Economy Decoded

Baniya Bechara


16 Apr, 2013 10:28 AM

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Two young men seemed engrossed in discussion outside the JP tea stall in D-School. They were talking about how baniyas, the richest caste are the

stingiest lot in the country. ” They spend money only on themselves and not on others.” One of them said.

Baniya is undoubtedly the most maligned community in India. A TOI article ridiculed the baniyas for lobbying against FDI in multi-brand retail(While I thought that they were the only ones who welcomed it).

It is hard for people to believe that economic pursuits of an individual could ever converge with the societal goals of the nation.

To dispel the myth surrounding the baniyas, I decided to pen down about one such baniya from a sleepy town in India. He is a man with a shrewd business sense. He has accumulated enough wealth to last for a lifetime. But, he refuses to shut down his mustard oil business because it would cause unemployment to many people.

A simple man with limited need, he could have chosen to live in peace!

All his employees have a decent standard of living, a bank account and a basic insurance policy. He even tries to ensure that each one of them has a roof above their heads. He finances the education,marriage etc of their children. Poor people cycle for miles to come to him for an interest free loan, for they know that they won’t be refused. He makes regular anonymous donations to orphanages and schools.

He has encouraged self-employment among the younger generation in the town. He invests in their projects if he thinks it is financially viable. He has purchased innumerable insurance and mutual funds policies for the only reason that he was approached by a young and promising agent.

Contrary to the expectations of some who think people related to commerce and business lack intellectual depth, he has passionate opinion on a range of issues. People often come to seek his valuable advice.

Perhaps the greatest thing he has taught the people of the town is the value of credit-worthiness. People living in far-off places and having business interests in his area, often ask their clients to make their monetory payments to him because they feel that their money will be safe with him. They withdraw money from him at their own convenience, often after a year or two. This in effect is an interest free loan to him. He lends this amount to other business men for their working capital requirements at nominal interests and make profits(A cunning business man that he is).

Inspite of all this , he is the biggest critique of NREGA(as he feels it destroys work culture) and won’t give away even a single penny to beggars. And yes, he is stingy by Indian standards.

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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.

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