Open a phone book anywhere in the world and you’re sure to find a few Patels listed in there. It’s not really surprising because Gujaratis are the largest segment of non-resident Indians (NRIs), and they’ve established themselves all over the world. What helps them trail the path of success wherever they go? Two things – their innate business skills and their undying loyalty to Gujarati customs and traditions.
Gujarat has always been a center of trade – and it is trade and business that took Gujaratis overseas. They’ve been active traders in Africa since the 13th century. Now there are sizable Gujarati populations in countries like South Africa, USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, East African countries, Australia, Malaysia and the Middle East.
From small time traders to big businessmen
The Gujarati shopkeeper is a big stereotype, and with good reason. Many of the first generation immigrants started off as shopkeepers and small traders. Later generations have branched out considerably. Yes. Today you’ll find physicians, scientists, engineers, hoteliers and other professionals of Gujarati origin in most countries. But it’s in business that Gujaratis have made their mark, and their economic clout is tremendous. In the US, for example, they have major stakes in the hotel, diamond and the garment industry.
Holding on to familial bonds and values
It’s all about family unity for Gujaratis. And once somebody is well settled in a foreign land, he usually takes his family along. And not just the immediate family; he’ll welcome his extended family as well. This willingness to help each other out is what makes them thrive and make it big wherever they are. And they have had some phenomenal success as a community in all their adopted lands.
Organizations aimed at looking after the welfare of Gujaratis and preserving values and culture are found in all places that have a sizable Gujarati population. These organizations are also in the forefront when it comes to organizing celebrations and festivals of India. Gujaratis have always managed to stay connected to their motherland, and the diaspora has done yeoman service to the state of Gujarat – helping out in times of calamities, investing in businesses and projecting the state as an investment destination.
Is there an inherent spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship in Gujaratis? Will future generations of Gujaratis abroad keep the special bond with their motherland? Should Gujaratis integrate more into the culture of their adopted lands?