TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI (tariqsaeedi@hotmail.com)
Aug 25 - 31, 2008

Pakistan has enormous reserves of gemstones beneath its soil and mainly northern areas and Balochistan are hotbeds of stones but mining activities across the nation could not give sufficient production of raw stones nor is value addition to design and beautify gemstones making significant export revenue due to the absence of supportive infrastructure and capacity building framework needed to promote value addition in gems and jewellery sector of the country.

Recently government of Pakistan activated its efforts to harness full potential of gems and jewellery sector and it is laying down supportive ground for patronizing skill development through training institutions and intended investments in this sector. Experts believe that knowledge exchange is essential to modernize contemporary techniques in place in manufacturing of gems and jewellery because gems and jewellery sector of Pakistan has not grown to a level to become big industry and to generate substantial contributions in mainstream economy at once. Only through imitating expertise of other countries can this sector get opportunity to manage natural resources skilfully and workers improve their craftsmanship.

Dr. Mandip Sharma, a gems designer, hailing from India, is ready to disseminate in Pakistan all science what she applied in India to transform stone into spectacular and orderly design, which, she said while talking to PAGE, could become main foreign exchange earner for national economy after passing through dexterous industrial process; that has undoubtedly entitled Indian gems and jewellery sector as one of the world's renowned gems producing countries.

Also being president and founder chairperson of Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Career Women (India), she is in a better slot to voice concerns of Indian business community about business environment in Pakistan. She emphasized politics should be refrained from interrupting bilateral trade between India and Pakistan. "We must weigh politics and economy on different measurement scales." Perhaps, that is why, she has been on sporadic business trips to Pakistan since four years.

Especially, these visits focus on to develop cordial relations with local traders associated with gems and jewellery sector. She too belongs to agrarian trade and has been exporting farm produces to Germany, England, and other countries. In Pakistan she wants to concentrate on harnessing business potentialities of gems and jewellery sector. For that, she hammered a deal with a local gems designer and trained Pakistani workforce about Indian techniques of gems cutting, polishing, etc.

It is not difficult to find workshops here in Pakistan, says Mandip. Local workers could be able to design world class ornaments and trinkets after training and skill improvement. "I bring along with me technology [knowledge] to perform upon raw goods as finished goods are not permissible; local manufacturers, designers apply these guidelines accordingly to make and sale designs locally," she elaborated. 91 Facets is a known name in jewellery designing, she heads export division of the company.

About recent trade policy, she says, "one day things will be on the right track". Until then technology can be transferred at least, she adds. Dr. Mandip told forty three Pakistani workers had already been imbibed out of border designing expertise. Expressing his observation she says people in Pakistan are too much engrossed in works other than their own. For instance, workers performance takes unnecessary influence of political affairs and to the worse, she utters, they comfortably declare one as 'guilty' or 'innocent'.

To an extent, it is ok, but, "Contrast is economy and politics, people should be in their shoes, be loyal to their works", she uttered referring to people living at any side of the border". "Being businessperson, one should wage war against economic crises."

When asked in spite of political turnaround occurred due to Musharaf's ouster and unresolved Kashmir quandary which has been determining strength of connectivity between duo economies: India and Pakistan for decades and probably would have been critical to implementation stage of any amicable trade policy, what makes her so positive about inter-trade relation and is she prepared to unroll contingency plan in case of business shocks, she replied with firm tone that she was quiet optimistic about Pakistan-India trade relation despite apprehension and sceptics clouded on top of Indian business community because she thought something is better than nothing.

"Investment in gems and jewellery sector does not require sky-high investments and with small volume designing can start on. I am taking services of local designers and investing intellect mainly in Pakistan", she adds. Indian gems and jewellery industry is currently estimated at over US$ 130 billion. It accounts for about 20 per cent of total Indian exports. Moreover, it provides employment to 1.3 million people directly and indirectly.

What excels Indian industry is its enumeration amongst world's largest gems processing countries. According to a report, Indian diamond processing that includes cutting and polishing has 80 percent share in the global market. Pakistani gems designing workforce can learn modern and dexterous manual and computer based applications from Indian counterparts. It will be based on mutual exchange as Pakistan having abundance of inward treasures of stones and metals and manpower will give location of economies benefits to foreign artisans. Two-way trade in gems and jewellery will be beneficial for economies of both India and Pakistan, Mandip says.

In one phrase, she describes Pakistan's president departure as "What is not endured must be cured". She intimates "democracy comes as duties then as right. First perform your duty and then do consider it as a right. And, I have a right to say so since am a part of largest democratic nation".

Referring to an article, Mandip recalls, penned down by a Pakistani author, comparing people of two nations, she says people of India and Pakistan have similar genetics codes, but only difference which helps Indians neglecting any woe is made because of cultural diversity. She says, "We have numbers of festivals", that she thinks give Indians catharsis on the face of crises.

As a learned classical dancer and a dentist by profession, Mandip Sharma was hauled in cutting stones by her husband who thought gems designing would better adjust creativity deviation when she planned to broaden her impression as an entrepreneur. Perfectionism, she asserts, is her hallmark that she hopes earnestly will see enviable regional trade partners in near future.