Engagement and Employment- We Must Emulate

The Story of Mariam Ram

Edward Luce in his recently published bestseller ‘In Spite of the Gods’ has this story.

“Mariam Ram is the wife of N. Ram, the editor and owner of ‘The Hindu’. Her company TNQ typesets, formats, stylises and edits some of the world’s most complex scientific journals and other, non-scientific, academic publications. Mariam began from scratch in 1998 with fifteen employees, now she has more than six hundred. In 2005 TNQ produced 300,000 pages; her target is a million pages a year. Apart from some of the university publishers in the United States, which still tend to keep their editing in-house, Mariam and her competitors are hovering up the academic-journal work that used to be done on site in Europe and elsewhere. TNQ edits at about three dollars a page, compared to the going rate of at least ten dollars in Europe. Mariam’s company requires its employees too have at least a post-graduate degree in their respective subject field. About a tenth of her employees have Ph.D.s. Publications such as Cell, Tetrahydron, Semantics Today, Medieval History and Polymer sit on the shelves of the company’s office in Chennai.
The business model looks robust, and India still seems to be in the relatively early stages of offshoring revolution in services.

Wherever possible, Mariam hires women- about half of her workforce is female- and she favours people from lower castes and other minorities. Most were in their mid-twenties, and majority were the first women in their families to have formal jobs.”

And the story of Lal Muni Devi is on the web. She has become famous by now with a very good coverage in media. It convinces me that land or no land, if a skill is imparted and there is a will to work hard for improving the living condition, one can do that today easily.

The Story of Lal Muni Devi

Lal Muni Devi the poor, uneducated woman from Azad Nagar village in Patna district used her dank, thatched house to grow mushrooms. A photograph of Lal Muni and the story of her achievement have been put on the website of CIMMYT, a well-known Mexican institute engaged in research for improvement of maize and wheat crop.

Lal Muni Devi finds mention as an inspirational farmer among 25 from seven Asian countries. Till four years back, Lal Muni used to work for other farmers as a daily labourer. Then instructors from Indian Institute for Agricultural Research (ICAR) brought together 25 women from the village and taught them how to grow mushrooms. Lal Muni says what made her happy was that she did not need any land to grow mushrooms, a plant she had never even heard of till the ICRA training. It also helped that market was easily available in nearby Patna city.

The Story of ladies behind Lijjat Papads

The story of the entrepreneurs behind the hot and crispy ‘Lijjat’ papads roasted or fried in many Indian kitchens every night is another such that requires to be emulated to take the millions of the families out of poverty?

It all started on a bright sunny day on the terrace of one of the chawls of Girgaum, Mumbai in 1959, when seven middle-aged Gujarati housewives gathered, to roll out ‘papads’ for their families. ‘Jashwantiben Popat, Parvatiben Thobani, Navalben Kundaliya, Bhanuben Tanna, Labhuben Gokani, Jayaben Vithlani and Ujamben Lakhani decided to use their skills to start a business on a borrowed capital of merely Rs 80.’
In 1966, the Shri Mahila Gruh Udyog was born that has grown into an organisation for women, of women and by women with 42,000 members across India rolling out papads, khakhras, rotis, and other products. Its annual turnover today is Rs 350 crore that includes exports worth Rs 15 crore to the UK, US, Middle East, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Holland, Japan and Australia. Lijjat products include spices, ‘wadi’, detergent powder, cakes and other bakery goods prepared in 69 branches across India.

The unique management system has become the subject matter of the case study at the best management school of the world. It has many laurels in its kitty: the Economic Times ‘Businesswomen of the year 2001-02’ and ‘Best Brand Equity Award’; and ‘Best village industries award’.

There must be many more known and unknown stories of the individual’s or group’s enterprises to get inspiration. I wish, the school started telling these stories to the younger generations. With limited job creations by the organized sector, these initiatives can only bring engagement and prosperity to millions.

I request my readers to contribute the stories known to them through the comments.

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