Book Review- Dhandha- How Gujaratis do Business

Book Review- Dhandha- How Gujaratis do Business
Author– Shobha Bondre
Translation– Shalaka Walimbe
Publication– Random House India
Pages– 284
Price– Rs 117 (Flipkart)
Rating– 8.5 out of 10

All Gujaratis have one thing in common; business acumen. Gujarati businessmen have a reputed history of building great businesses. As Mr Bachchan rightly says, business flows in the veins of the Gujarati community. It was Ranchodlal Chotalal, a Gujarati, who brought the textile Industry to India. It was Gujarat’s Gondal Maharaj who along with the Britishers, had laid down railway tracks for trains.

The book is a wonderful compilation of five success stories. These are the stories of five businessmen, all of them Gujaratis but from a completely different background. We are first introduced to Bhimjibhai Patel who is one of the country’s biggest and celebrated diamond merchants and co-founder of the ambitious ‘Diamond Nagar’ in Surat. Then we get to know more about Mohanbhai Patel- a former Mumbai Sheriff and the leading manufacturer of aluminium collapsible tubes. Dalpatbhai Patel then takes it over from then and tells us his mesmerizing story about his motel business and how he went on to become the Mayor of Mansfield County. Jaydev Patel, the celebrated Insurance Agent credited with having sold policies worth $2.5 billion, then gives us his life account. The book finally ends on a glorifying note with Hasu and Hersha Shah(the only non-Patel family in the book) entailing their success story.

Each story inspires the reader and educates him from the scratch regarding how their businesses were grown. These are definitely not fairy tales while there is no exaggeration or melodrama thrown in for gaining extra mileage. These are just simple stories of pure hard work and perseverance. These stories teach us so many things; I feel listing them as my learning points would definitely give justice to the book review.

1) Always Ask– We all generally think a lot. In that process we forget that every difficult task in this world is certainly doable. All we need to do is ASK! We have to approach, take decisions and calculated risks. Thinking about rejection and letting go of an opportunity is one thing that Gujaratis would never do. This was apparent when Mohabhai Patel, with no experience in collapsible tubes, approached a German company for setting up their plant in India. Not only did they agree, but they also provided him with the necessary training. He just ASKED!

2) Values are important– We need to have guiding principles and values if we have to succeed. Mohanbhai Patel was working in TATA Company. While leaving his job he vowed to keep the ideals of the company while running his own business and even now attributes his success largely to them.

3) Keys to Success– Perseverance was one quality which was common to all five heroes. They were not deterred by occasional setbacks instead came back strongly. This was abetted by a strong self belief.

4) No work is a small work– Jay Patel agreed to work as an Insurance agent after completing his Masters. Hersha and Hasu Shah actually did odd jobs like cleaning and plumbing for their motels on their own. This shows that we should be avoiding the dogmatic sense of rationalism. As an entrepreneur, we should be ready to deflate our egos and do any kind of job.

5) Trust– Selling policies worth $2.5 billion is definitely not an easy task, especially in a foreign land. When asked about the reason for his astounding success, Jaydev Patel says that the trust that he built with his customers was the most important factor. He was not just selling policies but adding new members to his family. It was this trust and personal bonding with every customer which helped him to achieve great success.

6) No Tomorrow– Tomorrow should be added to the list of words to be omitted from the dictionary along with the word impossible! A task which can be completed immediately should never be postponed. Avoiding procrastination is the best way to ensure success.

7) Now what– Hasu Shah always used to ask this question to himself. The key here is not to be satisfied but to keep striving for more. It is this question which enabled him to start over 100 hotels in US alone with notable 5 star hotels like Marriot in almost every major city.

8) Atheism– Hasu Shah says that the most important quality that he looks for in a new partner is Atheism. He firmly believes that those who believe in god would never resort to unscrupulous means. God here need not have a fixed definition. It can be your work or your ethics. But resorting to criminal ways to get things done should be completely avoided.

9) Hard work– Not to mention, hard work is the corner stone for everything else mentioned above. These men put in hours of toiling, slept for only 2 hours and ate little. All they had was a fire in them to succeed and make big.

10) Giving it back– Gujaratis really believe in giving it back to their villages and alma mater. Mohanbhai started SUPA farm which gave employment to local Adivasis, used canals and irrigation to make use of water to increase the local farming. Jaydev Patel built schools in his hometown Sojitra thereby ameliorating the education system for thousands of students.

The list is endless. The book is great and unputdownable to a large extent. The writing is definitely good, if not great, but that does not take anything away from Shobha Bondre and Shalaka Walimbe who have done a great job in bringing these stories in front of us. Inspiring and exciting, it’s a must read! Go grab it!

– Tejas Nimbargiu0007

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