Dollar drive As an unemployed youth, Hyder Jasani spent some really tough years on the footpaths of Anand, famous earlier for Amul and now for being India's surrogacy hub. He scraped together a living by selling peanuts in the town, sleeping on its pavements and often going hungry. Then he migrated to the US, and in one of those rags-to-riches stories that always astound, became a motel tycoon. Albert Jasani, as he now calls himself, will be in Gujarat two months from now and will lead the cycle rally to push for the 'Statue of Unity', a humungous image of Sardar Patel. Jasani's rally will pass his hometown, where he has helped build a whole host of public facilities from crematoriums to water tanks. This town, known as the cradle of India's White Revolution, has several expat mentors like Jasani. NRIs have generously contributed to spruce up this once sleepy town, and pumped in money and resources to turn it into an education centre. Though Anand hasn't gained much from industrial development, agriculture and education have pushed the growth of this town in the lush green Charotar region. Today, as many as one lakh students study in various educational institutes spread across the Anand-Vidyanagar stretch between Ahmedabad and Vadodara. "Most of these institutes have come up because of NRI donors. And the student economy, in turn, has helped boost the local economy, " says Dr Bhikhubhai Patel, managing trustee of the Sardar Patel Education Trust (SPET). Yet another NRI, surgeon Raman Patel, returned home after 40 years in the US to lead the BN Patel Institute of Paramedics and Science. "Of the Rs 250 crore that we have spent so far in setting up educational institutes at Vallabh Vidyanagar and satellite township New Vallabh Vidyanagar, over 30 per cent of the funds have been donated by NRIs, " says Dr C L Patel, chairman of Gujarat's oldest - and one of the richest - education trust Charutar Vidya Mandal (CVM). Anand, of course, has an air of supreme confidence. Such has been the growth that NRIs are themselves looking at investing here for profit. Take the case of motel czar Suryakant Patel. In the '70s, he migrated from Anand to Uganda and then moved to the US. Patel, who spends a little time every year in Anand, has bought himself a luxury flat here. Or Yogendra Patel, who has been running a pharmaceutical export business in London. This British citizen of Indian origin nowadays has business interests in Anand and has even introduced the concept of retirement living in the town. He promotes Neejanand, a retirement resort project here. Anand, clearly, will not remain a small town for very long.
Courtsey : TOI Crest