The Scientific Indian

Holy business of hair

Hair is one of nature’s most amazing inventions. It is one of the toughest and lightest of materials. Even if it is harvested from the heads of unsuspecting believers, it does not diminish in value, especially in the eyes a resourceful businessman. Speigel reports:

Balsara hasn’t been in the business long. He studied business management in London, and eight years ago a friend came up with the idea of exporting hair. At that time, Indian temple hair was being sold at $30 (€20) a kilo. Today the going price ranges from $300 (€205) to $600 (€410). “Hair has become one of the most expensive commodities in the world,” says Balsara, who exports more than three tons to Europe each month, sending it there by airfreight. Sea freight would be cheaper, but it’s too slow.

There are 300 employees at SDTC, and Balsara plans to hire another 100 this year. When the hair arrives from temples, it is washed, brushed on the nail-studded boards, sorted by length and packaged. The Indian women remove their shoes while working at SDTC, something they would normally do only in temples. Before the product is taken to the airport, the women line up in front of the crates and say a prayer of farewell. “It is a holy business,” says their boss.