Diamonds Are Forever, So are Morals
As told to Arun Tiwari and Kamlesh Yagnik
One would say that diamonds and morals do not go together, given the countless songs and films on the subject, but this autobiography of the world’s leading diamond tycoon proves that they do. Picking up on the title of one of the more spectacular James Bond books, Govind Dholakia, has embarked on the story of how he reached the heights of the diamond business after his birth into a humble agricultural family in a small village in Gujarat. Without any special learning or education, with dreams and determination in his heart, he made his way to Surat, the nearest big city armed only with his faith in Shri Krishna.
Starting as a diamond polisher, he honed his trade and experience and step by step began to climb up the ladder of success. Eventually, he founded Shree Ram Krishna Exports (SRK) in 1970, to date the world’s largest diamond crafting and exports company and was eventually successful in shifting the headquarters of the diamond business from Belgium to India. Later, on the wings of his success, he established the SRK Knowledge Foundation (SRKKF), which extended the SRK ethics philosophy to corporate social responsibility.
Like all rags to riches stories, the path to success was not smooth. He was betrayed, he lost friends and sickness intervened in his family. However, there were mystic moments that added new meaning – like his wife’s vision in the Meenakshi Temple that led to the birth of his daughter. Dholakia actually went to a sage to ask whether he should become a sadhu but was advised to start a family – which resulted in his peeping Tom antics to see his future wife’s face since she came from an even more traditional family and intermingling was not allowed before marriage.
Every detail of his life is described and told in the Katha tradition to engineer-scientist Arun Tiwari, one of APJ Kalam’s students and educationalist Kamlesh Yagnik, in a simple straightforward narrative, that sometimes has a tongue in cheek twist. The story flows from incident to incident occasionally throwing up hints that are not always explained – like a mysterious meal in Russia that reminded Dholakia of another incident in Amsterdam without the necessary connection being made. Diamonds are Forever could also do with some meticulous editing to match the meticulous storytelling.
In a world of millennials, there is a new emphasis on the values that matter, a newfound focus on the self, the body and the home as a source of truth and comfort in a fast-changing world. Dholakia has deliberately chosen to address himself to the world’s youth through his approach and the message is driven home from the first page, mainly by example but also by expanding on mantras and spiritual learnings. The author is clear that he wants people to realise that ethics go hand in hand with success and in the end bring satisfaction to those who follow that path. The text is inspired by works like Law of Success by Napoleon Hill, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Wings of Fire by APJ Abdul Kalam, taking their basic core and uniting them into one seminal book.
Dholakia’s work has the endorsement of no less than Narendra Modi, his fellow Gujarati, who pronounces the work a “source of inspiration” for generations to come and wishes it every possible success.
The autobiography treads a fine balance between Dholakia’s spiritual self and his work karma and will certainly intrigue some young get rich quick entrepreneurs to flip through it and perhaps pick up on the message.