Indian boss rewards staff with cars, homes and jewellery for Deepavali

NEW DELHI - Workers in India traditionally receive boxes of sweets or nuts for Deepavali, stretching to home appliances, cash and liquor from generous bosses. But a diamond merchant in Gujarat has outdone them all.

Savjibhai Dholakiya, an exporter based in the diamond city of Surat, gave his more than 1,000 employees cars, deposits for homes and jewellery as a bonus for the Indian festive season.

Setting social and traditional media in India abuzz on Monday, 491 employees were given Fiat cars, 200 employees who did not own a house got tw-bedroom flats and about 525 employees were given jewellery for their annual incentive, Indian media reported on Monday.

The gifts were handed over on Sunday at a sprawling ground where brand new cars were lined up in neat queues.

Mr Dholakiya, 55, who said he spent about 500 million rupees (S$10.4 million) on the gifts, said his workers deserve big rewards for their hard work and loyalty.

"These workers have been loyal to the company. They deserve it, they have put in hard work which has been reflected in their performance so they should be given the bonus," Mr Dholakiya, whose firm exports polished diamonds to 75 countries, was quoted as saying by NDTV.

Beneficiaries of his largesse were thrilled and also moved, said NDTV.

"The jewellery which they have given me is not only priceless, it shows the sentiment that the company has towards me and other employees," Gaurav Duggal, who has been with the company for two years, was quoted as saying.

Mr Dholakiya is a fourth-grade dropout who began polishing diamonds at age 12 as an apprentice under his uncle. He started his own business in 1992. He first began giving cars to his employees 18 years ago during Deepavali, starting with three. Last year, he gave away 100 cars.