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Muslim businessmen in Gujarat sing Modi tune

February 08, 2014 17:19 IST

It was MS Syed's dream that one day Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi would launch his website that he has developed in Gujarati to provide relevant information to the trading community.

And today it came true with Modi indeed launching his website at the first Muslim Business Conclave in Ahmedabad.

"Narendra Modi has a vision, he is helping in Gujarat's growth as the chief minister of the state. There has been tremendous growth in exports from Gujarat during his tenure, and that is helping traders like us. The benefits percolate down to small traders as well, no matter, which community they belong to," said Syed who is into the business of import and export since the last 24 years.

Syed, who has witnessed the Hindu-Muslim riots of 2002, does not hesitate to applaud Modi's leadership in putting the state on a growth track.

He is part of a group of 80-85 Muslim and non-Muslim businessmen who have come together to be a part of the business conclave supported by the Gujarat government and Ummat, a non-governmental organisation which runs a portal that helps Muslim businessmen network with each other in the state.

"Gujarat has always been a riot-prone state, not just during the tenure of BJP, but even before that. Things on-ground are actually much better now," quipped Zafar Sareshwala, the brain behind the conclave.

However, an under-current of a communal divide also marked the first business conference led by the Muslim community in the state. As Sareshwala said, the Muslim businessmen in the state are planning to start an association of their own, which may be named the Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"The attempt is to provide a structured platform to the Muslim business community in the state, and also network with leading industry associations like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)," said Sareshwala.

He added that Muslims had little representation in the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), while there were a few memebers, no one held any important position. "We had approached the GCCI to participate in the business conclave, an event that is supported by the state government itself, however, they did not bother to respond," he alleged.

So, what is primarily driving the Muslim business community in the state to come forward and network is the new generation of Muslim businessmen who want to take a more professional approach towards doing business.

Sohini Das in Ahmedabad
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