Extolling the merits of organising local industry and being ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing economic and commercial environment in India, Madras Jewellers & Diamond Merchants’ Association (MJDMA) President Jayantilal Challani observes, “The term ‘cashless economy’ may have gathered momentum now, but we (the MJDMA) had long ago suggested to our members and our purchasing public that they move to card-driven transactions. We asked our members to educated their customers on the merits of cashless transactions.”
He thinks cashless transactions will become the norm in the country rapidly. “I am sure in that just a few years from now, the whole country will accept and adopt cashless transactions.”
As far as the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) is concerned, he is still weighing the pros and cons of the system. “We are weighing all the options before us and we are trying our best to ensure that GST does not hit our customers hard.”
Whatever the future holds, Challani is sure that an organised industry can tackle all challenges. “Way back when, before the MJDMA was formed, the jewellery industry was unorganised and only a few could really make a profit. The skilled artisans and goldsmiths who toiled hard to create beautiful ornaments out of plain gold, did not share in any great bounty. This led them to discourage their children from entering the profession and we were facing a significant loss in crafting skills.”
He recalls, “A few jewellers with vision got together and realised that organising the industry was the only way out of the mess. Kannaiyalal Ishwarlal Mehta, Vummidi Anantham Chetty, Vummidi Pandurangaih, Nathella Sampathu Chetty and Chimanlal Kothari were the brains behind the inception of the MJDMA.”
According to Challani, the MJDMA came into being in 1938 with 14 eminent jewellers to promote and encourage the new establishment. Along with structuring the industry, they also pushed for the development of new derivative markets and better communication among members. The called for stronger intra-industry ties and a system to pass on valuable skills and experience. Today, the association counts more than 1,300 jewellers as its members.
The modern MJDMA, Challani says, has clear goals. “The MJDMA is committed to providing effective services and communication of business related inputs to its members as per its charter and the ever-growing needs of its members for promoting professional excellence,” he notes.
He adds the at the MJDMA continually trains and motivates its own staff to provide members with the best possible service. In 2008, while celebrating its 70th anniversary, the MJDMA inaugurated its new headquarters in Sowcarpet, known as the ‘Zaveri Bazaar of Chennai’.
The work of increasing services to its members goes on, Challani says. A specialised bullion dealing branch of the Indian Overseas Bank is being established at the MJDMA’s new headquarters, as also a safe vault facility that members can use.
Challani proudly notes that the MJDMA has been ISO certified and will continue to evolve its service offerings to its members to meet all the challenges the future might bring.