DR AB­HISHEK MANU SINGHVI

Marwar - - Panel Discussion -

I don’t know how many of you know it—but cer­tainly some of the non-Mar­waris may not know it—the cap­i­tal of Marwar is Jodhpur. I am from Jodhpur. And ‘Mar­wari’ had noth­ing to do with the vocational oc­cu­pa­tional def­i­ni­tion. This is a cor­rup­tion of later times. ‘Mar­wari’ was sim­ply some­body from Marwar; it was a ge­o­graph­i­cal clas­si­fi­ca­tion—just like ‘Gu­jarati’ is some­body from Gujarat. I am very much from Marwar, with­out be­ing in that sense a Mar­wari, be­cause I am not a busi­ness­man. The origin of the word was ge­o­graph­i­cal, but be­cause all these great in­dus­tri­al­ists with huge mon­ey­bags have be­come so fa­mous, there­fore, Mar­waris are associated with busi­ness.

Now, about your point about strengths and weak­nesses, I think it is the ob­vi­ous: strengths—val­ues of thrift very early on, val­ues of hard work... An in­ter­est­ing anal­ogy would be, if you go abroad, you find gen­er­ally—in com­mu­ni­ties which have more of these two na­tion­als—Chi­nese and In­di­ans do very well. So that’s a lot as­cribed to val­ues of thrift and ed­u­ca­tion and hard work and to some ex­tent, risk tak­ing. That hap­pens within In­dia more with cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties, and, I think, it cer­tainly hap­pens a lot with Mar­waris and pos­si­bly also Gu­jaratis.

But, I would say that Mar­waris are cer­tainly not as pro­gres­sive as those from their sis­ter state of Gujarat. I don’t say it only be­cause I have a daugh­ter-in-law from Gujarat, but ac­tu­ally I think we still rel­a­tively re­main con­ser­va­tive. That prob­a­bly, in one sense, is one of the weak­nesses. But we have a very mix­ing ap­proach to the com­mu­ni­ties we go to. I mean, the say­ing is fa­mous about the Par­sis—I think the San­jan—that ‘You will mix like sugar with milk.’ But a lot of Mar­waris too have done that suc­cess­fully. They are en­vied and some­times crit­i­cised for their com­mer­cial suc­cess, but there are a large num­ber of sto­ries about how well they have been re­ceived in com­mu­ni­ties for­eign to the Mar­waris. I have a very in­ter­est­ing example which I read some time ago about the Rajput ruler of Bikaner, Su­raj Singh, say­ing that ‘This Mar­wari fam­ily is so re­spected here—this Pod­dar fam­ily—that I am pass­ing a de­cree per­mit­ting them, or for­giv­ing them up to three mur­ders.’ So, you know, Mar­waris have also in­te­grated well. But cer­tainly, I think we are not as pro­gres­sive as we should be, gen­er­ally speak­ing, as some com­mu­ni­ties. And the rea­sons for hate are quite com­mon. I think com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful com­mu­ni­ties do evoke a cer­tain amount of it… the Jews have done it, some com­mu­ni­ties in Poland have faced the same re­ac­tion… there’s a mix of both envy and ad­mi­ra­tion.

I went to Jag­dalpur, Bastar, about 25 years ago—much less de­vel­oped then than now—and I found one lone gro­cery shop in the mid­dle of nowhere. And Jag­dalpur is the cap­i­tal of the world’s largest tribal dis­trict, Bastar! That man was a Mar­wari: Lu­nia. He had come from Ra­jasthan some three gen­er­a­tions ear­lier. He was very greatly ad­mired, but also hated, as he was the only chap there who could do com­merce and who could charge money. But he was do­ing a ser­vice.

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