By Ranjit Butani
A few weeks back on a Sunday evening I was sharing a table with friends at a suburban club in Mumbai indulging in light banter and generally discussing the changing trends in the Indian business scenario over the last two decades. Liberalization in the Indian Economy, coupled with the exponential development in Information Technology and Communications has brought about dramatic changes in all spheres of business activity.
“Take my case”, said Nirmal Javeri, a guest of a friend on our table and who I was meeting for the first time that day, - “I am in the gift business. Two decades back my business thrived on Diaries and Calendars supplied to corporates, traders, small manufacturers etc who distributed them to their clients, dealers and agents at the beginning of every year. Now with the growth in electronics and digitalization – digital diaries, PC's, cell phones and even watches are the flavour of the day. Now I can only count on a few orders for gift items during Diwali. And then there is tremendous competition in the business because everyone has access to the internet and a potential customer has tremendous variety and price range to choose from.”
“So how do you manage now?” I asked.
“Your name is Butani, isn't it?”
“Yes” I replied.
“You're a Sindhi.”
“Well thanks to your community my business has flourished and it is no more seasonal –but throughout the year.”
My chest swelled with pride at his reply and looking around at others on the table with an indulgent smile I questioned “How?”
“You must be aware Mr. Butani, especially since you are a bit involved with your community activities that there are several large, medium and small Sindhi organizations – literary, theatre, social and various panchayats etc. etc. spread all over and I have specialized in catering to their insatiable demand for Awards, Trophies, Momento!”
I was taken aback. “Do you mean the demand keeps you busy throughout the year.”
“My dear Mr. Butani, I have been able not only to maintain my business, but have expanded it manifold and at times like 'Chetti Chand' I have to literary work round the clock.”
I was silent.
But Mr. Javeri was persistent “Mr. Butani, the population of the Sindhi community in India is minuscule may be 6 million isn't it? After the Parsis I would call it possibly the smallest in the country, but your per capita demand for awards is probably second to none in the world. Tell me, I have never been to any of your functions, but are awards given TO EVERYONE WHO ATTENDS THE FUNCTION?”
I could not meet his gaze and looked down. I took a sip from my glass and retorted “WE CAN'T HELP IT IF WE ARE THE NUMERO UNO COMMUNITY IN THE WORLD – CAN WE?”
CHEERS TO THAT!