Angadias: Traditional Indian Courier Service
Like an old cliche goes, ‘Old is Gold’, many people in India still follow some of the old customs and practices which prove to be effective even today. Just like the one I am about to mention, it has been around for decades and continues to grow.
These days whenever you have to send a parcel to another city, you would approach any of the new courier services Blue Dart, Fedex etc., thinking they will deliver faster and give you a sense of security that the parcel won’t be tampered with.
This comes at a cost, so often, the courier fees exceeds the actual value of the parcel.
There exists an age-old courier service called ‘Angadia’ in Gujarati, literally means a carrier of valuables, who has played a major role in fuelling growth of the diamond industry in India.
For around seventy odd years, angadias have been delivering diamonds, worth Rs 100 crore sometimes, from Surat, Ahmedabad and other cities in Gujarat to diamond merchants in Mumbai in 24 hours. They travel by train, bus, etc. and guarantee safety, and in case of any loss due to theft, robbery on the journey, they reimburse the total sum to the client.
Their commission is around 0.2% to 0.5% of the parcel’s estimated value, which is way cheaper than any modern day courier service. Most Angadias are over 50-years old, and unlikely to run away with a consignment. They also deliver huge sums of money, letters, etc., all in a day. I have come across few of them in a morning train to Surat, ‘Flying Rani’, in second class compartment, carrying cloth bags properly packed and sealed. After delivering the parcel, they take the night train back home, tired and weary.
Angadias will ask their clients of the parcel’s content, and rarely open them up. The whole thing is based on trust and faith, as Angadias too keep the client’s business transactions confidential. Vishnubhai Kantilal, president of the All India Angadia Association, a close-knit body of 8,000 firms, many of which started business before the East India Company came to India in the 17th century, said, “Trust and confidentiality is the key. If this key is lost business is locked forever.”
Carrying someone else’s wealth is a risky job too, as few of them have been attacked and killed. Their clients transfer huge sums of money in a day, which otherwise would be questioned in a bank, so Angadias are a boon for India’s unregulated black market. However, you can’t overlook their courage and honesty in delivering the goods as it is.
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Tags: Angadias of Gujarat