Millet entrepreneur and Manganiyars

A college Vice Principal who set up a millet-based food business, a 24-year-old rural woman entrepreneur with a Masters in Physics, a musician who took his community's music to the world and 7 Nawabi Kothis of Lucknow are all in our newsletter this week

Rashmi Pratap
New Update
shraddha and chaitanya

Shraddha Dhawan with her husband Chaitanya at their farm in Nikhoj village, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra

Dear Reader,

I have learned many things after interacting with hundreds of entrepreneurs during my journalistic career. One of them is that it often helps to be a novice because if you know all the complexities of a business beforehand, you may never get into it. So it’s not always bad to learn on the go, expand your horizons and climb that ladder step by step.

Among the many people who told me this is also Sunil Bharti Mittal, the Chairperson of Bharti Enterprises. “If we had known the difficulties involved in the telecom sector, we would have never got into it. Thank God we didn’t know when we started!” he told me about 15 years back.

Last week, Shubhadra, Founder of Coimbatore-based PVR Foods, also echoed this sentiment. She quit as the CEO and Vice Principal of a college in Ooty to start a healthy food business against her family's wishes and was totally oblivious to the challenges ahead.

She sold 15 packets of her millet-based idli dosa batter in the first month (December 2016) after investing Rs20 lakh in setting up the food processing plant and quitting a high-paying job in 2015. Shopkeepers refused to stock her products and employees lost trust in her. Today, PVR Foods sells 83 types of millet-based ready-to-cook products across India and clocks an annual turnover of Rs3 crore!

How the computer science professor-turned-entrepreneur made things work is detailed in the story. Do look it up.

Our other very inspiring piece this week is from Maharashtra’s Nighoj village in Ahmednagar district. Shraddha Dhawan was around 11 years old when she began helping her father milk buffaloes and supplying the milk to nearby dairies as he was differently-abled, writes my colleague Bilal.

Now 24, Shraddha has completed her Masters in Physics and turned her father’s small trading business into a Rs 1-crore dairy enterprise. Her husband, who is pursuing his PhD, looks after the vermicompost business of Shraddha Farm while her brother helps her with milk operations. The woman entrepreneur also gives training to dairy farmers on expanding their operations.

Those of you who are keen followers of the folk music genre must have heard of the Manganiyars from Western Rajasthan. They have been using Khartal and Khamaicha for many centuries to produce soulful music in the barren landscape of the Thar Desert.

Manganiyars are a clan of hereditary folk musicians whose ancestors used to sing for Rajput kings. Today, they sing during all the rites and rituals from birth to death in Rajput households.

Their music would have remained within Rajasthan if Gazi Khan Barna had not got a chance to perform in Delhi and subsequently across the world. Through his 281 global performances in the last four decades, Gazi Khan has taken the Manganiyar music to the world.

This story has interesting details on the Manganiyar community, their instruments, ragas, Gazi Khan's contribution and much more. Do look it up if you enjoy reading about the history of folk music and the communities behind them.

Our Sunday story is on seven Nawabi Kothis of Lucknow with tales of treachery and opulence.

In the Money section, Karan has put together a list of five cash-rich companies which are a good investment option amid rising interest rates.

Happy Reading!





Computer science professor turns millet entrepreneur, earns Rs 3 crore annually


24-year-old woman turns family’s small buffalo trading business into Rs 1 crore dairy enterprise


How Gazi Khan Barna took Manganiyar folk music from the Thar Desert to the world