You came, you saw, you bought and I thank you. I feel elated. There is nothing quite like ‘making it’ in your home town. The gentleman who owns the gallery that hosted us said to me quite emotionally “you have made my gallery look so beautiful” and lots of customers were very appreciative of the exhibition and the carpet collection. We will certainly be back.
Putting the show on was the easy bit. Octroi was not. Only Ethiopia and some cities in the state of Maharashtra still charge Octroi (a local tax collected on various articles brought into a district for consumption). The documentation in our case was tedious as we had to pull out not just invoices but customs duty for every individual item. However they seemed happy with the paperwork and accepted our demand draft for the deposit (although the shipper refused to take the demand draft from Bangalore “in case it got lost” so I had to deliver it in person in Mumbai). Having now ‘exported’ all our wares back to Bangalore, I await the refund of the balance owed to me. I am told it will take 5-6 months but will happen. We shall see…
I could write a book about how India could simplify policy to encourage small entrepreneurs. The policies and the ambiguity in wording leave much to the person interpreting it. Running a legitimate business means employing specialists for everything: VAT, Octroi, Customs Duty, FEMA (you get the gist) which adds a huge burden in terms of time and cost. There is no wonder that many small businesses in India choose to stay below the radar and by doing so do not pay taxes. Arastan will always follow the highest level of corporate governance: it is just who I am and how I intend to run my company. (I once paid a labour lawyer Rs.1,00,000 to avoid paying a Rs.5,000 bribe. ) There is a cost involved but you have to stand for something in life.
I am off to Uzbekistan and feel like I am visiting an old friend as this is my third trip. Anaheeta is travelling with me (I have ready companions for everywhere I go!) and her excitement is wonderful to see. For those who have said to me they would love to go – watch this space for our subsequent articles. I hope it encourages you to do just that.