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Commerce with the UniverseAfrica, India, and the Afrasian Imagination$
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Gaurav Desai

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164542

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164542.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Commerce as Romance

Commerce as Romance

Mehta, Madhvani, Manji

(p.112) 5. Commerce as Romance
Commerce with the Universe

Gaurav Desai

Columbia University Press

This chapter presents a reading of the autobiographies of Nanji Kalidas Mehta, the founder of the multinational Mehta Group; Muljibhai Madhvani, the founder of the Madhvani Group; and Kenyan entrepreneur Madatally Manji to show how commercial success is contingent upon a whole array of factors—structural, informational, economic, technical, managerial, and, often, just sheer luck. In so doing it seeks to complement the already formidable scholarly literature in East African economic theory and history by providing a more personal, flesh-and-blood account of commercial behavior than is often called for by the more abstract and quantitative demands of the disciplines of economics and commercial history. The chapter also aims to debunk the all-too-common assumption that men of commerce, being too devoted to the pursuit of economic gain, are disconnected from the life of the imagination. On the contrary, it highlights the role of the imagination—literary, religious, national, philanthropic, and cosmopolitan—in the making of commercial men.

Keywords:   autobiographies, Nanji Kalidas Mehta, Muljibhai Madhvani, Madatally Manji, entrepreneurs, East African economic theory, imagination

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