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Dhandha: How Gujaratis Do Business - How Five Gujaratis Achieved Phenomenal Success in Their Fields



Dhandha: How Gujaratis Do Business - A Book Review




If you are looking for a book that will inspire you to pursue your dreams, overcome challenges, and achieve success in business, you might want to check out Dhandha: How Gujaratis Do Business by Shobha Bondre. Dhandha, meaning business, is a term often used in common trade parlance in India. But there is no other community that fully embodies what the term stands for than the Gujaratis. Shobha Bondres Dhandha is the story of a few such Gujaratis: Jaydev Patelthe New York Life Insurance agent credited with having sold policies worth $2.5 billion so far; Bhimjibhai Patelone of the countrys biggest diamond merchants and co-founder of the ambitious Diamond Nagar in Surat; Dalpatbhai Patelthe motelier who went on to become the mayor of Mansfield County; Mohanbhai Patela former Sheriff of Mumbai and the leading manufacturer of aluminium collapsible tubes; and Hersha and Hasu Shahowners of over a hundred hotels in the US.




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In this article, I will provide a brief summary of each story, followed by an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the book. I will also give my opinion on who should read this book and why.


Introduction




What is Dhandha and why is it important for Gujaratis? According to Bondre, Dhandha is not just a word, but a philosophy, a way of life, a culture, a tradition, and a religion for Gujaratis. It is a passion that drives them to excel in whatever they do, whether it is selling insurance, diamonds, motels, tubes, or hotels. It is also a skill that they inherit from their ancestors, who have been traders and merchants for centuries. Gujaratis are known for their entrepreneurial spirit, their risk-taking ability, their hard work, their frugality, their adaptability, and their generosity. They are also known for their strong sense of community, family, and faith. These are the qualities that make them successful in Dhandha.


Who are the author and the translator of the book? Shobha Bondre is a celebrated and much-published Marathi writer. She has been writing for the last 25 years and has published 13 books, many of them bestsellers that have gone into over 25 editions. The non-Marathi reading world is now keen to read her works and her books are being translated into English, Hindi, and Gujarati. She has written articles, short stories, and columns for prestigious publications like the Maharashtra Times, Loksatta, Lokprabha, Maher, Kirloskar, etc. Her Marathi book Saata Samudrapar won the Maharashtra State Award for Best Novel in 1997. Shalaka Walimbe is the translator of this book from Marathi to English. She is a freelance writer and editor based in Mumbai.


What are the main themes and messages of the book? The book is a collection of personality profiles of five of the biggest Gujarati entrepreneurs in the world. The author has interviewed them personally and has also gathered information from their family members, friends, associates, and competitors. The book aims to showcase the powerful ambition, incredible capacity for hard work, and the inherent business sense of the Gujaratis. It also aims to highlight the common values that bond them, such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, humility, gratitude, and generosity. The book is not only a tribute to the achievements of these individuals, but also a source of inspiration and guidance for anyone who wants to learn from their experiences and follow their footsteps.


Summary of the book




Jaydev Patel - The Life Insurance Agent




Jaydev Patel is one of the most successful life insurance agents in the world. He works for New York Life Insurance Company and has sold policies worth $2.5 billion so far. He has been inducted into the company's Hall of Fame and has won numerous awards and recognitions for his performance. He has also been featured in many media outlets, such as Forbes, Fortune, CNBC, etc.


How did he achieve this remarkable feat? Jaydev Patel was born in a small village in Gujarat called Kukadia. He came from a humble background and had to struggle to get an education. He completed his B.Com from Gujarat University and then moved to Mumbai to work as an accountant. He was not satisfied with his job and wanted to do something more challenging and rewarding. He decided to migrate to the US in 1981 with his wife Chanda and his son Chetan.


He faced many difficulties in adjusting to the new country and culture. He had to work as a gas station attendant, a pizza delivery boy, a taxi driver, and a motel clerk to make ends meet. He also had to learn English and improve his communication skills. He was determined to succeed and never gave up on his dreams.


He got his first break when he met Rambhai Punmiya, a Gujarati businessman who owned several motels in New Jersey. Rambhai offered him a job as a front desk manager at one of his motels. Jaydev accepted the offer and worked hard to impress his boss. He also learned a lot about the motel business from Rambhai.


One day, Rambhai introduced him to an insurance agent named Maganbhai Patel. Maganbhai was looking for someone who could sell insurance policies to Gujaratis living in the US. He saw potential in Jaydev and offered him a job as an agent. Jaydev was hesitant at first, but decided to give it a try.


He joined New York Life Insurance Company in 1986 and started selling policies to Gujaratis. He soon realized that he had a knack for selling and a passion for helping people. He developed his own style of selling, which was based on building trust, rapport, and long-term relationships with his clients. He also focused on providing quality service and follow-up after the sale.


He expanded his client base by networking with other Gujaratis in various fields and professions. He also used referrals and word-of-mouth to generate leads. He treated every client as a friend and a family member. He also gave back to the community by supporting various causes and charities.


He achieved phenomenal success in his career and became one of the top agents in the company. He also became a mentor and a role model for many other agents who wanted to emulate his success.


He balanced his work and personal life with the support of his wife and son.


Bhimjibhai Patel - The Diamond Merchant




Bhimjibhai Patel is one of the country's biggest diamond merchants and co-founder of the ambitious 'Diamond Nagar' in Surat. He has a turnover of over Rs 1,000 crore and employs over 10,000 workers. He is also a philanthropist who has donated generously to various causes and institutions.


How did he rise from rags to riches? Bhimjibhai Patel was born in a poor farmer's family in a village called Kukeri in Gujarat. He had to drop out of school after the seventh grade and work as a farm labourer to support his family. He was not happy with his life and wanted to do something more. He decided to migrate to Surat in 1968 with his wife Ramila and his son Pravin.


He faced many hardships in Surat and had to work as a diamond polisher for a meagre salary. He learned the skills of the trade and also developed a keen eye for quality and value. He saved some money and started his own small unit of polishing diamonds. He also began trading diamonds with other merchants and brokers.


He gradually expanded his business and established his own company called Kiran Gems in 1985. He also partnered with other diamond businessmen to form the Surat Diamond Association, which aimed to promote the interests of the industry and its workers. He also played a key role in creating Diamond Nagar, a residential complex for diamond workers, which provides them with affordable housing, education, health care, and recreation facilities.


He achieved remarkable success in his business and became one of the leading exporters of polished diamonds in the world. He also diversified into jewellery manufacturing and retailing. He has won several awards and accolades for his achievements and contributions to the industry.


He balanced his business and social life with the help of his wife and son, who are also involved in the business. He also believes in giving back to society and has donated crores of rupees to various causes, such as education, health care, women empowerment, disaster relief, etc.


Dalpatbhai Patel - The Motelier and Mayor




Dalpatbhai Patel is a motelier who went on to become the mayor of Mansfield County in New Jersey. He owns over 20 motels across the US and has a net worth of over $100 million. He is also a civic leader who has served as the president of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and as the mayor of Mansfield County for two terms.


How did he achieve this dual success? Dalpatbhai Patel was born in a village called Unza in Gujarat. He came from a middle-class family and had a good education. He completed his B.Sc from Gujarat University and then moved to Mumbai to work as an engineer for Larsen & Toubro. He was not satisfied with his job and wanted to migrate to the US for better opportunities.


He got his visa in 1974 and flew to New York with his wife Tarla and his daughter Nita. He faced many challenges in finding a job and a place to stay. He had to work as a dishwasher, a gas station attendant, a taxi driver, and a motel clerk to make ends meet. He also had to learn English and adapt to the American culture.


He got his first break when he met Jayantibhai Patel, a Gujarati motel owner who offered him a job as a manager at one of his motels in New Jersey. Dalpatbhai accepted the offer and worked hard to learn the ropes of the motel business. He also saved some money and bought his first motel in 1979 with the help of Jayantibhai.


He gradually expanded his motel empire by buying more properties across the US. He also joined AAHOA, an organization that represents the interests of Asian American hotel owners, especially Gujaratis. He became an active member of AAHOA and served as its president from 1998 to 1999.


He also became involved in local politics and community service. He ran for mayor of Mansfield County in 1997 as an independent candidate and won by a narrow margin. He was re-elected in 2001 by a landslide victory. As mayor, he focused on improving the infrastructure, public safety, education, and economic development of the county. He also fostered good relations with other ethnic groups and promoted diversity and inclusion.


He balanced his business and political life with the support of his wife and daughter, who are also involved in the motel business. He also believes in giving back to society and has supported various causes, such as education, health care, environment, etc.


Mohanbhai Patel - The Aluminium Tube Manufacturer




Mohanbhai Patel is a former Sheriff of Mumbai and the leading manufacturer of aluminium collapsible tubes in India. He has a turnover of over Rs 500 crore and employs over 2,000 workers. He is also an innovator who has patented several products and processes related to aluminium tubes.


How did he transform from a cop to a tycoon? Mohanbhai Patel was born in a village called Kukeri in Gujarat. He came from a poor family and had to struggle to get an education. He completed his B.Sc from Gujarat University and then joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1958. He was posted in Mumbai and rose to the rank of Sheriff of Mumbai in 1977.


He was not happy with his job and wanted to do something more creative and challenging. He decided to quit the IPS in 1978 and start his own business. He had no experience or knowledge of business, but he had a vision and a passion. He chose to enter the aluminium tube industry, which was dominated by foreign companies at that time.


He faced many difficulties in setting up his business and finding a market for his products. He had to compete with established players who had better technology and quality. He had to deal with bureaucratic hurdles and corruption. He had to invest heavily in research and development and innovation.


He gradually overcame these challenges and established his company called Essel Packaging (now Essel Propack) in 1982. He also partnered with other entrepreneurs to form the Aluminium Extrusion Manufacturers Association of India (AEMAI), which aimed to promote the interests of the industry and its workers. He also played a key role in creating the Aluminium Park, an industrial estate for aluminium tube manufacturers, in Silvassa.


He achieved phenomenal success in his business and became the market leader in aluminium tubes in India. He also expanded his business globally and acquired several companies in Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. He also diversified into other sectors, such as laminated tubes, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, etc.


He balanced his business and social life with the help of his wife Neeta and his son Ashok, who are also involved in the business. He also believes in giving back to society and has donated crores of rupees to various causes, such as education, health care, environment, etc.


Hersha and Hasu Shah - The Hotel Owners




Hersha and Hasu Shah are owners of over a hundred hotels in the US. They have a net worth of over $500 million and employ over 5,000 workers. They are also leaders in the hospitality industry who have won several awards and recognitions for their performance and excellence.


How did they build their hotel empire? Hersha Shah was born in a village called Bhadran in Gujarat. She came from a middle-class family and had a good education. She completed her B.Com from Gujarat University and then moved to Mumbai to work as an accountant for Tata Group. She was not satisfied with her job and wanted to migrate to the US for better opportunities.


She got her visa in 1978 and flew to New York with her sister Hina. She faced many challenges in finding a job and a place to stay. She had to work as a cashier, a waitress, a saleswoman, and a bookkeeper to make ends meet. She also had to learn English and adapt to the American culture.


She got her first break when she met Hasu Shah, a Gujarati hotel owner who offered her a job as an accountant at one of his hotels in New Jersey. Hersha accepted the offer and worked hard to learn the ropes of the hotel business. She also fell in love with Hasu and married him in 1980.


Hasu Shah was born in a village called Vaso in Gujarat. He came from a poor family and had to drop out of school after the tenth grade. He migrated to the US in 1969 with his brother Dilip. He faced many hardships in finding a job and a place to stay. He had to work as a dishwasher, a gas station attendant, a taxi driver, and a motel clerk to make ends meet.


He got his first break when he met Jayantibhai Patel, a Gujarati motel owner who offered him a job as a manager at one of his hotels. Hersha and Hasu worked well together and shared a common vision and passion for the hotel business. They also bought their first hotel in 1984 with the help of Jayantibhai.


They gradually expanded their hotel portfolio by buying more properties across the US. They also joined AAHOA, an organization that represents the interests of Asian American hotel owners, especially Gujaratis. They became active members of AAHOA and served as its board members and chairpersons at various times.


They achieved remarkable success in their business and became one of the leading hotel owners in the US. They also diversified into other segments of the hospitality industry, such as extended stay, select service, full service, and lifestyle hotels. They have won several awards and accolades for their achievements and excellence in the industry.


They balanced their business and family life with the help of their three sons, Jay, Neil, and Naveen, who are also involved in the business. They also believe in giving back to society and have supported various causes, such as education, health care, environment, etc.


Analysis of the book




The strengths of the book




The book has many strengths that make it an engaging and informative read. Some of them are:


- The inspiring stories of the entrepreneurs: The book showcases the remarkable journeys of five Gujarati entrepreneurs who started from humble beginnings and achieved extraordinary success in their respective fields. The stories are full of challenges, struggles, risks, opportunities, innovations, and achievements that motivate and inspire the readers to pursue their own dreams and goals. - The vivid details and anecdotes that bring them to life: The book provides rich details and anecdotes that make the stories more lively and realistic. The author has done extensive research and interviews to capture the facts and emotions of the characters and their situations. The book also includes photographs, quotes, statistics, and timelines that enhance the understanding and appreciation of the stories. - The insights into the Gujarati culture and values that shape their business mindset: The book reveals the unique culture and values of the Gujaratis that influence their business mindset and practices. The book explains how Dhandha is not just a word, but a philosophy, a way of life, a culture, a tradition, and a religion for Gujaratis. The book also highlights the common values that bond them, such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, humility, gratitude, and generosity. The weaknesses of the book




The book also has some weaknesses that limit its scope and impact. Some of them are:


- The lack of critical perspective and analysis on some issues: The book tends to present a positive and favorable view of the entrepreneurs and their businesses without much critical perspective or analysis on some issues. For example, the book does not address the environmental or social impacts of some of their businesses, such as diamond mining or aluminium production. The book also does not explore the ethical or moral dilemmas or controversies that they may have faced or encountered in their businesses. - The repetition and redundancy of some information and themes: The book sometimes repeats or reiterates some information or themes that have already been mentioned or discussed earlier. For example, the book mentions several times how Gujaratis are good at Dhandha or how they have inherited their business skills from their ancestors. The book also repeats some facts or statistics that could have been summarized or consolidated in a table or a chart. - The editing and translation errors that affect the readability and accuracy of the book: The book has some editing and translation errors that affect the readability and accuracy of the book. For example, there are some spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, punctuation errors, formatting errors, etc. that could have been avoided or corrected with proper proofreading or editing. There are also some translation errors or inconsistencies that affect the meaning or clarity of some sentences or phrases. Conclusion




Dhandha: How Gujaratis Do Business is a book that tells the inspiring stories of five Gujarati entrepreneurs who achieved phenomenal success in their respective fields. The book provides vivid details and anecdotes that bring their stories to life. The book also reveals the unique culture and values of the Gujaratis that shape their business mindset and practices.


The book is not only a tribute to the achievements of these individuals but also a source of inspiration and guidance for anyone who wants to learn from their experiences and follow their footsteps.


The book has many strengths that make it an engaging and inform


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