Creating The Omani Bania Archive

The practice of history is a battle against forgetting. The creation of digital or citizen archive on specific histories with a small ‘h’ is an important intervention in the landscape of temporary memories. Millions of Asians have worked in the Gulf, and some communities such as Kutchi Banias have been there for centuries. Why are there no repository of stories and artefacts to remember these lives?

Hardik H. Ramaiya Bhai (a third generation Bania in Muscat) and me are trying to do something small in this regard by helping create the Omani Bania Archive before the memory gets lost in to the black box of itehaas or tarikh.

Or the Malayali Doctors and Nurses who help built the healthcare system in the Gulf? We are not unique, as the Egyptians and Palestinians have done more than us.


Start ups often focus much on vanity and valuation greed than long term cash flow oriented thinking. A few things still are very non digital; people, profit and passion. Let’s build early stage ventures which are in the healthcare, sustainability and infrastructure space. I am not talking about an aggregator or an app here.

Let’s take lessons from the Banias and Chettiars who have built multi generation businesses. History can offer us various lessons as anthropology can give cues about the end customer and the strategic culture in the market.

Every career is also an entrepreneurial journey. Think about it.

Conversations with an Auto Wallah: Digital/Non Digital

In a longish conversation in an auto ride, the driver from Etawah, Mulayam Land pointed out to me a Mall where previously there was a chowpatty, a food centre where he worked as a twelve year old cleaner, on twenty rupees per day. He spoke with a glint of nostalgia in his eye.

There are so many narratives of survival which internal migrants within India face which are simply not heard. As an auto wallah, he complained about the late payments from OLA upto a week late, which is too late for a person who survives on daily income generated from his fumbling vehicle. The digital ecosystem seems to be crumbling at its edges. More in a separate article.

For a former child labour to an auto wallah, he surely projects the confidence of a self made man.

#urbanmargins #pune


A litany of half homes

Or is it a quarter

Rented studios to hostel rooms

The backpack is belonging

Artefacts of life

More than placeholder

For another placeholder

Belonging is often a smile

An acknowledgment of acceptance

Than an ownership deed


The Hype on JNU

It seems JNU ( in South Delhi near to the media offices including NDTV) is the only place people get to study. The future of work seems to be an alien concept in the Indian Imagination on Education. Let’s have a conversation on how the socioeconomically marginalised can get a future where livelihood security is possible.

Being Indian.

sense of being Indian is carved by being the ‘other’ migrant all my life in different parts of Asia. I understand the value of the blue travel document at the immigration as not only a access card but as a representation of the post colonial nation state, which stands for a set of ideas.

A strong foreign policy makes me glad, although we have much work to do in other areas. We are a sub continent of various sub nationalities, tied by the sense of being Indian. However this means various things to various people, and we should allow space for that articulation. It is a dynamic construct, allow the evolution.

I understand why people migrate. But they all remain Indian, searching for the ragda patice on Friday in Muscat.

DeMo: How will History Judge it?

Third Anniversary of the tectonic event that changed New India. History gives the luxury of looking back and eventually politics loses meaning and sense prevails.

When I said the same regarding people losing income on BBC and Forbes three years back, I saw the birth of a digital delusion. The feeling of watching the middle class suffer delighted many as the very people lost their jobs in the informal sector. Perverse thinking at best.