They worked as servants and dishwashers. Now they are successful entrepreneurs
When Bikash Magar left his village of Arghakhanchi at the age of 17, he did not know his next destination. He arrived in Ludhiana, a district in the state of Punjab in India, just by chance as he had heard that many Nepalese were working, also from his district.
“My family’s financial situation was bad, so I needed to find work. When I left home, I hadn’t even finished my 10th class,” Bikash Magar, commonly known as Bikash Reshmi, told The Post on a recent afternoon while sitting in a decent office he s ‘is built. “It took me years to earn this job and a decent life.”
Reshmi is 36 now.
From domestic help work to 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 Christian Medical Colleges and Hospital.
“There are about 70 people working with me,” he said. “Additionally, I own Reshmi Caterers where 50 people work.”
From a poor man in a village that is now part of the Rural Municipality of Panini to a businessman in India’s industrial district, Reshmi’s journey has not been easy.
“It was when I was working in canteens that I had the idea of running such an establishment,” he says. “I managed to obtain the operating contract for a school canteen thanks to acquaintances. Thereafter, I did not have to look back.
Reshmi says he owes his success to Ludhiana, who gave him shelter, work, and the business he now owns.
Located just over 100 kilometers west of Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, Ludhiana is the largest and most populous city in the state. The city is famous for its small industrial units which produce industrial goods, machine parts, auto parts, home appliances, hosiery, garments, garments, bicycles and parts, and employs millions of people . It is also known as the Manchester of India.
A large number of Nepalese are employed in Ludhiana, mainly as domestic helpers, hotel workers and employees in small and large factories, although there are no precise data.
But there are Nepalese like Reshmi who made their fortune in Ludhiana.
Hira Chand is from Baitadi. One fine day in 1988, he left his home for Bombay to visit his uncle. But he took the wrong train to land in Ludhiana.
He used up what little money he had. He was in a town where he didn’t know anyone.
“Left with no options, I started looking for work,” he said. “The job I got required me to count medical needles at a needle manufacturing company.”
Work, he says, sustained him for a few months.
“Later I got a job at Duke, a clothing and footwear company,” he said. “That’s where I learned a lot of things.”
Today, he owns Hira Printers, a company that designs clothing. It also employs dozens of people.
Chhabilal Bhattarai, central secretary of Pravasi Nepali Sangh, India, says the number of Nepalis in Ludhiana could number in the thousands.
According to Bhattarai, there are dozens of Nepalese who have established themselves as successful businessmen.
Bhattarai, a native of Biratnagar, is an entrepreneur who operates Pari Travels and Tours.
“It is a big city with a big heart that has provided jobs and opportunities for many Nepalese, some of whom have succeeded,” Bhattarai said. “There are a lot of Nepalese who own businesses; they own houses and drive luxury cars around the city to get to their offices.
According to Bhattarai, times have changed and Nepalese are no longer seen as those who only do odd jobs in India.
“The success of some Nepalese here also serves as an example of what people can achieve in their lives with hard work and dedication, given that 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 educational beds, its food needs for patients and visitors are just as enormous.
Hari Prasad Ghimire of Butwal assumed this responsibility.
Ghimire runs the hospital canteen. It is known as one of the top performers in the field of canteen and catering according to locals and Nepalese in Ludhiana.
His company VR Food has made a name for itself in the city for outdoor dining.
“I first came to India in 1980. I did the dishes in the restaurant. I worked as a goalkeeper,” he said. “I saved every penny before starting a small catering business. It has now grown over the years.
According to Ghimire, Nepalese coming to work in India should consider starting their own business once they have savings. “He doesn’t have to be tall. Even your own small business, like a teahouse, can help you earn a decent living,” he said. “No matter how old you are, if you have good skills, finding a job is not a problem. What I can say is that in a town like Ludhiana you don’t have to go hungry.
When we talk about Ludhiana, we can’t help but talk about bikes. The city is not only the biggest bicycle manufacturing hub in India, but also in Asia. It is said that there are over 4,000 cycle makers in the city.
Loknath Pandey from Gaindakot may not have a large cycle manufacturing unit, but he does have a decent sized company that manufactures various bicycle parts.
After arriving in Ludhiana in 1984, Pandey also did odd jobs in the early days like many other Nepalese, including working in a cycle factory.
He then started his own Pandey Trading Company. Her eldest son, Shashi, has an MBA and the youngest, Manoj, is a BTech graduate.
“We also make bicycles, but we mainly sell parts to many local cycle manufacturers,” Shashi said.
In the past three months, Shashi said he has sold bikes worth around INR 5 million or Rs 8 million..
“We sell around 500 bikes a month, but we hope to increase that number to 2,000,” he said. “Given my father’s experience in this area, I think we can get there.”