Every person leaves childhood back but with few streaks of memories from the past. Sanjay Kachru, who during the past couple of decades changed many hats, not just to survive, but to also put together an enterprise which was not his forte. Today he has not just evolved himself, but has also been able to establish two brands in the garment industry which are growing by the click.
Excerpts from an interaction with Rajesh Prothi.
As a kashmiri, what kind of challenges did your face while you were trying to establish yourself in this part of the world?
S. Kachru: It was way back in early 1990s when I moved out of Kashmir. Honestly speaking, it was not an experience I had thought of or ever wanted. Moving from a place where you have grown up, where all your family and friends is never ever an easy experience. It has its own share of pros & cons, it own set of ups & downs. It is like you are faced with new kind of challenges once you move out of your comfort zone. In my case, it was a question of survival. But the biggest challenge, which stood right in front of me, was the language. Despite the fact, that I am studied in a Missionary School (Tyndle Biscoe School) which is a English medium school, I had an issue with the language. My lack of fluency in hindi which is spoken in this part of the Country was one challenge, and Kashmiri accented hindi and English was like icing on the cake. To top it all, the fast moving life of Delhi city initially was too much for me. But the School motto “In all things be men’ and the things one had learned and made part of ones life did come handy. I had the feeling that “kuchkarnahai (I have to do something) was all I had, and this worked well despite ups & downs in my life here.
Out of Kashmir, how were the initial days in Delhi?
S. Kachru: Initial days in Delhi were very interesting and out of this world. I was like living with a family which had three dogs, all of them German Sheppard and they believed in sleeping under my cot. Each time they decided to getup and bark, I used to up with them. But over a period of time I got used this routine of theirs. From there I moved a sharing accommodation with an auto driver. That was also an interesting phase in my life. I still remember that my room partner, an auto driver used to drop my half every day till we stayed together.
That was one part of your fight to survive. How about your professional journey?
S. Kachru: My professional journey was like climbing mountains, none of them was easy, but each was like a huge challenge. But not an impossible challenge to meet. As I look back in time, I have come to a conclusion that, it was all about understanding the environment I landed myself in and finding the way forward.
These two factors make Kashmir a very attractive place to live in. But does that make Kashmir a comfort zone as far as I am concerned,I don’t think so. Much has changed, and those who have left Kashmir in the 1990s do not have any future in the State. A place like Kashmir has its own limitations, there are many more career opportunities beyond the Valley.
I started my professional carrier in sales and marketing domain with HCL and Xerox. Part of my job profile was to make cold calls each day. I remember doing about forty cold calls in a day and travelling over 50 kilometers each day was not easy at all. But I never gave up. All this resulted in being awarded “The Best Sales Manager” by the Company.
From information technology, today you are into garment business. How did this happen?
S. Kachru: A time came when I just decided to stop working for some one else. By that time I had already developed my network and I knew people in the right place. I initiated my own Executive Search Company. This vertical is highly competitive and works on a strong networking principal. Due to sales and marketing background, I knew people at the right places. During that time I was able to place candidates in Top Multi-national Companies. This was purely a white collar vertical I operating in. Till the time every thing came to an abrupt end because of 09/11, which was followed by recession in the United States. My venture suffered because most of my clients were based out of United States.
What did you do next?
S. Kachru: I think it was destined that I would move in the garments business. I started off by selling shawls and went on to import garments from China and Hong Kong. Gradually, I moved to manufacturing and today my products are being sold online under “Dhwani” and “White Lotus” brands. Both the brands are well known in segments they are sold in. Recently I was sponsored by Silk Mark Organization of India, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India to show case the silk products in AUSTRALIA. This resulted in an award by the Ministry of Textiles for the best quality garments being manufactured by my Company (Gravity). Still I believe I have long way to go before I can take a break.
How different is Kashmir today in terms of both culturally & from professional point of view since the time you graduated from there?
S. Kachru: Let me be honest. Culturally – Kashmir is lost and professionally – Kashmir is way behind the rest of the world. If corrective measures are not initiated then in another decade or so we would be struggling to keep our mother tongue alive. The youth of Kashmir has changed; there is no respect for the elders, no surety of life. On the other hand, professionally no job prospects and a carrier growth path, no emerging industry. So much needs to be done to save what Kashmir really stands for.
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