Road, it is a leading distributor, supplier, and trading company of surgical items. The moment you walk into the store, you will find cupboards, from the floor to the ceiling, stuffed with essential surgical equipment and medical disposables. ‘The store was opened by my father, Late Shri Dev Raj Awasthi. We cannot be sure of the month but we know that it was in the latter half of 1949,’ shares Rishi Raj Awasthi, son and current co-proprietor who has been in the business since 1985. ‘My father did his schooling in Punjab (undivided India), and he had come to this part of the country for a visit. He loved it so much that after partition, he moved to Assam and started the business.’
After handling operations of the business for a good many years, it was time for the sons to pick up the baton. Deepak Awasthi, the eldest son, took over the management after completing his studies. He was guided by the Late Shri Dev Raj Awasthi in his initial years. As the years went by, the other brothers, Ravi Awasthi, Ashim Awasthi and Rishi Raj Awasthi also got involved in the family business. ‘We have all learnt the A-Z of business from our elders, we cannot think of anyone better to guide us.’
Initially, the establishment used to deal in limited products but with the advances in medicine, their product range has grown. ‘Our core business revolves around surgical instruments which are used for various operations
in hospitals. In the late 80s, medical disposables came into the market in a big way. That was around the time when diseases like AIDS came into the forefront. So, naturally, our business also expanded with the need of the times,’ informed Ravi Awasthi, current co-proprietor, in the business since 1976. Apart from surgical instruments, they started to stock and sell pre-sterilized and non-reusable medical disposables. Likewise, they have also kept in tune with other medical advancements as well. ‘In the many years that I have been in the business, a lot of new things have come up like laparoscopic surgeries for example. So, we have also diversified. The market has grown and we continue to grow along with it.’
Even though there has been a lot of talk about people in the region lacking proper health awareness, Ravi Awasthi shares that the situation is not so dismal. ‘People have become health conscious. There is awareness amongst people which is heartening to see.’
Having been in the business for a long time, they are on good terms with a lot of established medical practitioners in the city. ‘In fact, we are still in touch with the first batch of doctors who passed out from Guwahati Medical College.’ Another reason why people like to associate with the Awasthi family is because they can be sure of quality. After all, in the world of medicine, it is imperative to use good quality products.
You know that an establishment is truly iconic when locals residing in the area for a long time can point you in its direction without a moment of hesitation. Indo Foreign Surgico has had a long successful run. It has withstood the test of time and will most likely continue to serve the people of the city for many years to come.
By Meeta Borah
This article was first published in Eclectic Northeast (August 2017) issue.
Disclaimer: The information in the article was provided by the management currently running the establishment. We do not claim responsibility for any false claims about the organization or ownership of the same.