Taking the Sadbhavana mission forward, the Gujarat government is set to provide a platform to Muslim businessmen to get back into the mainstream by tying up with an Ahmedabad-based socio-economic organisation — Ummat — to popularise and help Muslim businessmen network with their Hindu counterparts.
The state government will be partnering with Ummat — which runs a dedicated portal, helping over 1,200 Muslim businessmen network with each other in the state — for their business conclave that will be hosted at the Sabarmati Riverfront from February 7 to 9, weeks ahead of the 12th anniversary of the 2002 riots.
“The main theme of this conclave will be business harmony. Here Muslim businessmen will get a platform to network with their Hindu counterparts largely from Gujarat. The idea is to bridge the divide between the two communities and bring Muslim businessmen into the mainstream,” said Ali Hussain Mohammed, director of Ummat.
The event, “supported” by state government-arm Industrial extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), that organises the Vibrant Gujarat summits, is scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Though the concerned state government officials could not be contacted, this event, according to Ali, was necessary to re-establish the trust that lies broken between the Hindu and Muslim businessmen after the 2002 post-Godhra riots during which a number of businesses and factories, run either by Muslims or in partnership with members of the minority community, were targetted by rioting mobs in small and big towns across the state.
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“This event is expected to build trust between the two communities. The cross-community business platform lies untapped, due to the prevailing atmosphere of distrust among businessmen (from both the communities) in the state after 2002. Now, a number of Muslim businessmen are keen to participate in this event,” he said.
Ali said some Muslim businessmen even pulled out of the event after the organisers tied up with the Gujarat government. “There were certain businessmen who did not want to create an impression of being politically aligned and so they pulled out of the event,” he said. However, he added that some of the participants like Rolls Royce came forward attracted solely by the “business harmony” theme of the conference.
Due to its association with Gujarat government, Ummat which has already organised the state’s first Muslim property show in 2012, has also benefitted in terms of participation. A host of 150 associations from across Gujarat, including the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the city-based Gujarat Institute of Housing and Estate Development (GIHED) will be supporting the event.
Both these bodies have only a handful of Muslims as members. “We are supporting the event because we want to increase our circle of influence among the Muslim community. Since Ummat is dedicated to the minority community, there is no conflict of interest,” said Yogesh Bhavsar, president of GIHED which has about 20 odd Muslims among its 900 members.
This event has also generated interest in a section of business houses in the middle-east. RakBank, also known as the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah, and Kuwait-based Al Tameer Group of Companies are among the 14 companies who have confirmed their participation.