Ketan Tanna | TNN Mumbai:
Diamond traders of Indian origin have formalised their domination over the industry in the world’s diamond capital. Five dimantaires of Indian origin have been elected to the six member board of the prestigious Antwerp-based Hoga Raa Voor Diamant or HRD, the world’s leading diamond trade governing body. Those formally elected to the HRD general assembly on Monday include Kaushik Mehta, Nishit Parikh, Mehul A Kothari, Nilang Mehta, Joshi Mukund and Shimson Parnas.
The importance of this election is that for the first time the Indian dimantaires have a significant voice in the HRD board of directors. Despite having significant stake in the overall diamond business of Antwerp, dimantaires of Indian origin had limited power in the past. But with the new elections, the Indians dominate the HRD board of directors. Also, for the first time in the history of the HRD, which was established in 1973, the diamond dealers were allowed directly to elect a few directors to the board.
Says Mehul Kothari, managing director, Sushang Exports, and elected to the board, “Indians control 65-70% of the Belgian diamond business and it is for the first time that we have large numbers of Indians elected to the board. I feel that it will have a positive impact for the diamond industry both in Belgium and in India. Though to be fair, HRD is an international organisation and we would need to represent the diamond industry per se and not just the country.”
The election is significant as more than 50% of the world’s production of rough, polished and industrial diamond passes through Antwerp. Eight in 10 of all rough diamonds in the world are handled in Antwerp. Also, one in two of all cut diamonds passes through Antwerp. The importance of Antwerp as a diamond centre can also be gauged by the fact that the Antwerp diamond sector has an annual turnover of $29 billion
The elections on May 3 and 4 were held in different categories according to the turnover of the companies. In category one were companies with a turnover of more than
o 100 million. The elected board members in this category were Kaushik Mehta (Eurostar), Shimson Parnas (Arodiam). In category two, companies that had turnover between
o 30 and
o 100 million were included. Nishit Parikh (Diarough), Mehul Kothari (Sushang) was elected from category two. The third category had companies with a turnover of less than
o 30 million. Those elected from this category were Nilang Mehta (Genesis Diamonds) and Joshi Mukund (Belindiam).
Says Sanjay Kothari, former chairman, Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, “For the first time in history, Indians have been elected in such strong numbers in any diamond trade body outside of India. Previously, such trade bodies had token representations. To get five members elected at one go is a morale booster. Even foreign dimantaires, meaning non-Indians also voted to elect the five members to HRD. Naturally, this kind of representation will have a positive impact on the Indian diamond industry as well. Finally, we will have strong voice where it matters.”
HRD is the coordinating body and official representative of the diamond sector in Belgium.
The world’s first diamond bourse was established in Antwerp in 1893, and over the years another three were added.
Around 500 Indian families, mainly hailing from the Gujarat town of Palanpur, are involved in diamond trade in Antwerp.
Today, Indians control 60% of Antwerp’s rough and polished diamond trade worth $36 billion.
In spite of their global economic dominance until now, the Indian community was severely under-represented in the HRD.