Monday, 3 April 2017

Bhujia Barons- Book Review

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With an annual turnover of Rs 4000 crore, Haldiram’s tops the list of snack food brand in India, the list that contains big names like Hindustan Lever and Nestle` Maggi. Haldiram’s revenues are now more than that of McDonalds and Dominos put together (http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/haldiram-s-posts-annual-revenue-of-rs-4-000-crore-beats-hul-bikanervala/story-Mb8WfcYOopLSQx8sf7hTlJ.html) . What started in a tiny shop in the small town of Bikaner, Rajasthan way back in 1937 is now recognized globally for its sweets and namkins that appeal to taste buds all across the world. In India, Haldiram’s is synonymous to tangy snacks, delicious sweets and mouth-watering delicacies. But behind this spectacular tale of success lies a tale of grit and determination; a tale of brothers falling apart for profits and power and a tale of a family that had only one dream. Pavitra Kumar tells the story of how Haldiram’s became the king of snacks in India and are aptly called the “Bhujia Barons”.

In 1937, Ganga Bhishen Agrawal aka Haldiram laid the foundation of Haldiram empire. However, it was far from the Haldiram’s we know today. Started as a meager establishment in Bhujia Bazaar of Bikaner, the original Halidram’s served the people of Bikaner only. Soon, the word about unique taste of Halidram’s bhujia was spread beyond Bikaner by traders who came to the city and took back this tea-time snack to their respective cities. Haldiram’s sons, Moolchand, Satyanarayan and Rameshwarlal took the baton forward. And with the grandsons acquiring Haldiram’s keen business acumen, the empire that had crossed the borders of Bikaner to reach Kolkata and Nagpur became stronger and better. However, the family business was soon distributed regionwise to contain the differences within the family and to protect the brand from competing with itself. Today, Haldiram’s grandsons use three different brands under the same umbrella; Haldiram’s Nagpur in Nagpur, Haldiram Bhujiawal, Haldiram’s Prabhuji and Haldiram in Kolkata and Haldiram’s in Delhi.

The snack behemoth’s journey to fame is not devoid of challenges and hardships. The fame and notoriety seem to go hand in hand for the family. From being completely wrecked by the riots of Delhi in 1984 to the arrest of Prabhu Agrawal in Kolkata for the alleged murder of a tea-stall vendor, the Haldiram sons and grandsons seem to have encountered it all. Yet, their vision and unfaltering determination keeps them charging ahead. In spite of differences within, the family members stand with each other. 

Pavitra Kumar’s narration is easy and captivating. However, it seems to follow only the growth of an empire from within and the family issues during the journey. The challenges faced by them commercially as a business during expansion were touched only superficially. Probably the author’s intention was to delve deeper into the family that likes to remain away from the limelight. While writing about one of the most loved brands of the country, one can hardly go wrong. Haldiram’s saga also generates a deep sense of respect for the clan for having achieved tremendous success but also validates the truth about human emotions and ego clashes. 

About the Author: Pavitra Kumar was born in Deolali, Maharashtra, in 1985. An army officer’s daughter, she travelled across India from a young age and developed a keen appreciation of people and places. She completed her undergraduate degree in journalism from Delhi University in 2003 before a short stint with CNN-IBN in Delhi. In 2006, Pavitra went to London to pursue a career in marketing and worked for digital marketing agencies in management roles, spending much of her time liaising with the press and writing professional articles representing her firm. At the same time, her love for writing pushed her to freelance with the-nri.com. She completed her MBA from the Carlson Institute of Management in May 2016, and continues to pursue her love for business and passion for writing. Pavitra lives in Lakeville, Minnesota, with her husband, Dr Aditya Raghunathan, and mini goldendoodle, Lily. Trekking, swimming, reading and coffee keep her going when she isn’t writing. (Source: http://penguin.co.in/author/pavitra-kumar/

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