Monday, March 18, 2013

The Merchant of Surat

I briefly met a merchant from Surat who was visiting New Jersey this weekend. It was quite a chance meeting. I did not find anything remarkable about his appearance - aside from his thoroughly Indian-Hindu visage and that Gujarati courteousness that disarms you immediately. He personally cooked food for a bunch of Indian start-up techies who were there to meet him the previous day.  I later learned this:

He was born in poverty, and studied in a Swaminarayan-trust run school, by availing of a 50% discount in fees that you could get by writing "Jai Swaminarayan" a million times over. With his limited education, he used to walk from school to school selling ball-point pens. He later branched off into trading a bunch of other things. At some point, during a visit to Antwerp, he figured out an ingenious way to cut small diamonds in Surat and essentially take over this European area of expertise to dominate their market. The rest is history. Today he's given employment to half-a-million Indians who swear by him. He wakes up early every morning and meditates, the Hindu way. He is aghast at the sight of smart and well-educated Indians - who are far more learned than he ever was, flock sheep-like, to dead-end white-collar jobs, accepting salaries and wages from corporations to turn the proverbial nut and bolt from 9-5, instead of being entrepreneurs who create more jobs, the Indian way.  As he moves into semi-retirement, he plans to open up a thousand schools in India that will run on original Indian moral values.

This is how India flourishes. India remains, as always, the land of opportunity, if we manage to throw away those colonial western shackles that enslave our minds, and rediscover Dharmic India.

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