Nepali dreams blossom in India’s economic landscape

Nepalis who migrated to India
Successful businesses owned by Nepalis who migrated to India.

Yubraj Baral, born in Gwadi, Gulmi, was one of 13 siblings. Following his mother’s passing, his older brother, like many Nepalis, migrated to India in pursuit of employment, leaving Yubraj to look after his younger siblings. Despite owning small farms in their village, the Baral family faced ongoing challenges in making ends meet.

A few years later, Yubraj also migrated to India just like his older brother. Settling in Mumbai at a young age, he initially took on odd jobs such as dishwashing and heavy goods handling. Over time, he progressed to managerial positions within transportation and courier companies.

In 1990, Yubraj took a leap of faith and founded Baral Express Service (formerly Lopo Royal Express Service), providing courier services across India with his brothers. Realising industry limitations, he transitioned to Baral Logistics in 2013. To do that, he had to sell assets and invest heavily. His brothers were not too keen but despite all the setbacks, Yubraj persisted in his entrepreneurial pursuits.

Over time, Yubraj’s perseverance paid off as he secured partnerships with major brands, including becoming a logistics partner for the e-commerce giant Amazon. Thereon, Yubraj’s business underwent substantial growth, surpassing an annual turnover of INR 1 billion. Baral Logistics now operates 24/7, with 60 per cent of its workforce dedicated to the night shift.

His company offers a comprehensive range of services, including road cargo, rail cargo, air cargo, sea cargo, multi-seller flex, and warehouse facilities. On top of that, the company has over 100 self-owned vehicles, bearing the ‘Baral Logistics’ brand logo, operating across various cities in India. Approximately 350 vehicles run continuously daily, comprising small vehicles and rentals.

Thriving in India

Baral Logistics nepali in india - migrated to India
Baral Logistics in India

Baral Logistics collaborates with leading companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Reliance, Myntra, and more, boasting over 500 corporate clients. Despite competition from major players like Container Corporation of India, Blue Dart Express, and others, Baral Logistics has carved its niche, generating billions in annual revenue.

That is thanks to the Indian logistics industry achieving a notable annual turnover of USD 274 billion in 2022, with projections anticipating a doubling to USD 563 billion by 2030. Baral Logistics, led by Yubraj, is a key player, employing over 600 people across 180 cities. Notably, Yubraj has also successfully involved his family in the entrepreneurial venture.

“Out of the eight of us, seven work within this company. We have major offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and other locations,” said Yubraj.

He does not want to stop there as the business continues to evolve using new technology aiming to evolve with time.

“We anticipate significant expansions in terms of our workforce, geographical presence, and business domains. We are making preparations to establish an office in China to extend our logistics services from there,” he said.

Standing out

Hair-and-Shanti_India nepali people in india
Hair and Shanti in India

Bishwa Shanti Shrestha, originally from Chitwan, worked as a beautician in a company in New Delhi and dreamed of starting her own business to create a unique brand. Yet, establishing oneself in a bustling city like New Delhi was no easy feat. Undeterred, she bravely launched her salon in 2001 along with a friend, naming it Hair n Shanti.

Through relentless hard work, it garnered increasing popularity and witnessed a surge in demand. Hair n Shanti currently operates 10 outlets in New Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida, India. Beyond India, the brand’s appeal has expanded, with 14 operational outlets in Nepal, contributing to its growth.

About six years ago, Bishwa Shanti had an accident that made mobility challenging. As a result, her sister, Anuja Shrestha, has taken on the active management of the business. Anuja Shrestha says the salons in India make around INR 100,000 a day.

“Hair n Shanti has employed 150 to 200 people, maintaining a staff of 15 to 20 individuals per salon,” she says.

From helper to company owner

Ram Nepal
Ram Nepal

Ram Nepal’s father, originally from Madi of Palpa, worked at the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in India. He brought Ram to New Delhi at the age of 12. After completing his schooling in New Delhi, Ram’s father assisted him in securing a job at DDA, where he earned a monthly salary of INR 175.

However, Ram secured a position at a private garment company, albeit with a low salary. Yet, through overtime, he managed to earn more than what the DDA offered. Subsequently, he quit his government job at the DDA to take on a helper role at the private garment company. What initially started as a humble helper position eventually became the launching pad for his successful journey as a businessperson in the industry.

Ram is now the owner of a garment factory called Royal Collection, boasting an annual turnover in the billions. He has recently held marketing positions at companies like Dimple Creations and Stencil Apparel.

He also took a leap of faith in 1994 and has never looked back since. After buying a garment company, he has taken giant strides to become a successful Nepali who migrated to India. His journey even paved the way for his brothers who are also entrepreneurs in India.

“If we hadn’t started this industry, my brothers and I would still be working elsewhere. Today, they, too, are proud owners,” he says. “I might not have built an enormous company yet, but I’ve been able to offer employment, even if in modest numbers. That is a source of immense satisfaction.”

Royal Collection currently has, two garment factories operating in Tughlaqabad and Sangam Vihar, employing around 150 people. The clothing produced by his industry is distributed across various regions of India. One of Ram’s factories has a daily capacity of 10,000 pieces. However, it is worth noting that currently, neither of the factories is operating at full capacity.

“There was a time when I sold clothes up to INR 1 million daily, but those days are behind us,” he says.

Hard work and honesty

best momos places in kathmandu best-performing listicles of 2021
Momo also migrated to India with the Nepalis and has become a famous snack.

Acharya Balakrishna, overseeing the Patanjali business empire in Haridwar, and Binod Humagai, the founder of Wow Momo based in Kolkata, stand as inspiring figures in India. These individuals represent just a fraction of the larger narrative of what Nepalis who migrated to India have been able to achieve. 

For over a century, a tradition existed where people from Nepal would migrate to India to become Gurkha soldiers. Those who did not make it would often serve as security guards in residences, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants. They would eventually return to Nepal after dedicating their lives to work in India. This practice established a traditional perception in India, portraying Nepalis as honest and diligent individuals. However, the predominant job associated with this identity was that of a security guard.

Nevertheless, in the past two decades, Nepalis who migrated to India have showcased their prowess in the field of business. Just a decade ago, the current Deputy Chief of Mission, Surendra Thapa, witnessed this transformation firsthand through his experiences. 

“The traditional identity of Nepalis being honest and hardworking still prevails. However, there’s now an added recognition that Nepalis are also entrepreneurial and capable. Nepalis exhibit a collective spirit and unity. There’s a strong sense of mutual support when someone encounters challenges,” says Thapa.

Shaligram Tiwari, the former president of the Nepali Public Relations Committee in Mumbai, also notes that the living standards of Nepalis who migrated to India have improved due to their enhanced skills and abilities while working in India.

“In the past, I would frequently meet people who mentioned working in a hotel. Now, there’s a growing number proudly claiming ownership by saying, ‘This is my hotel.’,” says Tiwari. “Those previously engaged in dishwashing roles have now risen to become chefs in prominent hotels and restaurants. This advancement is a direct outcome of their relentless hard work.”

Tiwari’s observation is that when members of the Nepali community attain professional success, it boosts the confidence of others within the community.

“It’s a natural human tendency to draw inspiration from others’ success stories. The accomplishments of certain Nepalis who migrated to India have sparked a trend of increased investments from other Nepali communities,” says Tiwari.

Thapa says that the Nepali community’s influence on Indian society has significantly increased compared to the past. The growing popularity of Momo in India demonstrates the substantial impact of the Nepali presence. In earlier times, restaurant menus primarily featured samosas and other snacks, but now momos have become an essential offering in every restaurant.

“Momo has transformed the lunch culture of Indians,” says Thapa.

New capable generation

Nepalis who migrated to India before engaged in creative endeavours and improved their living standards.

Individuals who have lived in India for an extended period claim that the migration of Nepalis to India has been minimal in the last 10-15 years. However, Tiwari says the trend of people from the western and far western part of Nepal coming to Mumbai for work persists.

“Individuals from other parts of Nepal have stopped coming here for such opportunities,” he says

Tiwari believes Nepalis who migrated to India before engaged in creative endeavours and improved their living standards. Speaking specifically about Mumbai, many businessmen of Nepali origin have thrived in the city. In Bollywood, there are celebrities like Udit Narayan and adept managers such as Ravi Bhattarai.

“Many Nepalis are excelling in various other professions too,” he says.

Several Nepali individuals who pursued higher education in disciplines such as chartered accountancy, medicine, nursing, and engineering, among others, are currently employed in India, aligning their work with their qualifications.

Tiwari notes that an interesting trend has emerged where the second generation of Nepalis now have the opportunity to leave for other countries.

“The first generation who came to India has given the second generation the opportunity of a good education by working hard,” says Tiwari.

Today, the second-generation Nepali is educated, capable and engaged in high-paying jobs. Among them is Bishal Thapa who serves as a senior director at the American company Clasp in India. His company provides advisory services to the Government of India in areas related to alternative energy, energy efficiency, and more.

Similarly, Bhupendra Shrestha from Kathmandu, who went to India to pursue Chartered Accountancy studies, now serves as a manager in the multinational audit company Price Waterhouse (PwC).

“The influx of Nepalis studying and securing jobs based on their abilities is notably high in India,” says Bhupendra Shrestha.

Binod Humagai, founder of Wow Momo, highlights that government policies in India have facilitated the expansion of startups.

“There’s ample opportunity for individuals with skills, not just in India but globally. The presence of Indians in leadership positions within the world’s largest corporations affirms this,” he says.

According to Humagai, the Nepali Embassy in India has not been proactive in leveraging the knowledge and experience of the Nepali community.

“Most of the organisations formed by Nepalis here have a political nature. Even when ministers and leaders from Nepal visit, they primarily engage with them. Those with substantial policy-level experience have remained underutilised,” he says.

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Baral is an associate editor and the head of the business bureau.

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