Title: Rokda – How Baniyas do Business

Author: Nikhil Inamdar

Publisher: Random House IndiaRokda

ISBN: 9788184005899

Pages: 240

My review

‘Rokda’ – means money. As the title suggests, this book discusses money. You must be thinking, what is there to be written about money and that too when the title is limited to just a single term! Don’t you worry because, the author rescues you from the associated dilemmas even before they creep into your thoughts and proceeds a step further with a descriptive subtitle; which says – How Baniyas Do Business.

Baniya is a caste belonging to Hindu religion. Though, the author has provided a fair description about the caste in his book but I would like to mention here that this community is very well identified by the masses as the ‘wealthiest’ of all. I understand and agree that caste system is now the subject of past then, what made the author and publisher choose such a theme to discuss a few more cases of entrepreneurship? Well, the answer is it is in their blood and this is what he elaborates, spanning pages.

As per my limited knowledge, the Indo – Pak partition led many families part away from their homelands and led them migrate to unknown new places. Mostly discussed are the ‘punabi’s’ because they inhabited the frontier region – commonly known as the border areas. They had to flee away empty-handed. Whereas, the others who find mention are the ‘Baniya’s’ because they were the residents of Indian sub-continent only and had acquired legacy during those times and it increased with acquiring those left by the transitors. They are known for their knack to reap maximum benefits from minimum expenditures.

Yes, I agree that many others do possess this skill but in those cases, it happens to be an acquired skill while for them, it is only inherited. It’s in their veins. Examples are scattered all around us but author selects a few who are well known in current time. He digs deep into every story to understand the initial turmoil and opportunities harnessed by his chosen ones. Being an experienced journalist imparts him with a creative bent of mind to present the facts in an interesting manner.

The choices made by him to understand the art of making business, are varied. If there is a mention of hard times facing paucity of money then there is a contrasting case where there was no looking back due to money short fall; he has picked instances which date back to pre-independence era to current date; he presents the overview of then prevalent conditions and highlights the transformation existing today. So, in short, I can say that he has provided the readers with a holistic view of how this gene is passed on from generation to generation. Generally speaking, this covers around three generations, which is enough to understand and appreciate the importance of choosing such a sensitive theme.

Why I call it sensitive because surprisingly the term ‘Baniya’ is often used in a sarcastic manner these days. An irony indeed!

Read these case studies to appreciate the will power and commitment running through generations to ‘make business’; to understand the art of minimizing expenditures and to acquire the skill to sustain the ‘continuous benefits’! The author has made a wise attempt to categorically discuss the problem faced, the dilemmas discussed, the hurdles crossed, the strategies devised, the opportunities grabbed and solutions envisaged. There is a lot to be learnt. Learn about – How to do business? How to think business and how to run business?

This is not just another case-study book. This comes with a personal touch or should I say ‘Midas Touch’ only to inspire you to grab the opportunity, cut the cost and act upon solutions available.

About the Book

Baniya – a derivative of the Sanskrit word Vanij, is a term synonymous with India’s trader class. Over the decades, these capitalists spread their footprint across vast sectors of the economy from steel and mining to telecom and retail. And now even e-tail.

Nikhil Inamdar’s Rokda features the stories of a few pioneering men from this mercantile community – Radheshyam Agarwal and Radheshyam Goenka, founders of the cosmetic major Emami; Rohit Bansal, co-founder of Snapdeal; Neeraj Gupta, founder of Meru Cabs; and V.K. Bansal, a humble mathematics tutor whose genius spawned a massive coaching industry in Kota – amongst others.

Through the triumphs and tribulations of these men in the epoch marking India’s entire post independence struggle with entrepreneurship – from the License Raj to the opening up of the floodgates in 1991, and the dawn of the digital era – Rokda seeks to uncover the indomitable spirit of the Baniya.

About the Author

Nikhil Inamdar is a Mumbai based financial journalist and currently consulting columnist at Business Standard Online. He was a prime time news presenter for NDTV Profit and worked for several years as a television correspondent at reputed news channels after completing a post graduate degree in broadcast journalism from UK.

This is his first book.

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