Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul-Awwal \ Rabi-Ul-Akhir 1424 H
June 2003
Volume 16-06 No : 198
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Community Series

It's Business As Usual!

It's Business As Usual!

If the Memons are leading in entrepreneurship, then the Bearys too are not far behind-they have excelled in setting up educational institutions. What about the Ansaris? Think of Unani Medicine and you will find scores of dispensaries with Ansari practioners! In this exclusive series on the Muslim Communities, Mohammed Hanif Lakdawala takes you through their professions and profiles

Islamic Voice, in coordination with Trend Research and Analysis Center (TRAC) conducted a random survey amongst the Muslim executives, professionals and businessmen to come up with top Muslim communities. Criteria followed for the decision was excellence in the following fields: entrepreneurship, education, penetration into the power structure, social and cultural field, and philanthropy. Total respondents were 77.
Now based on the criteria,are ranked different communities in the below mentioned parameters:

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Undoubtedly Bohras and Memons are far ahead of others in entrepreneurship.58 per cent of the respondents said that Bohras and Memons are at the top when it comes to entrepreneurship. From unorganised sector to organised sector, controlling the different markets, these two communities are doing strongly and growing. Timber, hardware, glass, stationery, electrical appliances are few of the many sectors where they have a major presence.
Hindustani Bhaiya, is one of the fastest progressing community.14 per cent of the respondents consider them as top entrepreneurs amongst Muslims. In the past, this community had the maximum Science and Mathematics teachers in Mumbai. They diversified into Manpower consultants and Travel agencies. In Mumbai, they have a near monopoly in the Bakery and Laundry sector. Aluminum, Iron, Scrap, Metal Pipes, rags (old clothes) markets are captured by Hindustani Bhaiya.

Chilyas are far behind, but are growing as a business community.11 per cent of the respondents consider them the top business community.They have the largest presence in the hotel business in Maharastra and Gujarat. Sweetmeat and retail tea trading have the largest penetration of Chilyas. Kokanis have done exceedingly well in trading in agricultural produce and seafood. In Mumbai, they are second to Chilyas in the restaurant sector with more than 50 eateries.

Heard of Mapila or Malbari? Originally from Malabar, Kerala, they are ubiquitous. Not only in India, they are visible running their general stores even in Europe and USA.10 per cent of the respondents consider them as the leaders in the Muslim business community. Small eateries offering typical Kerala items run by Malbaris are famous throughout India. Retail outlets selling coconuts is the monopoly of Malbaris.

One community, which is making its presence, felt is the Qureshi (Butcher) community. They are improving and innovating. 9 per cent of the respondents voted for them.They are more organised now. From slaughtering animals to opening cold storage to tanneries, they have a strong presence. 7 per cent opted for Navayaths, a small yet significant sect among the Muslims and living mainly in and around Bhatkal in Karnataka. If any single community can claim the credit for projecting Bhatkal on the map of India, it is the Navayaths. They have toiled untiringly to make Bhatkal a healthy and happy place to live in and have accelerated the developmental process of this palm tree-studded silvery shore.

Other communities, which came as an emerging enterprising community, are Ghanchi, Mansuri and Kokanis.Ghanchi is another community, which is doing exceedingly well, belonging to the OBC category. In Maharastra and Gujarat, they have a sizeable presence in old timber, construction, scrap, and ship breaking business.

Mansuri is another OBC category community that has made tremendous progress. It has made deep inroads in Iron scrap and Catering. Kokani community is also making a name, as an enterprising community. In Mumbai, they are second only to Chilyas in the Restaurant business. The community has a good presence in the seafood and agricultural produce export especially Mangoes. Most of the Kokani families have at least one person in Mercantile shipping, earning crucial foreign exchange for the country. This money is pumped into the business locally.

EDUCATION: As far as education is concerned, the opinion differs from community to community. There was neither a clear winner nor a particular choice. The communities, which came in survey, are as follows. Bearys are making great strides in the field of education. Most members of the community use Kannada and English for education. The community has produced a large number of Kannada writers, novelists, and journalists and has served as a bridge between Muslims of Karnataka and Kannada speaking population. Of late, the Beary community has concentrated on education and big business, using the remittances of the Gulf-employed offspring.

Memonís contribution in financing the education institutions is a well-documented fact. The recent example is of Puneís growth as a foremost education center for Muslims as a result of sponsorship by a Memon industrialist. Even the growth of all the Anjuman-e-Islam institutions can be attributed to the Memon support. The Memon Community has established innumerable madrassas, schools, colleges and technical institutes whose benefits are open to all Memons and non-Memons alike.

A Memon philanthropist, Sir Yousuf Ismail established a "NAUTICAL & TECHNICAL INSTITUTE" at Nhasa Island near Bombay in 1910 to train Indian youth in Marine Technology, which was until then a monopoly of the British. This institute was later developed in a Marine College, which was the first and only college of its kind for some decades.

Sir Yousuf Ismail also established Ismail Yousuf College in memory of his great uncle at Bombay in 1930 at the cost of 30 lakhs. This college is counted among the best colleges in India. Mohammad Haji Sabu Siddiq, who died at the young age of 25 years, established the Sabu Siddique Technical High School in Bombay in 1920 which was the first non-government technical high-school of its kind in Bombay Presidency. This high school has now flowered into a big Technical Institute.

When it comes to girlsí education, Memons are growing very fast. Since men in the Memon families take over the business at a very early age, its Memon girls, who are getting education. There are families where men look after the business and all the women are graduates and even post-graduates. Ansaris, traditionally a weaving community has taken to education in a big way. If a single community which has exploited the Bachelor in Unani Medicine (BUMS) course, itís the Ansariís. There are pockets in Mumbai, Bhiwandi, and Malegoan or even in Delhi where most of the General Practioner dispensaries belong to Ansaris.

In Kerala, social, educational and service organisations evolved around Muslim religious institutions. A number of social and political organisations formed by Mapilas have enhanced English and modern education among Muslims. They community started several high schools and elementary schools. The overall progress of the Kerala Muslims is aided by Gulf employment, reservations in education and higher rates of literacy achieved through sustained application. Farook College at Calicut in the Malabar region, from its humble beginnings in 1947-48, generated constructive movements of modernity and progress among the Kerala Muslims- it has been called 'the Aligarh of the south.'

In Bhatkal, Anjuman-Hami -e- Muslimeen spearheaded the long drawn battle against illiteracy. A wide range of educational institutions ranging from the kindergarten schools to the professional college have come into being. At last, these efforts have begun to pay dividends. Scores of Navayaths have emerged as engineers and doctors.

(To be continued)

(The writer is a prolific documentary film maker and teaches Journalism & Marketing in Mumbai and can be reached at


News Community Roundup Editorial Readers Comments Men, Mission and Machines Insights Community Series People Investigation Islam & Economy Muslim Perspective Book review The Other View Children's Corner Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Reflection Religion Guide Lines Islamic History Living Islam Islam and Astronomy Archives-Talks Journey To Islam Miscellany Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us
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