A religious business journey – new businessmen in India

Friday, 26 July 2013

This is the visual chronicle of a trip with a young entrepreneur of Gujarat, a self-made man, who is building a real industrial fortune from scratch. Sharing rooms in filthy guesthouses, that are a common routine for a young Indian businessman on the rise, his jeep bought two months before but still having the plastic on the seats, his and his gold Rolex to be shown and a smartphone always attached to the ear, to direct his enterprise while going from the southern ports to the yards where his warehouse was, at Jamnagar. He is a young man of 24 years already having a family to grow, a man who lives inside his jeep (often sleeps there), perhaps a prisoner of his own quest for success. He is part of the largest business of recycling industry, but of course he is at the top, or tries to get there.

The young entrepreneur and his fortune are the other side of the huge industrial development of Gujarat, he is the face of the success in this incredible industrial evolution that the leading state of India is experiencing, where any engineer I met is employed in some sector related to the steel production.  In the middle of the trip we stopped in a Ashram where the local community celebrated a feast to honour an orange deity that according to the local myths unexpectedly rose from the earth years ago in the shape of an anthropomorphic rock. Here a holy man with a shrewd face built his sanctuary.


Before going on the next day we even stopped by an astrologer. An intellectual, small man with a clever, charming smile. He predicted the future to the entrepreneur and to his travelling companion, who had been introduced to me as a colleague but I understood soon to be a subordinate. Then he started to read my hands too, after consultation of an aged yellow paper full of symbols that I could not decrypt, and predicted for me a future as a man involved in politics. A thing that is just absurd.

The spiritual dimension of Indian people is represented by this little story. Gurus and spiritual guides are just the top of the iceberg, what they protect and often exploit is a spiritual connection shared by all, even by businessmen. Call it superstition if you want, but certain religiosity (‘connectivity’, in the etymological sense of the word religion) crosses all social classes in one way or another, it is in fact a connection of meanings. Through religion and its patterns in a way India absorbs and mitigates the assaults of materialism yet, in others aspects it also metabolizes and defuses the issues related to social classes, in order to justify the exploitation of man by man and to keep the status quo. Indian religions appear fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Civil rights, or the western humanitarism, here have little sense, but it is certainly not lacking in this country a strong trade union and a political movements clearly inspired by Marxism. Religion is, however, transversal and mutual.





© 2014 Marco Palladino – all rights reserved




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