Skip to main content

Corporate social responsibility: Behind diamond tycoon Savji Dholakia's success when top honchos failed

Savjibhai Dholakia
By Satyakam Mehta
Meet Savjibhai Dholakia, son of a humble agriculturist from Amreli district of Saurashtra region of Gujarat, now heading an industrial trading empire worth Rs 6,000 crore. At a time when top Indian industry captains are still trying to work out modalities of corporate social responsibility (CSR), seeking consultants' and NGOs' "help" for a job which they think has thrust upon them by law, Dholakia has done it without perhaps having heard about it: He has “gifted” his 1,200 employees cars, houses and jewellery to their wives as Diwali bonus!
Dholakia, who has built his diamond polishing and export empire over the last one decade in Surat, told Counterview, that he has “presented” Fiat Punto cars, each costing over Rs 5 lakh, to 500 of his employees. “We surveyed every employee according to his needs. If he had a car but not a house, we arranged that. Somebody who had both, we arranged for jewellery for their wives,” he proudly declared.
Dholakia said the reason he gave such bonanza as bonus to his employees was, he was “one of them one day”. He insisted, “When I started out on my own, I used to cut and polish diamonds. Gradually, I had two-three employees and we all would do the same job. I would sometimes train them and train myself in the process.” One who speaks in Gujarati with Saurashtra accent, Dholakia “ignored” any question this correspondent asked in English language question – and for obvious reasons.
At home...
This correspondent asked him, what is social responsibility (CSR)? He just shrugged and grinned. In fact, he hasn’t bothered to wait for a law on CSR, and he wasn’t even aware. He did not have to either. He revealed, “I gifted some Maruti cars to a select section of staffers when I did’t have much money. This must be early nineties when the Maruti was available for around Rs 52,000… This was my investment. It could be business, but now it also has social spin-offs.”
The industry magnet picks up his cell phone every time, even if a stranger calls. He laughed aloud when this correspondent asked him about this; he replied, “My biggest responsibility is that I have no responsibility, and that’s probably why I am always available.” When his email id was sought, he grinned, “Message me your email and I will ask my staff concerned to mail you what you want. I don’t know how to operate the internet.”
At work...
Dholakia operates in India’s diamond capital of Surat that cuts and polishes 80 per cent of the precious stone exported from the country. His turnover was just about Rs 1 crore in 1991. His father Dhanrajbhai Dholakia was an agriculturist who wasn’t sure about the future of his four sons and, like many others from Saurashtra, especially Amreli district, wanted his sons to shift to Surat to work as labourers in the diamond cutting and polishing industry. Reason: The parched lands of Saurashtra did not give enough income to eke a decent livelihood.
“Father wanted, but I didn’t wish to leave my native village to an unknown destination. But I left school when I was in standard fourth since there were no educational facilities beyond standard five around our village in Amreli district,” Dholakia, who now struts around in a Mercedes which he has not changed for the last one decade (while the family has several versions of the world’s most famous car), informed Counterview.
It was at the age of 13 that Dholakia moved to Surat to engage himself as a diamond worker. He remained an artisan for a decade since then. Then he started on his own, and now his entire family of 28, including his parents, brothers and their families, are part of the entire Hare Krishna Exports. He said he and his four brothers and his two sons all have bonhomie. “There are no contests, no tussles about the control of the company. We all are together and so are our employees,” Savjibhai goes on. “I return to them what we have jointly learnt, what they learnt from me and what they did for the company,” he added.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).