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Indian makes the cut

Kaushik K Mehta has become the 1st Indian to be elected to the high table of trade, writes Anusha Subramanian.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 01:36 IST

It was 1978. The world’s diamond trade was going through a rough patch. This was when Kaushik K Mehta left his thriving family business in India and opened a diamond factory in Antwerp in Belgium. Within seven years, Mehta converted the crisis into an opportunity and became a global-scale player in the diamond trade.

A quarter of a century later, the Palanpuri Gujarati has become the first Indian to be elected to the high table of the trade — as vice-president of the Antwerp-based Hoge Raad Voor Diamant.

At a time when India is becoming the global manufacturing hub of cut and polished diamonds, Kaushik’s presence in the powerful decision-making body is expected to give a boost to the country’s diamond trade. 
   
Speaking to HT from Antwerp, he says: “When I started the factory at Kempen in Antwerp, confidence in the market was completely lost. Many companies and factories were closing down. Nonetheless, we saw efficiencies that could be tapped into.” 

Kaushik, who overcame severe opposition from the Jewish lobby to gain his post, will be guided by the principle he used to effectively employ in his business. He says a balanced approach and maintaining a long-term mindset have taken him forward. “Focus on the requirements of each customer while paying attention to quality and detail,” he says.

Kaushik’s father Kirtilal ran a jewellery retailing shop and a diamond polishing plant in Coimbatore where Kaushik learnt the trade.

While Kaushik went on to create a $1 billion global company, the family business, Kirtilal Kalidas & Co, set up close to 70 years ago as a high-end diamond jewellery retailer, has expanded too. It has stores in Coimbatore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bangalore and Kochi.

Kaushik’s Antwerp-based Eurostar Diamond Trading Company employs around 10,000 people.