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Who are the major new Indian business people? What is their social profile? Business in India was traditionally the preserve of certain ‘Bania’ communities clubbed under the Vaishya order. The term ‘Bania’, in fact, acquired a generic connotation and could refer to the village moneylender, shopkeeper, wholesaler, or large factory owner. More recently, India’s commercial ethos has changed massively with the entry of businessmen from the ranks of Brahmins, Khatris, and other castes with a predominantly scribal or administrative background. The past four or so decades have seen a further widening of the social base of Indian capital to include agrarian and allied service castes such as Kammas, Naidus, Reddys, Rajus, Gounders, Nadars, Ezhavas, Patidars, Marathas, and Ramgarhias. As a result, entrepreneurship and commerce in India are now no longer the exclusive bastion of the old mercantile castes. The social profile of Indian business has expanded beyond recognition. And, in order to do business effectively in contemporary South Asia, it is necessary to understand the culture, ethos, and ways of doing business among the region’s new trading communities. In tracing the modern-day evolution of business communities in India, this book is the first social history to document and understand India’s new entrepreneurial groups. Written accessibly, and combining analytical rigour with journalistic flair, it also contains fifteen individual case studies that embellish its general findings.
Harish Damodaran is Senior Assistant Editor with The Hindu Business Line. A specialist in agri-business and commodities reportage, he has spent more than fifteen years understanding the worldview and functioning of Indian businessmen.