Book Review: Rokda – How Baniyas do business
Rokda – How Baniyas Do Business is a delightful little book about the Baniya community in India. A compilation of the business stories of five luminary businessmen from the Baniya community, Rokda manages to enthrall and keep the reader hooked till the end.
Capturing the life stories of Rohit Bansal (Snapdeal), V. K. Bansal (Kota’s famous Bansal Classes), R. K. Somany (HSIL who makes Hindware), (Meru Cabs) and Radheshyam Gupta & Radheshyam Aggarwal (Emami Group), Rokda manages to bring to life the spirit and enterprise of the indefatigable Baniya. Exceedingly well written and paced almost like a thriller in parts, Inamdar’s Rokda is the kind of book that should ideally be setting bestseller charts ablaze.
Where Rokda fails to some extent is explaining exactly how Baniyas do business which is maybe the reason a lot of businessmen or bright eyed B-School goers will pick up the book (having read it on the cover). However, it needs to be read as what it actually is – a biography of India told through five different stories – how five enterprising individuals whether through luck or gumption and always through the never-give-up Baniya spirit managed to thrive in India not because of, but despite a paralytic unfriendly socio-political business environment.
The book doesn’t really spell out what Baniyas actually do but that to a large extent, is in clear sight: one way or the other, they simply manage to thrive in a country that has always been anti-business. On reading the book, one gets the sense that it is not really something that can be taught. The Baniya’s greatest trait (aside from his all-pervasive frugality) is that he never gives up. He adapts. It is in his blood. It will take a great deal of psychological evolution for other businessmen and perhaps even Multinationals to react in the same manner.
Nikhil Inamdar won me over with his charming story about India through the eyes of five Baniyas. My personal favorites were the Meru Cabs and Emami group stories. Especially in the case of Emami group it is amazing how there is so little (apparent) discord between the extend families of Radheshyam Gupta & Radheshyam Aggarwal, all of whom are involved in the business. Such stories are indeed rare.
A page turner. (I finished the book in four hours flat.) And, highly recommended. Top marks! And, finally an Indian journalist after S. Hussain Zaidi who can write a good book!
Browse through the full list of book reviews in the depths of the Pensieve.