The Desert Capitalists - Part Two

The Desert Capitalists - Part Two

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Birla Haveli

Birla Haveli, a former home in the desert, now a museum

  • More from this series

    • Part One
      The Marwari trading cast's journey from the desert to building their global empire.
    • Part Two
      How are the Marwari traders managing as India goes global?

Mukul Devichand finds out how the Marwari trading caste from India's western deserts has become a pre-eminent global economic and political force - from Bombay to Paris to London.

When Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's richest man, acquired Arcelor steel and sent shivers down the spine of France's ruling class, it was only the latest chapter in the onward march of his tiny community.

Today, Marwaris make up a phenomenally successful business community with influence on governments from India's Bharatiya Janata Party to New Labour in the UK.

Prominent Marwari families include the Birlas - whose multinational firm operates in 20 countries - and the Bajaj Autos dynasty.

The ancestors of today's business executives left their dusty Rajasthan desert homeland 300 years ago to sell paper and cloth on market stalls in Calcutta.

Granted exclusive access to prominent Marwari families, Mukul explores their journey and looks into the vast global business empires of the secretive Marwari trading diaspora.

In part two Mukul asks how the Marwari traders are managing as India goes global. Can a business culture based on traditional values survive as India's economy changes?

The programme opens with a traditional Marwari arranged marriage, and asks if the traditional relationships of the business family are an appropriate corporate structure for a multinational firm.

It looks at how changing norms are undermining the Marwari values, inlcuding the role of women, and how globalisation means that Marwaris are facing competition from non-traditional businesses within India.

We also meet Marwaris around the world who are adapting themselves as they become global players.

First broadcast on September 12 2008.

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