They worked as domestic servants and dishwashers. Today they are successful entrepreneurs
When Bikash Magar left his village in Arghakhanchi at the age of 17, he still had no idea of his next destination. He arrived in Ludhiana, a district in the state of Punjab, purely by accident, as he had heard that many Nepalese were working there, including those from his district.
“My family’s financial situation was bad, so I had to look for a job. When I left home I hadn’t even finished my 10th grade,” Bikash Magar, who is usually known as Bikash Reshmi, told the Post on a recent afternoon while sitting in a decent office he has for himself had built himself. “It took me years to earn this position and a decent living.”
Reshmi is now 36.
From working as a domestic help to doing odd jobs to make ends meet, Reshmi has now made a name for himself as a well-known businessman. He runs a catering business in Ludhiana.
Reshmi has contracts for parking and canteens on the premises of the Christian Medical Colleges and Hospital.
“I have about 70 people working with me,” he said. “I also own Reshmi Caterers, where 50 people work.”
From a poor man in a village that is now part of the rural community of Panini to a businessman in India’s industrial heartland, Reshmi’s path has not been easy.
“When I was working in canteens, I had the idea of running such a facility,” he says. “I got the order to run a school canteen from some friends. After that, I didn’t have to look back.”
Reshmi says he owes his success to Ludhiana, who gave him housing, work and the business he now owns.
Located just over 100 kilometers west of Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, Ludhiana is the state’s largest and most populous city. The city is famous for small industrial units which manufacture industrial goods, machine parts, auto parts, home appliances, hosiery, apparel, clothing, bicycles and parts and employ millions of people. It is also known as the Manchester of India.
A large number of Nepalese are employed in Ludhiana mainly as domestic servants, hotel workers and workers in small and large factories, although precise data are not available.
But there are some Nepalis like Reshmi who got rich in Ludhiana.
Hira Chand is from Baitadi. One fine day in 1988 he left home for Mumbai to visit his uncle. But he caught the wrong train to land in Ludhiana.
He was running out of what little money he had. He was in a town where he didn’t know anyone.
“With no other choice, I started looking for work,” he said. “The job I got required me to count medical needles in a needle manufacturer.”
The job, he said, sustained him for a few months.
“Later I got a job at duke, a clothing and footwear company,” he said. “I learned a lot there.”
He is now the owner of Hira Printers, a clothing design company. He also employs dozens of people.
Chhabilal Bhattarai, central secretary of Pravasi Nepali Sangh, India, says the number of Nepalese in Ludhiana could number in the thousands.
According to Bhattarai, there are dozens of Nepalese who have established themselves as successful businessmen.
Bhattarai, who hails from Biratnagar, is an entrepreneur who runs Pari Travels and Tours.
“This is a big city with a big heart that has provided employment and opportunities for many Nepalis, some of which have been successful,” Bhattarai said. “There are many Nepalis who own businesses; They own homes and drive fancy cars across town to reach their offices.”
According to Bhattarai, times have changed and the Nepalese are no longer seen as just doing things Side jobs in India.
“The success of some Nepalese here is also an example of what people with hard work and dedication can achieve in their lives, provided there are opportunities,” he said.
Dayananda Medical College and Teaching Hospital is one of the oldest health institutions in Ludhiana. With more than 1,000 beds, including 800 teaching beds, there is a great need for catering for patients and visitors alike.
Butwal’s Hari Prasad Ghimire has taken on this responsibility.
Ghimire runs the canteen at the hospital. According to locals and Nepalese in Ludhiana, it is considered to be one of the most successful in the field of canteen and catering.
His company VR Food has made a name for itself in outdoor catering.
“I first came to India in 1980. I washed dishes in restaurants. I worked as a guard,” he said. “I saved every penny I could before starting a small catering business. It’s grown over the years now.”
According to Ghimire, Nepalese who come to India to work should consider starting their own business once they have some savings. “It doesn’t have to be big. Even a small business of your own like a tea shop can help make a decent living,” he said. “No matter how old you are, if you have good skills there is no problem in finding employment. What I can say is that in a city like Ludhiana you don’t have to go hungry.”
When talking about Ludhiana, you can’t help but talk about bikes. The city is not only India’s but also Asia’s largest bicycle manufacturing center. There are said to be over 4,000 bicycle manufacturers in the city.
Loknath Pandey from Gaindakot may not own a large bicycle manufacturing unit, but he does own a decent company that manufactures various bicycle parts.
After his arrival in Ludhiana in 1984, Pandey did unskilled work like many other Nepalese, including as a worker in a bicycle factory.
Then he built himself up Pandey Trading Company. His eldest son, Shashi, has an MBA and the younger, Manoj, is a BTech graduate.
“We also make bikes, but mainly we sell parts to many local bike manufacturers,” Shashi said.
In the past three months, Shashi said they have sold around INR 5 million or Rs 8 million worth of bikes.
“We sell about 500 bikes a month, but we’re hoping to increase that number to 2,000,” he said. “Given my father’s experience in this area, I think we can do it.”
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