Playing with fire seems to be no big deal to the two young women in a brightly lit room. The detonating cord sifts its way through their hands as if it were a piece of paper. Observing the slightly terrified look on our faces, they break into a smile and casually say in Hindi, “Yeh to roz ka kaam hai” (this is a part of our daily routine). No more than in their mid-20s, these two are part of a workforce of 2,500 who are involved in the manufacture of slurry explosives, cartridges, cast boosters and detonating cords. There is no doubt that it is a tough job and not made any easier in the sweltering heat of central India. We are in Chakdoh, 40 km away from Nagpur and an hour by car. Across 750 acres, on which Solar Industries India’s manufacturing plant sits, the smell of chemicals (ammonium nitrate and calcium nitrate, we are told) is mildly astringent. This is one of the 25 plants that Solar owns.
The company’s 66-year-old spirited chairman, Satyanarayan Nuwal, named the company as a tribute to the star. “I have been fascinated by the sun, even as a boy,” he says. The business he founded in 1984 as an industrial explosives trader expanded into manufacturing in the ’90s; and scaled up, headed to overseas markets even setting up manufacturing units there and went public in the 2000s. Today, it is the leader in the domestic industrial explosives market with a dominant 25% share, a sizable lead over the second-largest player with