Bahujan Entrepreneur series
(This second article in the series on the success of Dalit, Tribal and OBC entrepreneurs traces Raghav Ram Maurya’s entrepreneurial journey)
Noted poet Dushyant Kumar has written: “How can a hole not be made in the sky/ throw a stone with due intent my friends.”
It could be said that Raghav Ram Maurya, who belongs to a poor farmer’s family in Uttar Pradesh, is an example of someone tearing a hole in the sky. Despite being less educated, through dedication, passion and hard work, Raghav Ram Maurya has achieved a position that he could not have even conceived of. Needless to say, Raghav Ram Maurya came across new challenges at every step in this journey but he did not give up; rather, time and again, he found the self-confidence and will power to overcome these challenges. Today, 48-year-old Raghav Ram Maurya owns a successful printing press in Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Area. Raghav started his career washing utensils and delivering tea, earning a wage of just rupees 5. Today, he is able to pay some of his employees as much as 40-50 lakhs per month. His story is a source of inspiration for those who are forced to lead a poverty-stricken life.
Raghav was born in 1970 in Rampur village of Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh. He doesn’t recall his date of birth. His father Lallu Maurya was a farmer. His family earned their livelihood by selling vegetables that they grew in their fields.
Running away from home
After a severe beating from his mother (sometime in 1984) Raghav ran away from home. He was just 14 years old at the time and had only studied upto class 6.
At first Raghav worked at a hotel in Dakpatthar, in Dehradun. His job was to wash utensils and to serve water to the customers. Soon after, he left for Delhi. His maternal uncle and elder brother both worked as security guards there. His uncle helped him get a job at a tea shop, where once again he had to wash the utensils and serve the customers.
His elder brother worked as a security guard in a printing press named Kumar Printing Press which is functioning to date but at half of the capacity of Raghav Ram Maurya’s Maurya Printing Press Pvt Ltd. “The owner was of Rajasthani origin and I was the only one coming from Purabiya, that is, Poorvanchal. Due to this, I also had to face discrimination.
“In those days, factories used to run on contract basis. I would switch contractors and work for whoever paid even an extra atthanni (half a rupee). This was the routine. We used to have less expenses. I used to stay with three other people and our monthly expenditure was not more than 300 rupees. Our daily wage was around 5 rupees. All of us would spend 75 rupees every month. Gradually we started understanding our jobs and became better at them.”
Becoming a contractor
Within around two years, Raghav became a contractor. This is when Raghav’s life took a U-turn. “My business started flourishing. By 1990, I became the largest contractor in the printing press corridor. I had workers working in many factories. A year later, in 1991, I decided to have something of my own instead of working for others. I invested Rs 1 lakh in a die cut machine. But even before the work began, I faced my first setback. The machine broke down. I was back to square one. But I didn’t lose hope – I persevered.”
Owning a printing press
Dharamveer Chaudhary, the owner of Paramount Box Manufacturing Company, came to my rescue. He acted as a guarantor and helped me procure another machine. I will never forget this favour.” Initially Raghav himself worked as a labourer in the factory, performing all manner of menial and odd jobs, and work gradually picked up.
“I called my elder brother from home to take care of the contract work. There were five to six trustworthy labourers. I handed over the contract of various companies to them and devoted myself completely to my enterprise..”
Entering a partnership and expanding business
In 1996 he made a new friend, Anil Mittal. “He invested in my enterprise, which allowed me to expand the work area.” Soon, Raghav was able to undertake high-tech printing assignments as well as the manufacturing of boxes for big companies. Anil parted ways in 2000. In 2001, Raghav faced perhaps his biggest setback. Due to incessant rains, all of Raghav’s machines and all his finished products were ruined .
Founding Maurya Printing Press
Once again he had to start from scratch. He founded Maurya Printing Press Private Ltd in 2004. Since then the enterprise has been running smoothly. However, Raghav feels that one flip side of all this success is that he was unable to spend time with his family. But Raghav’s own family has never complained. They are only happy for him – that he was able to achieve all that he dreamt of and desired. Today Raghav’s company employs around 300 people and is spread over a 40,000-acre estate. Raghav says that all his employees are like his own family and that he too works alongside them.
Next project: A high-tech school in his village
Raghav now wants to open a high-tech school in his native village in Uttar Pradesh – a school where poor children of all castes can study for free. Raghav wants the children who attend his school to be free to dream – dream about such futures that Raghav neither had the courage nor the knowledge to seek.
However, Raghav is disappointed with a social system that remains stagnant and stifles dreams. Even today, when he visits his village, Raghav says that the upper caste people do not like the fact that he owns an expensive car.
Translated by Devina Auchoybur and copy-edited by Harshavardhan Siddharthan
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