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Team members:










Gujari Bazaar

It is 11 pm on a Saturday night and Vishnubhai, Shardaben, Pratapsinh, Wasimbhai,

Ashokbhai, Chandubhai and many others like them are still preparing for the Sunday morning
where they have to sell their goods. All these people are headed towards one area tomorrow but
they have hundreds and thousands of different things to sell. That is the beauty of the market
these people go to every Sunday. If you are wondering why I have written Sunday in capital
letters, it is because of the importance this market holds in these peoples lives. One Sunday in a
week means six days of proper food and health. This is the market on which all these people and
many others make their livelihood on. This is the day they look forward to in the whole week. I
am talking about the Gujari Bazaar very popularly known as Ravivari which is organised every
week under the famous Ellis Bridge by The Ahmedshah Gujari Association.
Its 6 am in the morning and while many of us are still in our beds waiting for the alarm to
snooze again, 1200 people have already started to bring their scrap, chickens, goats, cupboards,
empty liquor bottles ,etc. so that their shop can start as soon as possible. I had to write et cetara



goods and counting the

number of goods would
take more than a decade.
Ayum Kureshi, a
second hand square parts
dealer is already out in the
market with a damaged
axel in his right hand. On
being interviewed by my
team members, we came to
know that Ayum had come
with his brother Wasim, and they had a shop at gujari bazaar years back and now after years of
hard work, he has a well settled garage in Jamalpur. After a few questions we came to know
from him that Gujari is not a place where customers buy things and go home but it is also a place
where traders come to buy goods and scrap. The way in which the whole Gujari Bazaar is
organized and taken care of is amazing. The history of Gujari bazaar goes 600 years back when
India was under the Moghul Empire. Ahmed Shah, the king back then in 1411 A.D. organized
this market for people in 1414 A.D. Before, this market took place on Fridays and was between

Bhadra Fort and Tran Darwaja. But from 1954 A.D., the market is organized under Ellis Bridge
starting from Victoria Garden. From the past 60 years, Gujari Bazaar is looked upon or rather
taken care by The Ahmedshah Gujari Association headed by Nafeezbhai Allahwala. He has
been there from the past 11 years and before him his father and his grandfather served the Gujari
Association. The dedication with which Nafeezbhai runs the Association with the help of his
committed volunteers and how he manages a population of 1 lakh customers in the market is no
small achievement. The timing has also been the same throughout these years i.e. 6 am to 6 pm.
Every member has to pay 5 rupees as a token amount to set up his or her shop every Sunday. The
people over there follow this rule without any fuss and it is a matter of pride to have a place like
Gujari Bazaar in the heart of Ahmedabad.
Another Interesting thing we found amongst all the people was the willingness to talk with
us. Not once did we get any offensive response. This very attitude of the people speaks a lot as
they are very kind hearted and more importantly simple and innocent. These people selling the




executives or experts in
marketing. But still the
innovative techniques with
which these people sell
their products are a unique
sight. So then the big
question is what do these
people do on the rest of the
days when the market is
closed? The answer is very



gather the scrap for these 6

days from the nearby societies and apartments. Some vendors set up their shop in nearby
localities while some of the utensil vendors go to other markets where they can get a good
customer response. Some people even go to Abu road market and other far off localities like
Rajkot, Baroda and Mumbai.
A lot of the people in Ahmedabad who dont even know the greatness of this market is just
a reflection of how the perception of people is towards things on the other side of the pool. A lot

of stereotypes are associated with this market. Even though it is the largest market in Asia, still
people look at it as a poor mans market. It is still looked upon as a scrap market and a place to
buy second hand goods. When asked to the general public whether this place should be
developed as a tourist place for the foreigners and people, majority of the people said that a scrap
market cannot be a tourist destination. This is one of the main perceptions why Indias most of
the tourist destinations are always monuments and structures. India is a country with a lot of
diversity in the people and who would not want to see the culture of people and the way they
work? This is a unique market that Ahmedabad is not showcasing in its Ahmedabad Heritage
because who wants to see the poor people earn a penny.
Moving on with the market, we find that there are hundreds of markets within this Gujari
bazaar. There is a huge second hand books market and a second hand Utensil market which is the
backbone of Gujari Bazaar. Maximum numbers of vendors in the Gujari bazaar are from these
occupations. Sometimes it may happen that at the end of the day, some vendors are not able to
gather enough money for the transportation of their goods back home or their warehouse. So the
other vendors chip in with some money and he can repay that money later. These are some
qualities that a sustainable city should be looking forward to. We talk of development all the
time but standard of living and quality of life is completely ignored. The main development of a
region, city, society, place, state and country is when the people are supportive of each other.
That brings us to another
interesting fact that 25% of
the vendors are Muslim




Hindus. But not once has

Gujari Bazaar reported a
case of communal conflict.
This speaks tons of a city
marred by riots from the
last 400 years. Never has
the Gujari Bazaar remained
closed due to communal
riots .There have been very few instances when the Bazaar remains closed. The Government has
decided to keep the bazaar closed during the International Kite festival from the past 3 years. It is
a big hit to people whose livelihood depends on a single day.

To add insult to the injury for the Ravivari Bazaar, Government has launched the Sabarmati
Riverfront Development Project. The people most affected by this project are the people from
Gujari Bazaar as the project has already cut down 11,000 square yards reducing the total area to
16,000 square yards. This is a big hit for these vendors but it is nothing new in a country like
India where poor people are exploited day in and day out. The Government has not yet assured
them of a place for rehabilitation. The Ahmedshah Gujari Association has filed a RTI to know
some of the details regarding the rehabilitation and the design of the Riverfront project. But still
there is no reply from the Project committee. The area taken by the Government will be used to
make walking tracks and food stalls as part of the riverfront project. Because it is more important
that a rich man stays fit rather than a poor man earning a square meal.
Many of the vendors and shopkeepers still dont know what is the real picture regarding the
riverfront project and why one fine day they were not allowed to sit and sell their goods. It is a
strange fear that has crept inside these people and the fear was seen when we were asking them
our routine questions. Vishnubhai, a second hand utensil dealer was so reluctant to answer our
questions because he was afraid that we will take his income of the day. But after some
negotiations, we finally got to talk with him. He poured his heart out explaining the poverty
within which he was living and what he intends to do 10 years down the line. Looking at the sad
state of the poverty of these people, the Association has tried to provide a lot of facilities like
food at work and water stalls or pani ni parab. A plate of simple dal, chapati and rice serves
them good for Rs.40. Another interesting fact of the Gujari Association is that there is no funding
from any organization. The Association is run voluntarily by Nafeezbhai and his team of 35
volunteers. If ever you step into Nafeezbhais office, you will be warmly received with a hot cup
of tea. He is always willing to tell you more about the market. But the most significant thing that
we all found was the number of women working at Gujari bazaar. One third of the vendors in
Gujari are Women. That is there are close to 400 women working every sunday and are non
dependent so the gender composition of the association's membership is another aspect of its
democratic representative character that makes for a strong and sustainable organizational
culture. It is said that a country is known by the way it treats its women. And Ravivari can be
taken as a great example of how the association treats its women. Never has there been a case of
harassment or sexual abuse. Rarely do you hear the police siren in Gujari bazaar as all the small
conflicts and quarrels are solved by the Association itself.

More importantly, a collection of 1200 plus traders puts together a network of

thousands of formal and informal workers engaged in productive tasks throughout the
week as a means of livelihood, which becomes a 'public transaction' on a sunday, through a
traders' stall.

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