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Yearbook 2017

1st Annual Survey

‘24th Anniversary’


EDITOR’S PAGE

INDIA: ‘THERE IS AN ILL WIND BLOWING, DOING NOBODY ANY GOOD’ “Pickup the nation’s best news-papers and you can read about the latest news in the world of religion, both in the United States and abroad.” - Terry Mattingly, journalist, author, and professor

I

have admitted from time to time that I have no interest in any man-made religion. But let me assure you that genuine faith in God is something for which I have an abiding fascination – regardless of what your affiliation maybe. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist etc., true faith in God cannot be disregarded or trivialized. Mine rests in the person of Christ who exemplified respect for every individual he encountered; those who practice superiority and exclusion contradict his teachings. I believe we must all choose between an authentic relationship with our Creator or blindly follow an ‘ism,’ ‘ity’ etc. I made my choice long ago and I have not looked back. Yet, there are folks out there who would accuse me of having a hidden agenda to promote a western, institutionalized belief system that I’m convinced is not the Way, the Life and the Truth. Christ did not start a religion called Christianity – but his name has been cleverly attached

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to it to create the proud global religious edifice that stands today. So rather than shove my point of view over on you with regard to the headline I have chosen for this column, I will as I usually do, draw from other viewpoints that are currently circulating in the Indian media. Look at them objectively – am I raising a false alarm or is there any reason for crying ‘wolf’ about what is happening in India? India and Indians being so focused on the intersection of religion, politics and culture, I think it’s necessary to bring important ideas to our collective attention. These issues converge time and again in our society, and I find it useful to chronicle what I observe. Ramachandra Aluri, Associate Editor of the mass circulated ‘Matruboomi Daily,’ an outstanding literary figure in Malayalam writes: “Certain ignorant fundamentalists now in power should understand this before targeting Malayalees for their defiance against myths of Akhand Bharat and the beliefs of the north. We Hindus of Kerala don’t worship cows as mothers.You will rather find bulls in Shiva temples here as the stars. For us Sabarimala and Guruvayoor mean a lot more than Haridwar or Ayodhya. Our major festivals are Onam and Vishu, not Diwali or Navaratri. We don’t celebrate Holi, Bhai Dooj, Karwa Chauth or Rakhi. Christmas and Eid are pretty much part of our lives. Some ardent religious Keralites are vegetarians and a few others by choice. Most of us eat beef, chicken, mutton, duck and all sort of other meats. Fish is essentially a part of Kerala cuisine. Just because, some Northies worship beef, don’t expect us to give up beef. “Buffalo meat is not banned anywhere in India. So it was a planned plot in Delhi and well executed by some Hindu Sena to hurt Keralite defiance. Malayalam is our mother tongue and so we are Malayalees. Neither Hindi nor Hindutva means anything to us. Islam and Christianity grew here peacefully and those who believe in those religions are a part of our multi-

cultural society. In Kerala you will find churches, temples and mosques standing tall close to each other in peace and some of them are thousands of years old. Keep the sobbing stories of Mughals and other invasions of the North to yourselves. The oldest mosque in India built in 629 AD is right here in Kerala at Kodungallur. “We had trade relations with Jews, Arabs, Chinese and many South East Asian kingdoms for over two thousand years (i.e. during B.C.). We defeated the Dutch in Kolachal. “Travancore and Kochi were not part of British India. They were pretty much independent princely states. Travancore had its own elected people’s assembly here in Trivandrum before Indian independence. RSS and other regressive forces should know that we won’t bow before your Hindutva agenda, we joined the Indian Union, which is a Secular Federal Republic, and will never be a part of any Hindurashtra”. – *A Proud Malayali Hindu.* Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President, Centre Policy Research, New Delhi, scathingly notes: “In the moment of his political triumph, Modi has chosen to defeat India. It signals that the BJP will now be dominated by extremes, its politics shaped largely by resentment rather than hope, collective narcissism rather than an acknowledgement of plurality, hate rather than reconciliation, and violence rather than decency. Hubris has set in. The party believes it can get away with anything.” Sunil Khilnani, well known political historian in his book, ‘The Idea of India’ writes: “If one looks beneath the messy confusion and black arts of India’s politics, one sees in its democratic experience evidence of something that James Madison and his Federalist colleagues well understood more than two hundred years ago. Large republics with diverse and conflicting interests can be a better home for liberty, a safer haven against tyranny, than homogeneous and exclusive ones. Within them, factions can check one another, moderating ideological fervor and softening power”. The secular agenda in India is undergoing a seismic shift; an ill wind is blowing across our country that will do nobody any good.

Frank Raj Founding Editor, TII


ISSN 0964 8437 U.S. Publishing Office 6612 Cherry Hill Drive Frederick MD 21702 United States of America FOUNDER & EDITOR: Frank Raj Email: frankraj08@gmail.com DIRECTOR: Raina Raj Hadden CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Erik R. Hadden, Benjamin H. Parker TRAVEL EDITOR: Shana Raj Parker PHOTOGRAPHER: Benjamin H. Parker INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS AUSTRALIA: Yashpal Rama Asary CANADA: Rubina Jacob SINGAPORE: Amita Sarwal SWITZERLAND: Prabhu Guptara UK: Rudy Otter, Shamlal Puri USA: Prem Souri Kishore, Balan Iyer MIDDLE EAST: Armenia Fernandes, Bandana Jain, Deepa Ballal, Zenifer Khaleel SOUTH AFRICA: Asma Ayob INDIA: Shyamola Khanna, Sumit Panwar, Khursheed Dinshaw

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DIASPORA: Comparing life in the Indian Diaspora

INDIA: What Was It Like For The English During The Raj? An Englishman Goes Back To Relive It All

By Deepa Ballal

By Frank Raj

MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES

SIGNATURE MEDIA FZ LLE P. O. Box 49784, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 3795678/2698011 Email: info@signaturemediame.com DIRECTOR: Jason Verhoven jason@signaturemediame.com Manager: Brian Cordeiro brian@signaturemediame.com Art Director: B Raveendran ravi@signaturemediame.com Production Manager: Roy Varghese roy@signaturemediame.com Printed by United Printing Press (UPP) – Abu Dhabi Distributed by Tawseel Distribution & Logistics – Dubai Contributor’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or editor and while every precaution has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this handbook is accurate and timely, no liability is accepted by them for errors or omissions, however caused. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN, 6612 Cherry Hill Drive, Frederick MD 21702 and cannot be reproduced in any form without written permission.

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TRAVEL: The Great Indian Traveler By Bikram Vohra

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EDITOR’S PAGE: ‘There Is An Ill Wind Blowing, Doing Nobody Any Good’ By Frank Raj

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Do Indians Have an Inbuilt Achievement DNA? By Zenifer Khaleel

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EATING OUT: The Top 11 Indian Restaurants in Dubai By Bandana Jain

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BOLLYWOOD: 3 Great Stars, Directors, Films and Storytellers By Sumit Panwar

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THE ACHARYA’S VIEW: Political Cartoons By Satish Acharya

Why did an American Billionaire give Jean Makesh 65 million dollars? New IBPC Board Announces Plans to Help Boost India-UAE Strategic Relations


Contents 06 COVER STORY:

The Power 50 Indians in the Gulf By Deepa Ballal

22 Top 10 Community

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Go on a Polar Bear adventure holiday in Churchill, Canada

Leaders: Making A Difference By Armenia Fernandes

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Exploring New Horizons in Education By Rema Menon V

‘Guptara Garmagaram’: Modi’s Machismo and the Politics of Diversion By Prabhu Guptara

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Look after Your Parents in India By Ruqya Khan

By Frank Raj

84 The Fauji life: What Three Bollywood Brats Have in Common

101 HERITAGE: India’s Top 10 Sites to Remember

By Khursheed Dinshaw

105 HUMOUR: You Can’t Buy Love, But You Can Buy ‘Like’

By Melvin Durai

106 Third Culture Kids: Best of East and West By Frank Raj

‘India In The Top League For The Export Of Migrants’ By Shamlal Puri THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 5


Power 50 Indians in the Gulf It is quite amazing how Indians have carved a niche for themselves in the Arabian Gulf in virtually every business sector. TII introduces a ‘Power 50’ starter list hoping that those who were too busy to participate this year will help us reach the ‘Power 100’ next year on our 25th anniversary. By Deepa Ballal Amit Dhamani Amit Dhamani CEO and managing director of Dhamani Jewels has made the group synonymous with fashionable, sophisticated and refined jewelry. Established in 1969 by L.N. Dhamani in Jaipur, with headquarters in Dubai, the group has operations in Italy, Thailand and India and is involved in every process from the ethical sourcing of stones to their polishing and craftsmanship. The group focuses on high-end diamond jewelry, providing the finest quality jewels set in world-class designs. It has won numerous awards like the“Bareeq”award from Dubai Municipality for following good trade practices in 2003 and in 2006 it won the prestigious selling rights for the unique 99-facet“Dubai Cut Diamond” which represents the city of Dubai.

Anand Kapoor Anand Kapoor is the Founder and Vice-Chairman of MiDCOM Group, a diversified conglomerate with its presence in over 20 countries across Africa, Middle East and Far- East. He took the entrepreneurial plunge when he was just 23 by setting up the Midland Forex Bureau in 1998. This, in a sense was the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey that has spawned a variety of businesses in sectors as diverse as Agro, Telecom, Real-estate and Consumer electronics to name a few. His thirst for new opportunities has earned him the badge of ‘serial entrepreneur’ that he wears proudly.

Ashok Goel and Sudhir Goyel Gulf Petrochem Group, a leading player in the oil space with a vision to be an integrated multinational energy organization driving international growth was started in the early 90’s. Brothers Ashok Goel and Sudhir Goyel began trading in petrochemical products in Delhi and Gujarat in India. In 1998, after having established the business in India, they expanded it to Sharjah, UAE and named the company Gulf Petrochem. With a growing US$2.8 billion business, Gulf Petrochem has established itself into six Strategic Business Units – Oil Trading & Bunkering, Oil Refining, Grease Manufacturing, Oil Storage Terminals, Bitumen Manufacturing and Shipping & Logistics. All these units support each other and make Gulf Petrochem Group a well-integrated business.

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Asgar Shakoor Patel In 1959, Asgar Patel started Patel Transport Corporation when he purchased his first truck. Today Patel Roadways is one of the largest logistics companies in Asia with 1,000 delivery outlets complimented by a workforce of over 7,500 people. From road transportation, to air cargo and courier consolidation, to retail, E-Commerce, foreign exchange and money remittance, the company today known as Patel Integrated Logistics Ltd. has grown in leaps and bounds. It has also diversified from a turnover of Rs. 10 crore in the 60s, to Rs.150 cr in 2011 and today stands at Rs.500 cr. Asgar Patel is very active in all his businesses even today at the age of 78. Well disciplined, he not only attends office well before his staff does, but he also ensures he is ready for his meetings at least 15 minutes before schedule, thereby eliminating any delays for his clients.


POWER 50

Dr. Azad Moopen Dr. Azad Moopen is a Physician-turned Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. In 1987, he relocated to Dubai, where the story of Aster DM Healthcare began. In the last 3 decades, Dr. Moopen has built the largest network of healthcare facilities with over 317 establishments consisting of Hospitals, Clinics & Pharmacies in the Middle East, India and the Philippines. Starting from a single doctor practice in Dubai, he has taken Aster DM Healthcare to become one of the leading private healthcare providers in the region. Dr. Moopen believes and strives towards building a branded healthcare institution that is synonymous with quality healthcare, affordable and accessible. The desire to extend this to all the strata of the society, prompted him to develop the three brands “Aster”, “Medcare” and “Access”, within the umbrella organisation. Quality clinical outcomes and exceptional service standards are differing factors of the establishments under his leadership. Considering the critical nature of scarcity of getting medical professionals, he has established a Medical college and Academy to build a pipeline for Doctors and Paramedical professionals. Aster DM Healthcare employs 19,151 people directly as on 30th January 2017, across the Middle East and India, including 2,081 doctors and 9,889 nursing and paramedics.

Dr. Bharat Thakur Dr. Bharat Thakur is an internationally renowned yoga guru who conducts meditation workshops, yoga sessions and corporate yoga workshops around the world. With a Master’s degree and a PhD in Sports Medicine and Yoga, he is equally well versed in the scientific tradition, which he strongly believes in. In 1999, he started his yoga company which is known to deliver tangible and powerful results like weight loss, freedom from diseases like diabetes, arthritis, asthma and stress, while also focusing on the meditative nature of this science. ‘Artistic Yoga’ became a global phenomenon, with millions of students all over the world. It has centers in UAE, India, Russia, UK and Azerbaijan.

KP Basheer KP Basheer is the chairman of the Western International Group, a multifaceted holding group comprising several verticals and businesses that span more than half the world. WIG today owns and manages several brands of repute across several industries. The group is a diversified business conglomerate, which owns and manages several topnotch brands like GEEPAS (Electronics Products), ROYALFORD (Household Products), YOUNGLIFE (Garments & Innerwear), PARAJOHN (Luggage and travel accessories), NESTO (Retail chain with several Hypermarkets and Department stores in the region), CLARKFORD (Watches) BRANDZONE (Fashion and Household Retailer), OLSENMARK (Electronics products) and BABYPLUS (Baby Products).

Dr Birbal Singh Dana The founder, chairman, and managing director of the multinational conglomerate DANA Group, Dr Birbal Singh Dana ventured into the field of entrepreneurship in 1991 after 20 years of surgical practice. Today, the DANA Group consists of 12 companies in the UAE and its operations are spread across UAE, Qatar, Libya and India. It is made up of seven subsidiary divisions – the cornerstone of which is Seven Eagles International Trading. It has diversified over the years to become one of the biggest importers and stockists of flat steel materials. Having entered the Lubricants and Base Oil business in 2012 it has since acquired three running Lubricants factories and is currently supplying Oil to over 84 countries worldwide, also including major government tenders from Bangladesh and South East Asia.

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 7


POWER 50

Dr BR Shetty A young man came to the UAE on May 3rd, 1973, with only $8 in his pocket but he had a big dream. Although a trained pharmacist, his lack of Arabic language skills only got him work as a Medical Sales Representative. As the first medical representative in the GCC he worked his way up with sheer grit and hard labour. Soon his perseverance started bearing fruit. Being altruistic and having an innate desire to have a positive impact on the lives of the people, has been his guiding principle in taking crucial business decisions. In 1975 he founded, NMC with the motto Quality healthcare for all at an affordable price; the NMC Group today has become the largest private healthcare provider in the UAE, catering to over 4.3 million patients a year. NMC currently operates or manages over 45 healthcare facilities and 15 pharmacies across eight countries. NMC owns and operates Clinica Eugin - in Barcelona, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Columbia and Brazil - one of the leading fertility treatment centres globally. NMC also owns a 51 per cent shareholding in Fakih IVF Group, the Middle East market leader for in-vitro fertilization services. Moreover, NMC also owns and operates Americare Group, the leading home care provider in the UAE as well as ProVita, the pioneering provider of long-term medical care, also in the UAE. The recent acquisitions of large facilities at Sharjah, Oman and Saudi Arabia have also further bolstered its presence in the GCC.

Dhananjay Datar Dhananjay Datar, popularly known as Masala King in Dubai is the chairman and MD of Al Adil Group. He has been instrumental in bringing more than 8,500 Indian products to the Gulf market. Having come to Dubai to help his father run a small grocery store, he now owns a chain of 35 Super Stores spread across the GCC region, 2 spice factories, 2 flour mills and an export-import company named Masala King Exports Pvt. Ltd., in India. The group, under the Peacock brand umbrella serves all types of Spices, Pulses, Wheat, Atta, Rice and Indian foodstuff.

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GB Choithram Jethwani Popularly known as GB, the Chairman of the Dubai-based Geebee Group of Companies is GB Choithram Jethwani. Completing stints in the Far East, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan from 1952 to 1954, the enterprising GB first came to Dubai on June 9, 1954, in a sixseater aircraft. In 1975, GB took over the joint family company ‘Geebee’Trading Company’ and become its Chairman and guiding light. His contribution to the transformation of Dubai, especially during the construction boom, even chartering ships to import cement and construction materials from India and Japan to meet Dubai’s urgent and growing need during the oil boom. In his late seventies now, GB proudly lo oks back on the many firsts to his credit. GB was the first to be selected to the Board of the Dubai Electricity Company and the first elected President of the Indian Association through the ballot. He is also the Founder and Trustee of the India Club and the Indian High School- Dubai.


POWER 50

Ganesh Iyer Ganesh Iyer co-founded the FLC Group nine years ago, and since then has been instrumental in expanding the business from a single unit to the large agency it is today. Today, FLC Group has four divisions – Activations, Events, Production & Model Management and Digital. As Managing Partner of FLC Group, Ganesh Iyer leads the group’s strategy, planning and business growth across its markets and operations. With a background in Retail Management from IIM, Ahmedabad, and over 12 years’ experience in the region, Ganesh has the unique ability to combine local insights and global trends to offer resultoriented communication solutions to clients.

Harshad Mehta Visionary diamond entrepreneur, Harshad R. Mehta is has built a reputation as the diamond king of the world because he commands over 40 years of experience in the diamond industry. His Rosy Blue Group, is a renowned diamond and jewellery company, with an impressive track record of expanding to 15 countries. Mehta has built a global network and the Rosy Blue Group employs over 15.000 people globally.

Gaurav Tandon

Hassan Darvesh

Jacky Panjabi

Gaurav Tandon who started as a Radio Jockey in 2002 captured the airwaves and soon became a household name in the UAE. His show “Weekend Out’ (then called ‘Eating Out’ ) is now the longest running Local show in the region. Having reviewed more than 800 restaurants in the UAE and abroad he is widely respected as the biggest Asian Food critic in the country. This gave birth to K KOMPANY MEDIA SOLUTIONS, which is now the largest Asian Television and Radio production company in the region. The company produces seven TV shows and is the preferred production house for all TV channels in the region.

Hassan S. Darvesh is the Chairman of Darvesh, a 108-year-old global business house. As an accomplished entrepreneur with over 38 years’ of international business experience and heading a billion dollar empire, humility and his dynamic vision make him the leader he is today. He chairs the board of Darvesh internationally ‎with its respective headquarters in Africa (Cape town), Asia and Middle East (Dubai) and Portugal (Europe). The different business verticals are industries, investments, trading and technology making it a diversified group of companies across the map.

The founder of the Jacky’s group, Jacky Panjabi, traces the company’s origins to 1970 when his brother Ishwardas sent him to Hong Kong to establish a mail order business in the trading hub under the name of Jacky’s International. From there the company grew and began its operations in Dubai in 1985 – under the name Jacky’s Electronics – and has been operating in the UAE for more than three decades. The group has diversified into other sectors and operates Jacky’s Business Solutions – the leading end-to-end solutions provider for major regional enterprises and corporations with a keen eye on developing manpower training in customer service, IT systems and much more.

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 9


POWER 50

Joy Alukkas Joy Alukkas started his first jewellery showroom in UAE in the year 1987. Today it is a multi-billion dollar global conglomerate that has rapidly expanded its footprint all over the world since its inception 30 years ago. Other than its renown as the world’s favourite jeweller, the group has also diversifed into other profitable businesses. The global retail chain currently has more than 120 showrooms across 11 countries employing over 8,000 people. The Joy Alukkas Group’s business interests other than their flagship business of Jewellery includes, Fashion & Silks – Jolly Silks, Luxury Air Charter – Joy Jets, Money Exchange – Joy Alukkas Money Exchange, Malls – Mall of Joy & Realty – Joy Alukkas Developers.

Kalpesh Sampat One of the founding members and COO of SPF Realty, Kalpesh Sampat has 12 years of experience in the Dubai real estate market, specializing in the Emirates Living area as well as several off plan projects around Dubai. A Chartered Accountant by profession, Kalpesh worked in Schlumberger for 15 years in Dubai, Jakarta, Singapore and Paris in Finance and IT, before transforming himself from Finance to Sales, by venturing into real estate in 2005, and merging his initial R.E. venture, with SPF in 2007. His philosophy has always remained to provide the best-personalized service to every individual client and this is evident through his instant response times complemented with his vast knowledge of the Dubai realty landscape.

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Kabir Mulchandani Kabir Mulchandani is the Group Chief Executive Officer of SKAI. A seasoned real estate entrepreneur, he has developed a reputation of successfully identifying the right market opportunities, consistently entering and exiting investments at the right time with an unrivaled understanding of market movements, both long and short term. The firm works with some of the leading financial and hospitality institutions in the world, including China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Abu Dhabi’s investment vehicle Mubadala and Viceroy Hotel Group. SKAI’s portfolio includes its flagship residential and hospitality project, Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah, and Viceroy Jumeirah Village Dubai, which is set to open in 2018.

Kamal Puri His very first venture was setting up an educational institution in Kuwait. But owing to the war in 1990, he shifted his entire operations to Sharjah, where Skyline University College was first established. It has grown into a successful university that offers courses in tourism, IT, business and marketing. With the continued success, he established the Skyline Group. Over the years, Puri has added a number of companies to the group, in areas including real estate, retirement homes as well as industrial activities in Middle East, India, Africa, US & Canada.


It’s time to up your game. VIRAT KOHLI. VIRAT KOHLI IS AN INDIAN CRICKETER. ONE OF THE TOP BATSMAN IN THE WORLD, HE IS THE CAPTAIN OF THE INDIAN TEST CRICKET TEAM. KOHLI ALSO ACTIVELY SUPPORTS OTHER SPORTS IN INDIA SUCH AS FOOTBALL AND TENNIS. VIRAT IS WEARING A TISSOT BALLADE, THAT HAS A POWERMATIC 80 MOVEMENT WITH A SILICON BALANCE SPRING FOR ULTIMATE PRECISION AND LONGEVITY.

SILICON BALANCE SPRING

T I S S O T WAT C H E S . C O M TISSOT, INNOVATORS BY TRADITION


POWER 50

Kesavan Muraleedharan

Dr. Khalid Maniar

Kulwant Singh

Kesavan Muraleedharan is a zealous businessman and philanthropist who through his untiring social commitment and an unwavering drive for excellence has created far-reaching and positive impact for his countrymen in India and the UAE. His career in the UAE began 40 years ago as an accountant of a company from where he rose to become its partner within a short time span with his acumen for business and hard work. Pursuing his entrepreneurial instincts, he ventured into the establishment of the Southern Franchise Company LLC that currently houses two leading brands, SFC Plus and India Palace, among others, and employs over 2,500 people.

He founded the firm, Crowe Horwath – UAE, in 1981, as a sole practitioner and in 2016 was ranked as the 5th largest accountancy network in the UAE with over 230 employees. He established Crowe Horwath – Oman in 1995 and presently has over 60 employees. Armed with a commitment to diligence and service, he is a visionary leader with the ability to develop and implement business solutions including turn around strategies. He is an expert in structuring group companies with an end view of successful succession, gaining maximum control, minimizing taxation and improving over-all efficiency. He is also member of the“International Who’s Who of Professionals in the U.S.A”.

Kulwant Singh, the Founder and MD of the Lama Group, a name well known in the tourism industry has been successful in taking his business beyond travel destinations. As President of the Indian Business & Professional Council (IBPC), he contributed his knowledge, skills and vast experience in helping build stronger business relationships among members of the Indian business community, as well as developing economic and cultural links between India and the UAE. Lama Tours is endorsed as an official tour operator inside the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, since the company is associated with up-scale hotels in the Dubai region and promotes them through their network.

Lachmandas Pagarani

Lalu Samuel

The Al Maya Group was established in 1982 and it has experienced tremendous growth from a single standalone grocery store in Ajman, into a reputable family owned conglomerate that has interests in food, distribution, manufacturing, packaging & retail. At the helm is the owner of the group, L K Pagarani who has lead the brand to great heights, and among its achievements is being recognized as a Super Brand in the UAE.

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Lalu Samuel is the Chairman and Managing Director for the following companies; Kingston Holdings, Rexton Technologies Middle East, Pierlite Middle East (an Australian Multinational) GP Middle East (an Asian Multinational Public listed in Hong Kong and Singapore) and Glen Dimplex Middle East (an Irish Multinational for the Middle East, Africa and Subcontinent Region). Kingston Holdings is the single largest investor in Sharjah Airport International Free zone. The joint ventures are formed through the investment arm, Kingston Holdings FZC. Apart from the above, Kingston owns Rexton which is also its flagship brand. He has managed to bring more than 25 high profile international brands to the UAE.


M. A. Yousuf Ali Managing Director of LuLu Group ranks today among the top business personalities. The Group has diversified into many significant areas under his dynamic stewardship, retail being the most prominent of them. His astute business vision and strategic mind have evolved ambitious growth plans for the Group and ensured their materialization through a team of people who share his drive and dynamism. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of United Arab Emirates, the Group is best known in the Gulf through a chain of popular Shopping Malls and Hypermarkets which serve the widest segments of multi-ethnic residents in the region. LuLu Group, with its 40,000 strong workforce from 37 different nations and operational bases extending over the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, Spain, Brazil and India, is one of the most successful corporates of the times with a steadily ascending growth curve over the years. With an annual turnover of US $ 6.9 billion globally.

Manohar Lahori Seeing the great potential in the trade links and growing infrastructure of the UAE, Manohar Lahori set up his first manufacturing unit in the Emirates. The Palmon Group has since gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the longest standing manufacturing, retail and logistics companies in the UAE. Mixing his knowledge of the Middle East with his expertise in specific industries, over the last 25 years the Group has gained numerous awards, recognition, and certificates of appreciation for its role in the growth of the garment industry in the UAE. Branching out to much more than its original core business of clothes manufacturing, the group now has over 12 different companies with a dedication to provide expert business solutions.

Micky Jagtiani Most people are amazed to learn that Micky Jagtiani founded his Landmark Group in 1973 with a single store in Bahrain. The well known Dubai-based company is now one of the largest retail conglomerates in the region. Jagtiani’s business interests now include children’s fashion, footwear and cosmetics, with additional expansion into leisure, hotels and electronics. Operating a string of international stores such as New Look, Shoemart, Steve Madden and Kurt Geiger, the Landmark Group has also developed its own brands including Maxx Fashion, Splash, the Baby Shop and Home Centre. Being in possession of such a diversity of brands, Jagtiani’s operations have achieved a turnover of $4.7bn a year. The Group has a presence in 18 countries with 1,300 outlets, 40,000 employees and manages a staggering 20 million square feet of retail space. With an estimated annual revenue of $6 billion, Landmark has more than 2,200 stores spread across the Middle East, Africa and India.

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Mohan Valrani Mohan G. Valrani is the Senior Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the Oasis Investment Company, established in 1971, as a holding company of the Al Shirawi Group of Companies. It is one of the largest and most successful business conglomerates in the UAE. Valrani leads a formidable 6,000-strong workforce that includes a handpicked 20% who are MBA and degree holders. Over 29 diversified companies, make up the Oasis Investment Company, which is active across a number of industries including manufacturing, engineering, trading, marketing, distribution, contracting and services. Entrepreneur and a philanthropist, Mohan Valrani has been awarded the Distinguished Fellow certification from the coveted Institute of Directors.

Nilesh Ved With over 1,530 stores and more than 75 international brands and racing to reach 2,000 stores by the end of 2020, the Apparel Group, under the patriarch Nilesh Ved, had a rather modest start. Commencing its operation with just one brand in 1999, Nilesh Ved was just rearing to gather momentum in the Retail industry. Gaining a strong foothold in the Gulf, the Apparel Group has crossed regional boundaries and embarked into the global market. In 1999, Nilesh Ved, now one of the leading Fashion Retailers in this part of the world, initiated his successful journey with three stores of Ninewest a U.S. shoe store brand with its first exclusive store in Lamcy Plaza. Success with the launch of a few stores allowed him a clear understanding of the retail market

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in the Gulf, thus allowing Nilesh to concentrate on his business strategy of further introducing new labels and expanding his reach to the consumer. Nilesh Ved belongs to a family of successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. His family runs the largest gold bullion trading in Dubai since 1904. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the prestigious Boston University. Since his early days, Nilesh was highly influenced by the North American retail environment and had a dream to bring in trendy fashion brands of the West to the Middle East, which seemed to be a promising market for retail. He is known for his rigorous pace of work andimpressive leadership skills with which he drives everyone towards his organization’s goals.

Mustafa Oliyath Vazayil Mustafa Oliyath Vazayil is the Founder and Managing Director of, Gargash Insurance Services, the region’s largest professional insurance intermediary. He has over 35 years exposure in Management Positions with leading multinational and national insurance companies. Currently he is the Board Member of the Federal Body of Insurers, Emirates Insurance Association. He is a regular speaker at major regional and international insurance forums. Apart from published papers, he regularly contributes articles in various regional insurance magazines. As a socially committed philanthropist he was recently nominated by the Government of Kerala to the Board of NORKA Roots, an agency of the State Government, looking after the interest of the Keralite Diaspora globally.


POWER 50

Paras Shahdadpuri From being a former diplomat with the Indian Foreign Service to heading a group of companies with diversified interests, Paras Shahdadpuri, Chairman, NIKAI Group of Companies indeed has taken a giant leap. He started with trading in commodities in 1988 and chose Dubai as the headquarters of his business activities and this laid the foundation of the NIKAI Group of Companies - a diversified business group which has forayed into Electronics, Home Appliances, IT, FMCG and Retail Food Chain. With a range of over 400 products the group claims to have more than 50 million satisfied customers in over 60 countries.

Raju T Jethwani

Pradeep Kumar Handa Pradeep Kumar Handa is the Chairman, Royale Hayat Hospital, Kuwait, Vice Chairman & Group CEO, KAPICO Group Holding Co KSCC. The KAPICO Group, in partnership with Kuwait’s Al-Ghannam family has rapidly emerged as the first truly multinational business with its origins in Kuwait and has transformed into a business conglomerate of global stature with interests across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. A consummate dealmaker, he spearheaded the KAPICO group’s diversification drive and has successfully transformed it into a global business with significant interests in Health Care, Life Style Retailing and Infrastructure.

For over three decades, Raju Jethwani’s brand, Eurostar, has imprinted itself in the hearts and minds of the Middle East market for a variety of products and services. Right from the start of operations in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980’s, he has built the company into a diversified conglomerate becoming a household name and market leader in Digital Satellite Receiving Systems while achieving a significant market share in a number of other verticals like Consumer Electronics & Home Appliances, Multimedia - Pay TV, FMCG & Trading, Distribution & Logistics, Telecom Projects, Real Estate & Facilities Management, DTDC Eurostar Express Courier, Solar and Thermal Power, LED Lighting systems, Security Solution, Water Solutions and Quantum Eurostar Energy Solutions etc.

P.N.C. Menon P.N.C. Menon is the founder Chairman of Sobha Group of companies. A first generation entrepreneur, he began his professional career by setting up an interior decoration firm in the Sultanate of Oman in 1976. Soon his business empire expanded to the U.A.E., Bahrain and Qatar with an unmatched reputation for quality construction and interiors. Seeing the potential in the Indian real estate market, which was in dire need of quality construction, he founded Sobha Developers in Bangalore in 1995. The company built its foundation on international quality standards and values and has created an unparalleled name for itself in the Indian real estate industry.

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POWER 50

Dr. Ram Buxani When Dr. Ram Buxani arrived in Dubai, at the age of 18, he had already survived the pangs of one of the most painful moments in the history of India – its Partition. Resilience would then be the first lesson that he learnt in life – sheer will power and determination to challenge every odd and overcome them. Today, as chairman of ITL Cosmos, Buxani has expanded his brand into a network of industries that include textiles, electronics, IT and hospitality. Yet, even at the pinnacle of his success, those who know him describe Dr. Buxani as a humble family man who still delights in collecting coins, watches and pens.

Ramesh Prabhakar

Ramesh Ramakrishnan

Ranjeet Chavan

The Transworld Group of Companies was established in 1977. Commencing operations as a shipping agency in Bombay, the group has now diversified into a multifaceted Shipping and Logistics conglomerate with a global presence. The activities of the group include: Ship Owning & Management (Bulk & Container Vessel) Common Carrier Container Feeder Service, Liner &NVOCC, Global Supply Chain-4PL Logistics, Project Logistics, Contract logistics &Warehousing, Surface Transport Shipping Agency, Freight Management (Air, Sea & Land), Coastal Container Operator, Shipping Agencies, Property Developers, and Event Management. As the Chairman of Transworld Group, Ramesh has become a well-respected businessman in the shipping and logistics industry thanks to his success in creating one of the region’s biggest shipping and logistics organization.

After a string of several positions in multiple companies and with a wealth of experience under his belt, Ranjeet Chavan along with his partners, started SPF Realty in 2006. His decades of experience in the industry led him to the conclusion that to be successful in the industry, there needs to be aggressive growth coupled with a strong focus on customer satisfaction. His philosophy is to put decision making in the hands of the customer by being extremely transparent and fair in the business practices and also by simplifying the complicated realty process as much as possible for them.

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Ramesh Prabhakar is the CEO of the Rivoli Group, which has rapidly expanded into the GCC with offices in the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain with a prestigious portfolio featuring over 110 topnotch international brands. Rivoli’s unique selling proposition is a discerning variety of premium products – from watches, eyewear and leather accessories to writing and luxury communication instruments. From its impressive headquarters on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, the group has earned and established a reputation as one of the largest importers, distributors and retailers of luxury products with over 300 stores in the region. The Rivoli Group which also manages on-board duty free sales for leading airports and airlines has received several awards from both government and industry as a leader and innovator in the retail sector, including the Best Service Excellence Award from the Dubai Economic Department.


POWER 50

Ravi Pillai The Saudi based RP Group’s booming success and relentless growth has been built on the vision and dynamism of one person at the helm — Dr Ravi Pillai. A multi-billion-dollar operation with over 70,000 employees today, it’s portfolio is highly diversified. RP Group has interests in construction, travel and tourism, healthcare, retail and education sectors. The flagship is of the organization is Nasser S Al Hajri Corporation, which is the

largest industrial contractor in the Middle East and the most prominent of the group companies. Ravi Pillai obtained his MBA from Cochin University and an honorary doctorate from Excelsior state University in the United States. In 2007, Dr Pillai was bestowed with the coveted Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award by the president of India for his commendable services to Non-Resident Indians and his exemplary track record as a leading businessman in the Arabian Gulf.

Sohan Roy Founder Chairman and CEO of Aries Group of Companies, a multinational consortium of 45 companies in 15 countries, Sohan Roy is not just a well accomplished business entrepreneur but also a globally acclaimed filmmaker who has proven his mettle with pioneering innovations in the Maritime business, Entertainment, and Media and Medical industries. He is the creator of the globally acclaimed & Oscar selected films and documentaries, founder of the first global maritime TV channel - Marine BizTV and first global medical channel - Medi BizTV, Founder of visual media based institute, AIMRI, creator of the first steel snake boat - Aries Punnamada Chundan, the designer of the unsinkable steel boat ‘Safe Botel’, creative head of ‘Topless Ship’ and mastermind behind the state-of-the-art internationally recognized software T.I.M.E (To Improve My Efficiency).

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Rizwan Sajan Rizwan Sajan is the Founder and Chairman of Danube Group. Hailing from a very humble background, he moved to Kuwait after the demise of his father, to work with his uncle. Following the Gullf war, he decided to move to Dubai and established Danube with his wife Sameera, being his first employee. The Danube Group is actively involved in a number of fields and has over 40 locations worldwide in countries including the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Bahrain, and India, with an employee strength of over 2,500 people. Key operations are under the labels of Danube Building Materials, Danube Home, Danube Properties and Alucopanel Middle East.


POWER 50

Sunny Varkey

Sudhakar Tomar He is the Managing Director of Hakan Agro DMCC, UAE’s largest agric & food systems supply chain multinational exporting over 3 Million MTs of Ag commodities valued at about $ 1.5 billon from 55 countries to over 1,000 customers in 100 countries. He is also the Founding Member & Honorary Chairperson (Communications & Sponsorships) of Global Pulse Confederation which represents interests of 18 national associations and over 800 Million farmers producing 70 million tons of pulses in 50 countries, valued at US$ 100 billion.

Founder and Chairman – GEMS Education and the Varkey Foundation Sunny Varkey is the Founder and Chairman of the GEMS Education Group. He is a passionate education entrepreneur who is the driver behind GEMS’ mission to advance education for all. Mr Varkey believes in the power of education to reduce poverty, prejudice and conflict around the world. To find new solutions to world education challenges, he has forged partnerships with the World Economic Forum, Microsoft and UNESCO. Mr Varkey’s visionary’s ambition and campaigning efforts have been widely recognised. In 2012 he was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Education Partnerships. The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education conferred an award of distinction for Mr Varkey’s service to education in 2011. The Indian Government has honoured him in 2009 with the Padmashri Award, one of the highest civilian honours, and the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Eminent Educationist in 2008.

Surender Singh Kandhari In 1976, Surender Singh Kandhari came to Dubai to grow the family business and formed the Al Dobowi Group. The group today is the leading management services provider in the UAE and has grown to have over 1,500 employees and have a significant presence in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Ghana, Europe and Canada. Kandhari is an avid golfer and is also a founding member of the World Trade Centre Club. He is also the Chairman of the Guru Nanak Darbar, Sikh Temple, Dubai - the First Sikh Gurudwara in the UAE; to name a few of his activities. H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development Abu Dhabi, UAE bestowed on him the “Business Excellence Award 2016” at the Indian Business Professional Council Business Summit 2016 in Dubai. On the festive occasion of Baisakhi in April 2016 Kandhari was honoured with the prestigious “Punjabi Icon Award” which is of international repute recognizing his achievement in the global corporate sector by the Punjabi Cultural Heritage Board (PCHB) He was also felicitated by the NDTV Gulf Indian Excellence Awards on 11 Dec 2016 as a truly outstanding Gulf Indian Business Leader and an inspiration for Indians across the globe.

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POWER 50

Tony Jashanmal

Ved Chhabra

Tony started his career with the Jashanmal Group of Companies in 1971 and is presently the Executive Board Member of the Jashanmal Group which has retail and wholesale distribution businesses throughout the Arabian Gulf as well as India. During his career at Jashanmal he established several new businesses within the company in sectors such as print media, men’s accessories, tobacco and fashion, and rebuilt the Kuwait operations following the Gulf War in the early 90s. He drove the Group’s expansion into India and established many of the joint ventures that the Group is part of today.

Hailed as the ‘first’ private entrepreneur to build and export the ‘first’ sea going vessel from India in the year 1976, Ved Sharan Chhabra has earned his name in the Indian shipbuilding and repair industry as an individual whose entrepreneurship skills made him establish his business in more than one continent panning India and Middle East. Today, Ved Chhabra heads a group of companies in ship building and repairs industry having their presence in MumbaiIndia (M/s Bombay Marine Engineering Works Pvt. Ltd.); Dubai-UAE (Inter Ocean Ship Repairs LLC.); Fujairah-UAE (International Ship Repairs FZE) and Ras-Al-Khaimah-UAE (EPC Emirates RAK LLC.). The group offers large, highly professional manpower resources with sizeable equipment and facilities to undertake repairs.

Vinesh Bhimani In 1988 Vinesh Bhimani started Kimoha, dealing in with paper converting and later expanded into label manufacturing for Product brands, Baggage Tags and Boarding passes for the aviation industry and Auto ID Data solution products at the Jebel Ali Free Zone, JAFZA, Dubai. The firm is presently acknowledged as Technologically the Best Gold LEED Certified Manufacturing Establishment. It’s 300 member team produce products reaching more than 50 countries and added a 1 MW Solar plant. With its pursuit of innovation and excellence, Kimoha has won prestigious awards like the Dubai SME Award, Dubai CSR Award, Green Building Award from Green Middle East Sharjah in 2012 for Environmental Excellence, the Gold & Bronze awards from Flexographic Technical Association USA in 2015, FINATaward in 2015, MRM Business Excellence Award in 2016, and the MRM Innovation award in 2017, to name a few. 20 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

Yogesh Mehta Driven by passion and a need to succeed, Yogesh Mehta established Petrochem Middle East in 1995 with his friend and business partner David Lubbock. Within five years, Petrochem Middle East became one of the largest independent petrochemical distributors in the Middle East. Yogesh is credited with an ability to carve water out of stone for his burning desire to succeed against all odds. That explains how he established a business by opening a stateof-the-art storage terminal for bulk and drum chemicals within five years from the company’s inception in 1995. Today Petrochem has offices all over the world with a turnover in excess of a billion dollars. Deepa Ballal is a freelance writer from UAE, soon to be based in Kenya.


Thousands of Indians arrive in the UAE and Gulf each year, in search of work and better paying jobs or business opportunities or to be with their families. While for many of the UAE’s 2.8 million Indians, the life of an expatriate offers economic and professional growth and worldly comforts, some unfortunately face unforeseen difficulties and even tragedy.

Top 10 Community Leaders

Making A Difference Reaching out with compassion Moved by the plight of their countrymen and women in distress, socially-conscious and altruistic Indians have stepped in from time to time, taking the lead to work with the authorities and extend a helping hand to the lonely, needy and underprivileged Indian expatriates helpless on their own. By Armenia Fernandes

K Kumar (left) with Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO, Dubai Community Development Authority and guests

K. Kumar: Helped Thousands over 16 years Among such socially responsible Indians is K Kumar, Chairman of Indian Community Welfare Committee, Dubai, who has impacted thousands of lives over the past 16 years. The Chennai native’s foray into community work began because of his squash playing mate, Col Mohammed Mubarak, the former Director of Dubai Central Prison, who involved him in raising AED75,000 in blood money for an Indian youth accused of accidental manslaughter. Realising the need for a dedicated welfare platform, Kumar put a proposal to the Indian Consulate and ICWC was born in 2000. Functioning under the Consul General of India (CGI) Dubai, Kumar guides 74 volunteer groups to assist Indians in trouble by arranging air ambulances, raising blood money, settling debts and freeing prisoners; besides holding English classes for blue-collared workers and visiting hospitals and jails. The group also helps to rehabilitate destitute women, advise ill-treated domestic workers, educate children affected by parents’ financial difficulties, sickness or death, repatriate needy patients, stranded workers and mortal remains of underprivileged Indians, and seek financial contributions from corporates. The first non-businessman to be awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2008, Kumar is working to set up an AED 20 million Indian Community Centre for Individuals with Disabilities; he serves as president of SAATHI and is a member of the Hindu Cremation Ground Committee. Kumar played a big part in the success of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in 2015. Kumar’s fluency in seven languages including Arabic, patience, perseverance and persuasive skills make him a highly effective negotiator and counselor. “All of us have time at our disposal. It is just a matter of having the will to run that extra mile and the willingness to care and share,”he says. K. Kumar with Maghanmal Pancholi the chairman of Arabian Trading Agency and the Founder, Chairman and Trustee of the Indian High School in Dubai.

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TOP 10 COMMUNITY LEADERS

Surender Singh Kandhari with wife Bubbles

Surender Singh Kandhari: A Gurudwara in the Middle East It is this spirit of caring and sharing that drove Surender Singh Kandhari, Founder and Chairman of the Dubai-based Al Dobowi Group, to take the initiative to build an ultra-modern place of worship for the UAE’s 100,000 strong Sikh and Sindhi communities. Kandhari’s 11-year effort led to the

opening of the AED 65 million Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple in Jebel Ali in 2012, the first such gurudwara in a predominantly Muslim Middle East. Constructed on a 25,000 square feet plot gifted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the opulent 3,000 capacity gurudwara is second only to the famed Harminder

Sahib, Amritsar’s Golden Temple and attracts thousands from the world over. Kandhari derives motivation from Guru Nanak’s teachings of universal“love, peace and humility”and as Gurudwara chairman, he organised the first annual World Interfaith Harmony Day in 2016. Through the Interfaith humanitarian service project along with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Darbar donated 8,500 hygiene kits and food packets to laborers in 2015 and 3,000 blankets to indigent bluecollared workers in 2016. ‘Seva’, is the key focus for the ISO certified-Darbar’s five-star kitchen, which has fed more than four million visitors since its launch. Free meals are served to 1,000 people daily and to over 10,000 visitors on Fridays, everyone is welcome. The gurudwara has hosted 148 marriages, becoming a favored venue for destination weddings. The 69 year-old Kandhari also financially supports orphanages and education of underprivileged in Delhi, Chennai and Amritsar in India. The Sikh businessman’s selfless work has been recognized through the 2012 ‘Sikhs in Seva’ award by World Sikh Awards UK.

Baba Sewa Singh and Surender Kandhari presenting a ceremonial sword to H E Mirza Al Sayegh

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Omana Menon: For the Love of Children Long-time Dubai resident Omana Menon has brought joy to many grateful expatriate couples and found a loving home for many children through her services as an authorised agent in the Middle East for India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority and the Adoption Support Group she founded in 1990. It was by chance that the prominent social worker launched into adoption services in 1986, when as president of the Dubai chapter of Indian Ladies Association, she was requested by an Indian couple to prepare a Home Study Report to back their application for adopting a child from India. Over the years, Omana has successfully helped couples with the tedious and time-consuming

Dr. Ashok Kumar: Veteran Educationist

Dr Ashok Kumar with students

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Over three decades of exemplary service in the field of Indian education, Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of Dubai’s leading CBSE curriculum Indian High School and Chairman of the Council of CBSE affiliated schools in the region, has almost single-handedly turned Gulf Indian schools into globally competitive players, equipping Indians with skills to excel on the international arena. “Dubai is emerging as a top destination for education but we must focus on happier schools with student-centric education. A community spirit among all stakeholders is needed. We have to adapt to changes in education and technology,” Dr Kumar observes. Under his able hand, IHS has been rated an ‘Outstanding’ school by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority for six consecutive years since 2011 and has twice bagged the Sheikh


TOP 10 COMMUNITY LEADERS

documentation process facilitating the adoption and relocation of more than 2,000 children across the region. Since joining the UAE Indian community in 1974, Omana has promoted socio-cultural events, espoused women’s causes, taken up charity work, counselled the needy, co-founded and chaired the ILA for two decades, and was an Indian High School Managing Committee member. On an average, she entertains 70 adoption requests in a year and hopes to train younger persons to carry on the noble work, not as a commercial venture, but with sincerity and commitment. “A task of this magnitude is never easy. One has to put 100 per cent effort into every communication. Dealing with prospective parents is challenging, but the end goal of finding a child for a home and a home for a child keeps me going. Being an instrument of happiness for so many is a reward par excellence,” says Omana.

Hamdan Award for Distinguished School and School Administration. Dr Kumar himself won the Sheikh Hamdan Award for Best Applied Project in 2008 for ‘Read to Lead’, the reading programme he designed and developed. The Indian government too honoured him with the Best Principal Award in 2001 and the National Award for Best Principal in 2002. Highly regarded within the UAE Indian community, Dr Kumar has involved students in raising funds for charities including the Rashid Paediatric Therapy Centre, Dubai Cares, Dubai Autism Centre, visiting labour camps and old age homes. IHS also serves as a venue for Indian consular events and is the first CBSE school in the MENA region to host an IELTS Registration and Test Center. “My students and colleagues motivate me. Learning never stops. Together, as a team, we set new goals and work towards them. With hard work, determination and passion, anything is possible,” believes the veteran educationist.

Bharatbhai Shah: The Community Elder As one of the oldest Indian residents in the Gulf, Bharat Kumar Jayantilal Shah has guided the community for well over the seven decades he has spent living in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Regarded as a father figure in the Indian community, Bharatbhai has promoted aspiring entrepreneurs, advised the young, raised funds for calamities in India, lent a ear to troubled families and couples, helped distressed women, secured the release of indebted prisoners and victims of bank fraud, campaigned for NRI rights, and raised funds for refugees and charitable organisations. Besides running his Dubai-based business, Al Mustaneer Trading, the

active octogenarian finds time to serve as Convenor of the NRI cell of Indian Business and Professional Council, Sharjah, is founding member of Overseas Indians Economic Forum Dubai, president of Gujarati Samaj in Dubai and vice-president of Gujarat Vishwa Samaj, Ahmedabad. “Social work is my religion,” declares the Gandhian, who has crusaded against alcoholism. Ably assisted by his wife Induben, he continues to collect old clothes and send them to his native Gujarat every two months. “My doors are open at all times,” says this approachable elder, whose contribution to the community was recognised with the Indian Government awarding him the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2014.

Bharatbhai Shah, wife Induben and former Indian Ambassador M K Lokesh

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TOP 10 COMMUNITY LEADERS

Indian community into a cohesive force. “My soul is at peace when helping people. Social work has been my hobby since the age of 10,” says the respected philanthropist, who was the first honorary teacher of The Indian High School and now

serves as a trustee on the school board. Shroff has been at the helm of Bur Dubai’s Hindu temple since 1958, and is now spearheading efforts to secure bigger premises for a community place of worship. He also raised funds for the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple in Dubai and led efforts to set up establishing the New Sonapur Hindu Cremation Ground in Jebel Ali, where he presently serves as committee head. “My door is always open to people with problems,” says this businessman who devotes 60 per cent of his time to community work. This has seen him arbitrating in business disputes; growing the India Club and Sindhi Ceremonial Centre; establishing a special needs children’s school in Dubai; developing his hometown of Deolali, Maharashtra; and supporting new temples all over the world. Shroff’s immense contribution has brought him 52 awards including this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. “We leave our country to progress. Wherever you work, work honestly and for the local country. Respect their laws and culture. Avoid bad habits and bad companions,” he advises.

bought them air fare and sent them home. His generosity has reunited thousands of anxious families with their loved ones. The 59-year old entrepreneur has so far spent about AED11 million in redeeming loans and

repatriating 4,500 inmates, mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Merchant, who receives 200 odd appeals for help daily, has earmarked AED 4 million to bail out thousands more from UAE and GCC jails this year. The youngest of nine siblings from a struggling Mumbai family, he cautions: “Don’t break rules. One silly mistake can lead to many other mistakes and individuals can end up in jail for silly reasons.” Merchant launched into philanthropy in 1998, chartering a plane for Indian consular and UAE authorities to repatriate 350 amnesty-seekers. He also supports the Red Crescent Society, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charitable Foundation, Zakat Fund Abu Dhabi and other charities. “For me, life has come full circle. I came to Dubai with lots of dreams. With the blessing of the Almighty and my hard work, I am in a place where I can help those who lost their dreams. Now it is my turn to do my bit,”says the soft-spoken billionaire who came to the UAE in the 1980s.

Vasu Shroff welcoming the Indian Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri

Vasu Shroff: Devoted to Community In his near 60 years in the UAE, Vasu Shroff, Chairman of retail conglomerate Regal Group Holdings has presided over various socio-cultural initiatives to mould Dubai’s

Firoz Merchant with UAE prison officials

Firoz Merchant: Setting Prisoners Free Philanthropy has taken Firoz Merchant, Founder Chairman of gold conglomerate Pure Gold Group, to the forgotten cells of UAE jails, where insolvent expatriates languish for years without hope. Spurred on by the plight of people hit by the 2008 crisis, the self-made tycoon approached Dubai prison authorities to pick out defaulting prisoners, repaid their loans,

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JUMBO GROUP Corporate website: www.jumbocorp.com | Buy online at: www.jumbo.ae


TOP 10 COMMUNITY LEADERS

CP Mathew: A Labour of love Following in his philanthropic businessman father’s footsteps, C P Mathew, Founder and Chief Co-ordinator of Sharjah-based NGO Snehathazhvara or Valley of Love, has devoted the past 20 years offering solace and support to troubled expatriates irrespective of caste, creed or nationality. A full-time volunteer for death cases listed at the Indian Consulate General in Dubai, Mathew led VOL teams during the 2007 amnesty, toiling with the Dubai government day and night for three months to provide food, water and counselling services to amnesty seekers. Starting out informally as a group of eight to rehabilitate and repatriate 350 abandoned women factory workers in Sharjah, VOL has grown to 200odd volunteers. So far, the NGO has handled an approximate 1,500 patient repatriations and 825 death cases, negotiated five diya or blood money cases, and

supports patients in the UAE by sourcing prescribed medicines from India. It’s scope has widened to include visits to government hospitals, labour camps and jails; assistance in medical, legal, financial, repatriation and adoption formalities; organising clothes collection and charity drives; blood donation and medical camps; helping job-seekers; providing eye donors data bank; offering free legal advice; and participating in civic campaigns. Mathew finds most expatriates’ problems arising out of ignorance about official procedures and a hesitance in approaching authorities. Inability to repay high interest loans also gets a large number in trouble, he adds, noting the absence of a proper awareness platform and mechanism to address these issues. Mathew’s humanitarian efforts have been lauded by the Dubai Police and the media.

Umarani Padmanabhan: A ‘one-woman army’ Umarani Padmanabhan’s foray into community service began when, while taking her businessman husband to a Dubai hospital for daily treatment of kidney stones, she noticed many patients suffering alone, with none to console or care. She stepped in, chatting with them, bringing home-cooked food or telephoning kin in India. This evolved into full-time social work. Umarani has lost count of the people she has helped over the past 28 years. Sincerely happy to help, she responds to every plea, volunteering for the Indian Consulate and corporates to escort the ill or injured or accompany human remains to India, often at short notice, four or five times a month. A ‘one-woman army’, she visits hospitals, organises travel documents to repatriate patients and bodies, negotiates for loan waivers of ill and poor workers, helps overstaying residents exit without a ban, and handles formalities for local cremations, often working well beyond midnight. Umarani’s organisational skills hugely benefited the community during the two amnesty periods. In 2007, she clocked

Ashraf Tammaraserri: ‘Friend of the Dead’ For most people, the thought of dealing with the dead is an unpleasant, morbid proposition. But for 42 year-old Ashraf Tammaraserri, who runs a garage business in Ajman, it has become a life mission. Rightly dubbed a ‘Friend of the Dead’, this Kerala native has, over the past 15 years, helped to repatriate bodies of 3,886 UAE residents to 38 countries, irrespective of nationality, religion or social status. Most of these repatriations are of single low-earning workers from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and Ashraf often accompanies the body on the flight home. What led him to this form of social service was seeing the helpless plight of two youngsters crying over their dear father’s corpse outside Kuwaiti Hospital in Sharjah, not knowing how to tackle legal procedures or raise monies to fly the body back to India. Ashraf helps with speedy processing of the 126 documents from police, hospitals, embalming centres, cargo and airlines, involved in the costly process of repatriating a body. Devoting entire days to this tedious task, he completes the formalities in a week, working for free, without an office or staff, raising funds from individuals or welfare associations but often spending from his own pocket. Widely feted, Ashraf received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2015. His humanitarian work has even inspired a book and a film. This unassuming Indian remains driven by the belief that a man’s final resting place should be his own native village. “People come to me. I never decline. I will continue to serve till my last breath,”he says.

Umarani Padmanabhan with former President of India, Late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

18-hour days working with immigration officials to distribute food and process papers besides coordinating with sponsors to put thousands of amnesty seekers on specially chartered flights back home. Umarani’s compassionate work has earned her appreciation awards from the Dubai Government and community groups in the UAE and India.“When people call back to thank and share their happiness, I feel encouraged to do more. Each day brings its own challenge. But what I am doing is just a drop in the ocean,”she says modestly.

Ashraf Tammarasseri receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award from the Vice President of India, Dr Hamid Ansari

Armenia Fernandes is a freelance writer based in UAE. 28 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017


“The world’s most modern industrial battery plant, making a world class product for the global market”


Do Indians Have an Inbuilt Achievement DNA? According to the Harvard Business Report of 2014, CEOs are India’s biggest export commodity. This comes as little surprise since there seems to be an inbuilt trait in the Indian DNA to work hard and succeed especially in foreign shores. To those it eludes, success is an ambiguous reverie. But for those who have toiled to reach its pinnacle, success is more than just a figure on the bottom line of financial statements. TII spoke to a few entrepreneurs who have tasted success to find out what sets them apart from their counterparts. Is success the result of an inbuilt DNA sequence or is it a combination of self-cultivated factors? By Zenifer Khaleel

Tech power by people power Kunhamed Bicha went to pursue his MS in Industrial Engineering from Wichita State University in Kansas in 1991. By 1995, he had started the Sienna Group in the Bay Area of California along with a friend. Today he is the CEO of the group which is a global manufacturing outfit mainly providing lifecycle solutions to various industry verticals like Aerospace & Defence, Railways, Industrial Automation, Networking & Telecommunications, Oil & Gas, Medical & Automotive. The internal capabilities are Printed Circuit

Board Assembly, Cable Harnessing, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Machining, Plastic Injection Moulding, Complete Production Integration and Testing. A group company Sienna ECAD provides Electronic Product design services which enable customers to get a complete lifecycle solution. The operations in the US are headquartered in Atlanta. The other manufacturing locations in the US are in Fremont CA, East Windsor CT (Aerospace Factory) and Batesburg SC (Railway Factory). Their factories in India are located in Chennai and Bangalore

KB as he is affectionately known by friends and family attributes people power as the clear reason for his success.“Be it my fellow board members, management team, colleagues, customers or bankers; they have all been exceptionally brilliant. I am fortunate to have tremendous family support to achieve my goals, especially from my father, T.P Imbichahmed.”, he says. “Getting the best out of my team is certainly my role as CEO. I have enjoyed having really smart, hardworking and visionary colleagues around me to make things happen. Nobody believed that complex electronic products and aircraft engine parts could be made in India, but my team has more than proved their worth.” Over the years KB’s company has received various performance related awards from the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India.“But the most cherished accolades are the ones which have come from our customers,” he enthuses. KB enjoys travelling and hiking as it him helps him recharge and get back into work mode with a clear mind. He has set clear distinctions for time with work, family and friends and one does not supercede the other. His wife Leenaz gives him ample support and manages the household. Three strapping boys Rehaan, Sameer and Zayed complete the family. “Success is reaching the destination you go looking for. Sometimes you might not reach the intended destination but a better one. If things don’t work out according to plan, one should have the resilience to bounce back.” says KB.

Kunahmed Bicha and his family

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INBUILT DNA

Ingredients of success

Gaurav and Anisha

The win-win approach Juhi Yasmeen Khan is one of those lucky people who has turned her hobby into a full time profession. As a child, fashion trends and meeting new people fascinated her and this lead to the creation of the JYK fashion house in Dubai in 1998. JYK used to sell only her designs before she turned it into a multi-designer fashion house in 2009. She is also the founder and MD of Weekender Trading in Sharjah, which is a distributor of fashion products. “One of our biggest achievements is that we have been providing a platform to upcoming designers and other talents in the field of fashion, retail & distribution to showcase their talent and thrive in their careers. So far we have helped hundreds of unknown faces become stars in their own field of interest & expertise.”says Juhi. “When I go for a business deal, I look for not only potential benefits but that the other party is also getting a good deal out of it. This practice not only keeps giving us repeat business

Gaurav Varma took over the reigns as Director of the Royal Orchid Group of restaurants (UAE) from his illustrious father Vinay Varma in 2008. Since then the business has doubled and the group owns seven different brands through 15 outlets “We started back in 1985 with Kwality Restaurant as the first Mughlai Indian restaurant in its days. In the early 90s, my mother Nira Varma felt a more casual vegetarian option should be available, so Chhappan Bhog came into being.” Gaurav’s main aim is to stay true to the brand that was created by his parents, while catering to the needs of the present. The group has won over 30 prestigious awards in recent years. “It’s a 100% people’s business. We have team members who joined us back in 1985, and are still a part of our success even today. Some of them jestingly claim they have spent more time with us than their families” says Gaurav. “Sometimes when you hesitate or are afraid to take the risk, we need that one person who keeps pushing us towards achievement, without losing values. Luckily, I have my wife Anisha for that. She is also the Director Marketing & Public Relations, of the group.” Gaurav loves travelling the world and playing with his two boys Shivansh and Krishiv .He believes success has only has 2 ingredients – customer and staff loyalty. “We have people coming in, whose parents used to dine with us back in the 80s. When our team members serve those guests today, they feel a surge of loyalty and pleasure from it. That (for me) is a benchmark of success.” says Gaurav who plans to make the group a global brand in a few years’ time.

from our existing clients/partners, but it also reduces our cost of marketing as we get major promotion through word of mouth.” As a passionate philanthropist, Juhi has associated with various charitable organisations in and outside UAE and India. She founded a support group for women called – ‘Women Helping Women’ in the year 2013, where the members of the group help out fellow women in need in whatever personal capacity possible. Her relentless efforts won her the ITP Masala Awards in 2016 for Best Charity Initiative. “It’s very easy to maintain a work/ life balance, if you are not motivated by greed.”says Juhi.“Thanks to the principles instilled in me by my parents, I value life and people more than material success. So, I work for as long as it does not interfere with my wellbeing & happiness. If it comes to that point I switch off from work completely. I don’t compromise on these principles even if I have to lose some business.”

Juhi Yasmeen Khan

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History of Seaplanes in the UAE

The First Seaplane to Land in 1937 The people of Dubai had their first intimate look at a seaplane in 1937, but these crafts weren’t new to the world. A Frenchman, Henri Fabre had built and landed the first seaplane back in 1910. Only a year later, passengers were treated to an aerial view of the city of Venice on Italy’s first seaplane. A technological race flickered across the West as engineers tried to perfect the design. WWI provided further stimulus and funds for seaplane development, and by the time the 1930’s swung around, seaplanes were a fairly standard mode of travel. On a scorching July day of 1937, it was an Imperial Airways seaplane that landed on the Dubai Creek. Part of the British crown’s strategy in connecting its fledging empire, these planes dramatically reduced travel time between distant colonies. England to Australia could now take just ten days, a remarkable feat at the time. Before the seaplanes, it had been an arduous journey by land or water that was measured in weeks

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or even months. This flying boat service hopped from Europe to the east, with Dubai being part of a route from Southampton to Karachi (now part of Pakistan), via Marseilles, Rome, Brindisi, Athens, Alexandria, Tiberias, Habbaniyeh, Basra, Bahrain, Dubai and Jiwani. Most passengers stayed on board for the full five days as they headed off to what was then, British India. While the landscape of Dubai looked very different back then, the opulent onboard style was more akin to the lavish developments of modern-day Dubai. Passengers lounged across two decks that resembled a gentleman’s club in the sky, with a smoking room, saloon, and beds to snooze on.

Seaplanes in the UAE in the Late 1930’s By early 1938, four planes a week were landing on the Dubai Creek, with the airline paying 440 rupees (around US$150) a month for the privilege. At the time, the town had

no electricity, nor a concrete building or paved road. For passengers coming from Europe, this small town sandwiched between desert and sea must have looked like the edge of the world. Yet passengers would not only disembarked their luxury seaplane in Dubai, they would spend the night. This can be seen as the first example of tourism in the UAE, some 29 years before anyone struck oil in the territory.

Development of Seaplane Services in the UAE During the 1940’s World War II caused the British to rethink their seaplane strategy. Planes were unable to land in Singapore due to conflict and the long five or ten-day journeys were considered too perilous. Availability of fuel also necessitated a re-evaluation of routes. Imperial Airways was rebranded as the British Airways Corporation (BOAC) which focused on connecting London with Cairo and Durban (South Africa). These flights were supplemented by a network of Short


ADVERTORIAL Empire Class Flying Boats that operated around the Middle East, connecting Dubai to destinations like Khartoum, Cairo, Basra, and Karachi. Passengers could also switch to Qantas Flying Boats and continue their journey east to Australia and New Zealand. By 1944, eight seaplanes a week were landing in the Dubai Creek as part of what was known as the Horseshoe Loop. Infrastructure was developed and a permanent jetty was constructed on the Deira side of the water. This was Dubai’s first commercial airport, a concrete strip where people could disembark and supplies could be loaded. Passengers were whisked away to neighboring Sharjah, where they would spend the night in the Sharjah Fort and Hotel, which stood on the edge of a British airbase. An airstrip had stood in Sharjah since 1932 but it was only used by military planes. For commercial operations, these flying boats were faster and more comfortable than the land-based DH86 biplanes of the time. With a top speed of 160mph, they whisked people and mail all over the Middle East.

Seaplanes Stop Calling in UAE in 1947 Almost as suddenly as they appeared, World War II’s side effects brought an abrupt hiatus to seaplanes in the UAE. War had meant huge investment in air travel for military purposes. Governments ploughed vast resources into developing an effective air force. As an offshoot, all the war bombers required airports with a bigger capacity than any creek could accommodate. This investment in airports led to the demise of the seaplanes and in 1947.

2004: A Seaplane Returns to Dubai Some 67 years after, a new generation of locals witnessed the return of the seaplane in 2004. This plane was a museum piece that had been used to evacuate German citizens during World War II. Recovered from a German aviation museum and fully refurbished, it was flown by Iren Dornier, grandson of the founder of Dornier Aircraft. After touching down in the creek, Dornier made a demonstration flight around Dubai a few days later, carrying a couple of VIP passengers and cruising at up to 200mph. The seaplane had returned to the UAE.

LLC launched commercial seaplane tours and charters in the UAE. These journeys provided aerial tours of the UAE, taking off from the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and helping rediscover the thrill of travelling by seaplane. Whisking passengers to 1500 feet, the route soared past the iconic city skylines, offering sublime views of the country’s architectural marvels. Like the very first plane to land in Dubai, the amphibian aircraft was geared towards a luxurious experience. Rather than the smoking room and gentleman’s club, the plane had large leather seats, personal viewing windows, and comfortable air conditioning.

Seaplanes in Dubai in 2017 Seaplanes are now a common part of the Dubai skyline, no longer the strange sight that fascinated locals in 1937 or 2004. Seawings remains the only seaplane operator in the UAE and its fleet has grown to three Cessna 208 amphibian aircrafts. Their scenic flights swoop past the heritage of the UAE, taking in some of the world’s highest and

most recognisable buildings. Panoramic views of Dubai offer a timeless look at how the desert has been architecturally transformed, the scorched yellow stretching out beside glistening towers and shimmering ocean. It’s become an allure for international visitors and a unique way to experience one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations. Taking off from Dubai Creek adds an evocative sense of aviation history to the trip. There’s now up to 16 seaplane takeoffs a day, meaning the old creek airstrip is being used far more than it ever was. Seawings also operate a seaplane charter service with capacity to land at 25 destinations within the UAE. These include major airports, making for an exclusive transfer from the waterfront to an international flight. Al Ruwais and Ras Al Khaimah are among the other destinations that give Seawings the widest reach of any operator within the region. For many decades it seems that the innovative seaplanes had forever disappeared from the UAE. Now they’re back and they’re flourishing, as thrilling now as they were in the 1930’s.

Commercial Seaplane Journeys Resume in Dubai in 2007 Three years after Dornier’s dramatic entrance into the Dubai Creek, Seawings

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INBUILT DNA

Of numbers and words

Rajiv and Meghna

Rajiv Shah, CEO of Gulf Investment Consultants (GIC) in Abu Dhabi, believes that working outside India has motivated him to perform better in life. He feels that every non-resident Indian’s achievement is an inspiration for the national spirit and ambition. GIC is a company promoted by seasoned finance and management professionals with combined experience in management, finance and investment for decades in the Middle East. For the past five years they have been inspiring and transforming corporates by providing creative and unique financial and management solutions for their day to day growth needs. “We work closely with clients to understand their needs and consistently provide customized solutions for their various financial needs. I focus on leading from the front and outperforming the competition,” he asserts. As a chartered accountant, Rajiv has chaired the Abu Dhabi chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India during 2015 and 2016. He is presently the General Secretary of the Indian Business and Professional Group in Abu Dhabi. “For me family is the top priority and I ensure I spend maximum time with them. My wife Meghna is my pillar of strength and bonding with my teenage daughter Anushri and my twin sons Praket and Pranet are my biggest stress busters” says Rajiv. A man of multifaceted talents Rajiv is adept at playing squash, singing and dancing. But his latest avocation is being an author. He recently released a romantic murder mystery titled Forever which is part of a trilogy. Forever has been launched successfully in UAE and India. He even had veteran ghazal singer Pankaj Udas complimenting on the story line. “I have a list of things I want to do before I hang up my boots in life. I am busy ticking off these items. If I am able to complete 90% of my to-do list, I would consider myself successful.”

Rajiv’s book launch with Pankaj Udhas

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INBUILT DNA

Srivalsan Murugan with family

Nurturing the future It is said that teaching is the profession that creates all other professions. Srivalsan Murugan has been in this revered profession for the past 24 years and is now the Principal & CEO of Our Own English High School Sharjah, (Boys’ branch). The school is part of the Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) network which is one of the largest private education providers in the world. It has been providing high quality education for the past three decades and has been

operating from its current purpose built campus since 2007. Srivalsan’s instrumental role in the school’s success has been in providing teachers and students the vision and motivation to maximise their potential. “Our academic results speak for itself, but we are also arguably the best in cricket in the UAE having won all the three titles in the National School League Championship. The school has a great name in quizzing and debates, theatre and music and all other fine art forms.”

states Srivalsan “We are fortunate to have a very strong team of dedicated teachers, parents who are collaborative and who place implicit trust in the school. We also have great support in terms of governance from GEMS School Support Centre (Professional development for Staff, Standards and Quality Assurance, recruitment Student empowerment etc).” Srivalsan dedicates 10 to 11 hours every week day to the operations and management of the school. But once he returns home, he is a complete family man. “My wife Sudha and daughter Shruti are very precious to me. Fridays are sacred and only spent with family and friends for outings. Summer breaks and short term breaks are also with the family mostly travelling to places which we have not visited.” “Success, to me is enjoying what I do, and delivering what we promise to our students. We are working towards ensuring that innovation plays a key role in our operations. We encourage our students to embrace the ‘Spirit of Giving’ and work towards achieving the national agenda parameters as enunciated by our national leaders.” he concludes. The age old dictums which equate success to financial achievements have been redefined by these dynamic entrepreneurs. Based on their discourse, achievement can be envisioned as a process of evolution and attainment of satisfaction in which the parameters are a healthy balance of hard work, family, fun and work ethics.

Zenifer Khaleel is a freelance writer based in the UAE. THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 35


COMPARING LIFE

Comparing life in the Indian Diaspora Migration is omnipresent. From the annual migrations in the animal world to the continuous one of the human species in search of better work conditions and life, has undoubtedly pushed people to brave the choppy seas, the harshest of weathers, sometimes even face discrimination in an altogether alien land, which they end up calling ‘home.’ In no time when the pros outnumber the cons, few want to go back to their roots if the extended branch promises security. By Deepa Ballal

A

ccording to a recent UN survey on international migrant trends, India’s Diaspora population is the largest in the world with 16 million people from India living outside their country in 2015. Owing to this, experts believe the distinctions between countries of origin, transit and destination are nearly obsolete. Life abroad for an Indian undoubtedly, is a roller coaster ride. From filling gas at petrol stations to delivering pizzas, to sticking to boring jobs, they relentlessly pursue their dreams. With its ups and downs the ever-resilient Indian in many cases chooses to stay rather than flee. Somewhere hidden behind the glossy picturesque photos that we get to see of all our NRI relatives is the story of struggle, the losses and the many setbacks that they face living in lands that promise triumph with the right dose of grit and hard work. US, UK, Canada, Kenya, Singapore, Australia, Germany and New Zealand are some of“the places”where one can find Indians in large numbers. It’s not strange that in these places some suburbs, neighborhoods and even schools have exclusively become Indian. Adapting to a new life abroad in the initial years can be unbelievably daunting as it offers a strange mix of excitement and trepidation. TII posed a set of questions to people residing in these different parts of the world.

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Vikas with Shwetha

LIFE IN THE USA Name: Vikas Pejaver Occupation: Post-doctoral fellow (scientist) University of Washington Lives in: Seattle Originally from: Bangalore Born and brought up: Dubai Vikas came as a student to the USA, eight years ago, met his life partner Shwetha and like many typical young couples in the US he has concerns of work-life balance, budgeting and planning for long-term settlement in the U.S., India or elsewhere. He does miss India because of the sense of community he finds lacking in America. “People dropping in unannounced, getting invited to ceremonies and celebrations at short notice, doing quick favors for people, these things force you to interact with your circle. I feel that, here, such impromptu moments rarely happen and it takes more effort to develop and lead a social life,”he says.

Initial challenges My transition was relatively smooth, as I had grown up abroad and was well traveled. The bigger challenges were

adapting to living with room-mates, having to make independent decisions and managing my time in a completely new academic system.

Family life Of course, my opinion about my ideal partner evolved quite a bit, after I came here. Aside from the important compatibility aspects, I felt that whoever I would marry should be capable of leading an independent career for the first few years of our marriage. In a place like the US, due to financial and social reasons, life is much easier if both partners earn and contribute to the household income.

The best part of living in the US The work culture here is something that I have grown to like over the years. The focus on productivity in terms of deliverables and not the number of hours worked provides a lot of flexibility in how much time one chooses to spend at work, and this allows for more personal time for yourself and your family. There is a lot of emphasis on innovation, collaboration and independence.


COMPARING LIFE

LIFE IN CANADA Name: Alwyn Pereira, 46 years, Occupation: Creative Digital Media Specialist. From: Mangalore Lives in: Toronto (since 2006) Alwyn left India in 1996, to pursue his career in the field of digital media. Having lived in Dubai and Muscat for 10 years, he migrated to Canada with his wife owing to the prevailing job insecurity. Relocating back to India was not an option, but he does miss the exotic Manglorean cuisine, though Bollywood movies and Shyamak Davar’s dance classes bring in that much needed Indian connect.

Initial challenges Our experience in Canada has been challenging especially in the beginning with the kind of professions we were skilled with. There was a time when we almost lost hope of getting even a menial job to sustain ourselves. It took almost 6 months with no job with our small savings almost depleted to single digits but with persistence, unconditional faith and the grace of the almighty, it happened one fine day. A distant friend helped me get my dream job in a Television broadcasting company. We moved into our home that we bought in 2009.

What is the best part of living in Canada? People out here respect each other not by what they possess but for the true human being they are.

What is it about Canada that you do not like? Canada is known for it’s extreme weather conditions especially during the winter that lasts for almost 5-6 months. The rest of the year we get to enjoy spring, summer and autumn with so much outdoor activities and natural landscape that you forget the harsh climate when it gets cold. Like any Western country, racism does exist at various levels but it is important to remember to be yourself, value your culture, embrace your upbringing, be confident and move forward.

Alwyn Pereira with his wife Maria and daughters Karen and Trisha.

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COMPARING LIFE

Calvin Roche

LIFE IN NEW ZEALAND Name: Calvin Roche, Occupation: Real Estate agent From: Mumbai Lives in: Auckland Calvin came on a visit visa with his grandfather to meet his Uncles who were settled for over 30 years in New Zealand. He fell in love with the place and was lucky enough to find a job. But the urge to be self employed was more appealing than a 9-5 existence. He ended up buying second hand cars and selling them after minor repairs at weekend fairs. After a few years once he got his residency he completed a course in real estate and today takes pride in having helped lots of families own their dream home and lots of investors build their wealth in real estate.

LIFE IN AUSTRALIA

Initial Challenges

Name: 38, Jerry Cherian, Occupation: IT Infrastructure Engineer Lives in: Melbourne, Australia (since 2004) Originally from: Kottayam, Kerala Born and Brought up: Abu Dhabi Jerry Cherian’s parents moved to Abu Dhabi in 1973, in search of better opportunities not just for themselves but a better life for the extended family back home. Having moved to Melbourne for his Masters, Jerry struggled to begin with, eventually got a job, got married, bought a house and became an Australian citizen.“Unfortunately, there is not much savings, but you lead a good life,”he says. The best part he says is the time he gets to devote to his family. He makes it a point to visit India every year to see his siblings. “I am very particular that my kids learn the importance of relations, love and their Indian culture,”he says. He does miss India and ensures he never misses a match when the Indian team comes to play.“I still get goose bumps whenever the national anthem is played at the MCG. Even when my flight touches the Indian tarmac, I automatically end up having a smile on my face,”he says.

I came to Australia to do my Masters in Computer Networks. I took up Carwashing, worked as a part-timer in various call-centers, service stations as well as a kitchen hand to cover my daily expenses. After completing my Masters, I got a job in IT as a Service Desk Analyst.

Family life Being in Australia, the father is required to be with the mother while she goes through labor and delivery of the child and witnessing that, changed my attitude towards women. I always thought men and women are equal, but after this I realized that their value to this world is much more.

The best part of living here I have been made redundant from work twice in my life here in Australia. However, I was successful to secure a job within a couple of weeks both the times. Growing up in Abu Dhabi was a different scenario compared to the life here. You need to be more independent here. You do not get to hire maids and laborers to do your work. You do it yourself or end up paying hefty amounts. In Abu Dhabi, you had to worry about crossing paths with the locals on how they would react. We have no such fears here, in Australia everyone is equal.

What is the best part of living here NZ is an amazing country, clean and green, very low crime rate, the local people are very friendly and over the years NZ has become quite multicultural offering great diversity.

Do you miss India? Yes I do miss India but not as much, however I visit at least once a year as I miss my friends, the food and the hustle bustle.

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Jerry and Deepthi Cherian with their daughters Joanne Mariam and Jessica Mariam


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COMPARING LIFE

LIFE IN THE UK Name: Raga D’silva (mid forties) Occupation: Managing Partner, Speaking Minds From: Mumbai Lives in: UK and India Working for a well known advertising firm, and finding no work-life balance with commuting for 4-5 hours each day, Raga left India in 2001, with her young kids for a better quality of life.“To see the kids’ blossom in a country that provides great opportunities for the younger generation is very gratifying,”she says. Today she holds a New Zealand passport, has a home there and has her offices in India, NZ and UK.“Now I work between UK and India and live half time in each country,” she says. Her entrepreneurial story has also been shared in a book ‘Leading ladies’ written by Rohin Rathour, in UK – stories of 33 leading ladies from around the world, mostly India and UK.

What is the best part of living in the UK?

Girish Kumar Puttur Family

LIFE IN SINGAPORE

Initial challenge

Name: Puttur Girish Kumar, 52 years. Lives in: Choa Chu Kang, Singapore. Occupation: HOD, Mathematics in a secondary school. Originally from: Udupi Citizenship: Singapore, since 2007 Puttur moved to Singapore in 1995, which he best describes as, “A fulfilling journey, though stressful, it has been rewarding.” The security, cleanliness and meritocracy prevalent here won his heart and he applied for citizenship, which helped him build his career. “Apart from having the benefit of visa-free travel to many parts of the world, being a Singapore citizen helped me save a lot of money in terms of school fees of my children, getting a subsidized flat etc,” he explains.

In the early years (late 90s), the awareness of India in Singapore was very limited. Most of the people thought that India is Chennai and all Indians speak Tamil. They also had the mindset that all Indians are dark. While most Singaporeans believe in peaceful coexistence of various races, they still had some reservations in accepting Indians as their neighbors. They did not invite other races to their homes and didn’t respond to invitations as well. However, there is a lot of positive change in recent times.

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The diversity of cultures here is really heartwarming. There are many opportunities available for young people. The buzz here is like Mumbai, and it’s easy to make your presence felt if one has something to offer that is of benefit to the community.

Are perceptions about India changing - why? People like us who travel, who are positive contributors to society, who represent India positively all help in changing perceptions of India. Television and media is also playing a great role. PM Modi’s visit to foreign countries, especially the UK last year has all contributed to the perception of India being on the incline to some very impactful stuff that will help the world.

What do you think of India today? While I am happy with the progress being made, I also feel sorry for the underprivileged who are yet to benefit from India’s progress. I also detest the political bickering happening on a daily basis which hampers real growth.

Raga D’silva


LIFE IN GERMANY Name: Preety Bhargava Age: 40 year old married woman Occupation: Engineer by profession. From: Jaipur, Rajasthan Lives in: Hamburg (Germany). Preety was born in Germany and spent the first one and a half years of her life in Stuttgart, south Germany. But her family went back to India, and saw her return to Bremen with a degree in Electronics Engineering.“I fell in love with the city of Bremen right from the first day, not only because of its beauty but because of its warm hearted and welcoming people. Being a port city, Bremen is very international. I was fortunate to have a German family (long time family friends) in Bremen who made it possible for me to come to Bremen. I worked, got my Masters degree and married the man I fell in love with.

The best part of living here It was the uncomplicatedness to integrate with society. People here treated me with respect and dignity irrespective of my gender or my skin color! For the first time I felt free and independent as a woman which I never felt in India! No one was bothered about my marital status or the way I chose to spend my leisure time. When I worked hard, I saw good results. People did not ridicule my broken German; on the contrary, it motivated me to speak more. So to sum it up, I owe Germany my identity and my self-respect which I did not find in India and would probably never have found.

Do you consider yourself an Indian? I believe it was a good decision to settle in Germany. I associate myself with both Germany and India and cannot live without anyone of them. I am no longer a complete Indian but I will never be a complete German. I am a bit of both and both cultures enrich my life. I am very proud of that! I try to spend time in India too whenever I can and as much as I can. My last visit to Jaipur was in Feb 2016. I am always happy to unite with my family in India and try to visit them every second year, and every alternate year my father tries to visit me in Germany. So far it has worked out well and I hope it continues.

Lakhvir Singh Khalsa with a colleague in the newsroom of Radio Africa Group in Nairobi

LIFE IN KENYA Name: Lakhvir Singh Khalsa Occupation: Branding consultant, motivational speaker, writer and history enthusiast Lives in: Nairobi Originally from: New Delhi The Sikh community from the Punjab has had a strong presence in all facets of the economies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The older generation Sikhs and other Indians were originally brought by the British colonizers as indentured laborers in the early 1900s to work on the construction of the railway line connecting Kenya and Uganda, and later Tanganyika (now Tanzania). Many of them stayed on making Kenya their home. Lakhvir Singh Khalsa, a young Sikh is categorized as a comparatively ‘recent arrival’ who came to Kenya in the 1980s when his father got a job here. “India is the land of my birth, but Kenya is my home,”he says.“It’s been over 35 years since we came to Kenya and we count ourselves fortunate to have come to live in a truly blessed country - wonderful and friendly people, exceptional weather, amazing scenery and wildlife,”he says.

Initial challenges To begin with, we were almost ‘alone’ but never lonely. We all began our education from scratch, including English which we knew not a word of back then. We all studied in Nairobi and have completely settled here

as Kenyan citizens.

What is the best part of living in Kenya? It fills me with pride of just how we have never felt alienated in any way, despite our distinct Sikh identity. Our African brethren accord the highest respect to Sikhs here for their hardworking, all-embracing and generous nature. There is a vibrant Indian population in Kenya of all mixed faiths and cultures Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Goans and Jains.

Do you miss India? No. Kenya is my home. I still admire and respect India as a country where the Sikh faith was born. Besides, even when the desire or need arises to visit India, all it takes is a flight. We still have relatives back in India, but the connect has grown weaker and social media has made it easier to not miss anyone as we get instant connect at the touch of a button - both with people and the country.

Do you consider yourself Indian? Over the years, I have come to understand that my identity is defined by my connection to the Sikh faith and to my country Kenya - which is why I refer to myself as a kenyankalasingha (kalasingha is the respectful term with which our Kenyan African brothers call Sikhs). I am more African than Indian. I may not have been born in Kenya, but Kenya was born in me.

Deepa Ballal is a freelance writer from UAE, soon to be based in Kenya. THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 41


ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ

The two brothers at the Gateway of India the British arrived and left India from here

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ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ

WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR THE ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ? AN ENGLISHMAN GOES BACK TO RELIVE IT ALL Bob’s father in the early thirties taken in Calcutta

Robert Parker (Bob) , CEO of Holborn Assets the global financial advisory group based in the UAE and his older brother Philip took their wives Pauline and Patricia down memory lane to Nagda, Madhya Pradesh where the two siblings grew up during the dawn of independence. TII interviewed Bob to give our readers a rare glimpse into colonial life in an unknown corner of the Raj. A fascinating story of an enterprising British family in the employ of the Birlas at a time when the Indian business group was well into building its own empire. By Frank Raj TII: Bob, what was the reason for this trip, why is India so special for you? Bob Parker: Well first of all when you are born in a

country and your childhood was spent in that country, the sights, the sounds, the smells are embedded in your blood and therefore India is to me home – not England. I am 69, and whenever I go back to India I feel I am at home. TII: Your father, Bill Parker, left England when he was 20 and stayed back after Indian independence until he was 70; tell us about him

My father Thomas Parker’s middle name was Wilfrid and people thought the W stood for William so they

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ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ

The Parkers original house in Nagda from 1954 is still in good condition Nagda road sign

1971 Nagda railway station no improvement or change

nicknamed him Bill, which is typically what the British do. It’s an interesting story that started with my grandfather on my mother’s side a Mr. Walter Firth. He was the Indian business magnate GD Birla’s textile consultant and GD Birla relied on him for his textile industry. Walter Firth came out of the cotton mills of Yorkshire as a textile expert and worked for the Birlas for many years in India after the First World War as they were building their cotton industry. Born in 1902 in Preston, England, my father went out to India in 1922 as a very young man; he started working in Calcutta where he became the superintendent of the Calcutta Electric Supply. He was much older than my mother, Sylvia Firth whom he met and married in Calcutta. He worked right through the Second World War, keeping the lights on in Calcutta but his newly wedded wife returned to England for the duration.

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TII: How long did your family live in India?

My father was there for almost 50 years. My brother Philip and I were sent home to boarding school in England and would come out to India for the summer holidays from our childhood right through our boarding school years until we were eighteen. Then we went to college in England, my brother went to Cambridge, and I joined the Royal Air Force, so that was the end of our Indian childhood. But my father stayed in India another few years and I was 21 when he retired. TII: You have such positive feelings about India, what was your childhood like during the British Raj?

Philip was born in 1946 and I was born in 1948, both in February and both in Calcutta. So we straddled Partition and Independence. Growing up we didn’t know anything about the Raj, it wasn’t part of our childhood, and we were just children whose parents worked in India.

It wasn’t until we were adolescents that we started to understand what the Raj was about, I guess we were the sort of the remnants of that. TII: You grew up in a very remote part of India

My father moved to Nagda, in the middle of Madhya Pradesh in 1953 and even after the day he left nearly twenty years later, there wasn’t one other European/British person in that colony, he was the only white person there. There were no roads in or out you had to use the train!

After a few years an Anglo Indian Doctor – Prasad – came to Nagda and my Mother insisted that a hospital was built. However, if we were seriously ill, we would have to travel 145 kilometers by train to see a Canadian Doctor – Dr. Mclure at the Mission Hospital in Mhow, near Indore, which used to be the HQ of the 5th Division of the Southern Command during the Raj.


ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ

Main Guest House-Birlasram, Nagda built 1958 still the same

Nagda street where the Parkers lived 1954 -1971

Nagda is 426 miles south of Delhi and 426 miles north-east of Bombay, about 80 miles from Indore. It’s on the River Chambal and other than being on the Western Railway its only claim to fame is that it is the Birla Group’s head office for Gwalior Rayon Silk Manufacturing Company Ltd, Grasim Industries – that’s where it all started. It was an ideal location for the Birlas, undoubtedly helped by the Government of MP, with plentiful supplies of water and a major route centre but in 1950 it was essentially home to the Adivasi people – the Bhils – and the fauna and flora of the jungle scrub of southern Madhya Pradesh. A veritable wilderness for an English Family. TII: How did your father hook up with the Birlas?

After the war it was my grandfather (GD Birla’s Textile Consultant) who got this job for my father with Birla. My father was a

The old pump house on the river Chambal built 1935

power engineer and ostensibly went to Nagda to build a power station and get the electricity going. He was a knowledgeable engineer and rapidly acquired skills in civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering and eventually became the consulting engineer for Birla’s Grasim Industries and the new Pulp Factory in Kerala, reporting to the managing director. TII: So your family’s Raj history is basically in Calcutta.

Yes, they all went out there just after the turn of the century and lived in Calcutta and stayed on after independence because my father had this job as superintendent of Calcutta Electric Supply. After India took over the reins they only kept him for a while so he must have lost the job because the Indian government heaved him out and put an Indian in.

TII: Do you recall by any chance how much they were paying your father?

Oh, I remember entirely –in 1964 my Fathers salary was £5,000 a year, plus the house, servants and flight home – the typical expat package. TII: A sizable sum to retire comfortably in those days?

Well, let me give you an example. My father left Nagda in 1971, when I was a junior officer in the Royal Air Force and my salary was £1,000 a year. So, he was earning £5,000 in 1964, a few years before inflation started taking off in the 70s. In today’s terms it would be north of £100,000 I suppose. Thanks to my mother they retired comfortably. The Birlas didn’t do pensions but my mother was very thrifty and she would take part of the salary and save it. When my parents died, they didn’t leave enormous wealth but they were very comfortable.

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 45


ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ

Parkers with an old friend Dilip Singh of the Kota ruling family

TII: What was the expatriate lifestyle in India like in those days?

Nagda was a very remote part of India, still it was somewhat like the lifestyle you would have found in Dubai in 1970! Ours was a typical expatriate childhood, and for us India was home – you had a gardener, a driver etc., and we took that as the norm. Of course we also grew up seeing the terrible poverty all around us and that is an anchor in my character today, embedded in my mind. But our life was a life of privilege. TII: You remember Nagda as a lovely place growing up.

Absolutely. TII: What was life like in Nagda?

In terms of what we had there, well, we ate chicken every night so it wasn’t as if you had a lot of choice and the chickens were home grown in the garden. You got to know them very well, my Brother and I even gave them names and then you found they were on your plate for dinner. We grew Papaya and Mango in the garden. There were no shops unless you went to the village bazaar. There was no cinema other than a projector and portable screen that was put on the roof of the club

46 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

and it was all Hindi films. That was a lot of fun but there was my brother and myself so our holidays were spent exploring the area and it was a fabulous childhood. I suppose as brothers we were very close, only two years apart, we would go and shoot bows and arrows made by the Bhil tribals we also had air rifles. It was much more fun than living in England at that time. We had bicycles, and there was the jungle to go into, we would go on snake hunts hoping we’d never find one. But we always saw snakes, lots of snakes. I can remember coming home one day and there was a huge king cobra in the front door. We were kept back as the gardener came and took it away. It was about ten feet long; a king cobra can literally“stand up”and look a full-grown person in the eye. I still to this day hate snakes! TII: Were there wild animals like tigers in the area?

No, only wildcats that would eat our chickens and there were rabid dogs. We stayed away from the rabid dogs but no, you didn’t get tigers there. I think they’re further north in Madhya Pradesh. I only remember a person being bitten by a snake and dying. I remember that distinctly because my mother opened a hospital when she came

to Nagda. Imagine 36 years of age, the only Englishwoman, in fact the only white woman in Nagda. She learnt Hindi fluently, far better than my father, his Hindi was terrible. TII: Did you learn Hindi?

Well, as a child, I could sit down and talk to the gardener. I can still count to ten and say a few words. But my mother was absolutely fluent in Hindi. She learnt classical Hindi and she could read and write. She was an intelligent woman and she really took to the fabric of life in Nagda. Sylvia Firth was a woman of the Raj and grew up in that era with a terrific strength about her. She knew her lot, that she had to be with her husband in this godforsaken place so she took to it and told the Birlas she wanted a school and a hospital in Nagda. She went about creating a social fabric that wouldn’t have been there for many years if my mother hadn’t activated it. When we went back and saw it on our trip last year, the school is massive and the hospital is superb. TII: What about your schooling?

My brother Philip and I went to boarding school in England, in Lancashire and we went


Philip with his old friend from his Cambridge University days, Dr Bikash Sinha the eminent Indian Physicist

Philip on the Frontier Mail, not even a bit more comfortable than it used to be - the wives were horrified by the toilets

Elgin Nursing Home where Bob was born

at a very early age, which was also typical of the old Raj. The parents lived in India and sent their kids to schools in England. We would come back every year for eight weeks, until we were 18, so I left India in 1967. TII: Do you remember the food that you used to eat growing up?

Mostly English style food, chicken, roast potatoes, vegetables, but we would eat lots of curry; I probably had curry in my bottle as a baby. I’m an avid eater of curries. Again on this trip it was all curries, but excellent food, excellent, excellent food. I love that kind of food. TII: Not much of a social life would you say?

We had two very good friends, their uncle lived in Nagda and they were the same age as us – Dilip and Ashok Singh of the Kota royal family from Rajasthan. They had an uncle called Narpat Singh who was the head of British Overseas Airways Corporation. Ashok sadly died in a car accident but we met up with Dilip in Delhi last year over dinner, we hadn’t seen him since 1963. He worked in London most of his life, and married an Englishwoman. So there was this interesting juxtaposition of an Indian from a minor ruling

family wanting to probably hang onto Britain but eventually returned to India. TII: When you made your annual trips to India, was it by ship?

No, it was by plane – British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The first journey was by Argonaut which had four propellers and flew at 325 MPH at around 30,000 feet; it would take over 24 hours to get from London to Delhi or Bombay. The journey took us from Delhi to Karachi, drop into Bahrain or Basra and then either Cairo on to Rome and then into London. TII: Do you recall any discussions on what happened in India, the freedom movement and all that?

Well, no, of course that had all happened before my brother and I arrived. Nagda for us was ’55 to ’66 so before that I was an infant and I wouldn’t remember anything related to that. But here’s an interesting observation. For my mother absolutely every person on the planet was an equal. She loved Indians as much as she loved English people and took people at face value. My father never did. He was a product of the Raj and he found it difficult working with Indian managers. Mind you he

Calcutta Post office - Raj architecture

found Americans difficult too! Having said that, he wasn’t racially opposed to them but he was difficult in his relationship with Indians. My father was one of those typical English people who believed England owned India as far as he was concerned. He was quite disparaging, he had this English thing of being superior to his Indian colleagues. My mother never felt that way neither did I. I can remember him telling me off one day for sitting with the gardener and having some of his Tiffin. He was quite a solitary man and he kept very much to himself. TII: So, we’ve got a bit of history. Is there anything we’ve left out that might be interesting?

There are stories of course that have come down to my parents of Calcutta in the days of the Raj. About all the wining and dining at Firpos the famous club in Calcutta where the great and good partied all night in Chowringhee. There’d be stories regaled as we grew up about a very privileged life in those days. As superintendent of the Calcutta Electric Supply, my father did not have a massive job in the Raj but it was big enough. He had a six bedroom detached house with his entourage, so, they were very well looked after. Life there compared to life back in Preston, England

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 47


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where he came from was like chalk and cheese and of course they enjoyed that. As an adult I have always considered it a privilege that I had a childhood spanning UK and India, I regret not getting to know more about India and learning to speak Hindi, even so we grew up with an education that was greatly enhanced by having parents of the Raj. Not just the love for India but the experience and knowledge that was imbued in us as we grew up. TII: Do you remember thinking at any time oh, what a pity we lost India?

Never, no, I never really thought that because I was on the other side of Partition, I grew up with India being India. But I can distinctly remember that the British had an empire and I was a child of that empire, therefore there was a bit of them and us in my mentality. I think it still is with me today, but I am not a person in any way that holds out to be superior. I couch my words because obviously I was taught history from the British side but the British ran a pretty good empire as opposed, in my opinion to the French who colonized very badly. So, I grew up with pride in that empire rather than a mindset of ‘I’ve got to avoid India at all costs because they must hate the living daylights out of me.’ TII: Ever thought how come so few British, managed to control such a huge country?

Winning hearts and minds – I think that’s what it really was. The British are far better at gaining the hearts and minds of people indigenous to whichever country than any other nationality that I know. So, either it was hearts and minds or it was the stick and you either accepted it or didn’t. That’s how the Romans changed Britain too so it is probably our Roman DNA! TII: When you say hearts and minds, what specifically are you referring to?

Britain would come in and envelop whether it was Africa or India or wherever they went. They would win over the people to the society that they were bringing in. So, all of the Indian civil service was Indians, it wasn’t British people. Now okay, they had British managers but they would promote Indians on merit. Nehru went to Cambridge, Gandhi went to University College, London and so did many other Indians – okay, they came from good families but the British won over the Maharajahs. They won them over to their way

50 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

Shopping in a bazaar

of thinking and allowed them to carry on their lifestyle. Mostly, they managed not by brute force and killing people but by absorbing them in the direction they wanted to go. Now in fairness, of course there were times where the British military clapped down very severely, so there was that aspect too. TII: Many Indians would say it was divide and rule

Isn’t that happening in India today? So, where’s the difference? Isn’t that what man does to man, divide and rule throughout? The question for me is do you divide and rule fairly? Was there fairness in the society they created and I think history says yes. I think the British Empire, unless I’ve just read the British account of it, but largely the British are still welcomed, the Commonwealth is still, thanks to the Queen, very much in evidence.

in the world. Indians speak English. There is an English heritage and what did we do? We set our sights on Europe in the late 60s and we tried to become Europeans and now we’re trying to get out of Europe and trying to get back into the Commonwealth. What a tragedy for both countries! But what a legacy we have in the UK, there are now: • Over 10,000 Indian restaurants outnumbering the Chinese! • The Indian food Industry in UK is worth 3.2 Billion GBP, serving 3 million customers a week. • Chicken Tikka Masala is now considered a national dish greater than Fish and Chips! Food aside, I firmly believe the links between our countries run deep and I hope that post Brexit those bonds can grow a new powerful relationship.

TII: How do you think the British failed India?

TII: Do you think England should return the Koh-i-Noor diamond?

After the 50s, we ignored India and we shouldn’t have done, we should’ve stayed. We should be India’s biggest trading partner

Good question India’s Solicitor General last year said no! If India came to England and said this is very serious it is destroy8ing our


ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ

1947, wasn’t it? It was about taking in the sights and sounds of our youth. We should’ve gone in June/July to experience the monsoon as we did when we first arrived in India as boys, but we went in February because of our birthdays. We’re two years apart but mine is on the 18th of February, and Philip’s on the 19th of February so we made sure that we were in Calcutta for our birthdays. TII: What was the worst thing about this down memory lane expedition?

There wasn’t any worst thing! So, it’s going to have to be the worst of the best because from arrival to departure it was just brilliant. Now bear in mind Philip and I have been back to India before so this wasn’t 1966 to 2016. Pauline and I have been in Dubai now 20 years and I’ve tripped into India before on holidays. TII: What was your itinerary like?

Bob with elephants too close for comfort

relationship, then the Koh-i-Noor should be returned to India. Unlike like the Elgin marbles supposedly taken from Greece by Lord Elgin, during the rule of the Ottomans, the Koh-i-Noor was a gift to Queen Victoria by an Indian Maharajah in 1850 and now is in the Crown Jewels. I don’t think India has really stamped its feet as of yet. Look, you go to the British Museum and the artifacts you see there are from all over the world and what do you do? It’s one of the finest museums in the world so is it better to keep it all there where it’s all safe? Are antiquities owned by humanity or territories – a great debate. TII: Let’s talk about your recent trip to India – you went with your wives?

Down memory lane at the Qutb Minar

Yes, Philip, my brother, his wife Patricia, my wife Pauline, we’re all pretty much the same age and it was Philip’s 70th so there was that occasion to it. Because we were both born in Calcutta, the whole idea was to finish the journey on his birthday. Philip was born before Partition; I was born after Partition, which was in August

We flew into Bombay stayed at the iconic Taj Hotel for three days then went to Indore for two days before driving down to Nagda because that’s the closest we could get to Nagda, 80 miles away. In 1955 the first hotel in Bombay I remember staying in was the Taj near the Gateway of India – I still can’t get used to calling it Mumbai hence we chose this to start our journey. The Gateway of India is probably the building that above all epitomizes the Raj (along with Lutyens Delhi). That’s where the British arrived and that’s where they left from. After Nagda we also stayed three days in Delhi and finally made sure we were in Calcutta for our birthdays. So, really, for us it was just a journey to the past, a journey to the remnants of the Raj. TII: What was your reaction when you arrived in Nagda?

When we saw the road signs for Nagda there was a real frisson in my body as we approached the place. Bear in mind, we hadn’t been back there since 1967 so we’re talking 50 years! So, as we got closer and closer, there was this real excitement and then all of a sudden we were in Nagda. I didn’t recognize it until we got through the old town and the colony that the Birlas built, which in our day was called Birlagram, Nagda. Now Birlagram seems to have disappeared, but Birlagram is a closed-in colony so when we arrived, it was gated. You couldn’t drive in unless you were invited.

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 51


ENGLISH DURING THE RAJ

TII: Did the folks who received you know about your father?

Yes, Philip had written to the CEO of GRASIM, S.K.Srivastava, and his team especially his PA, Girish, were exceedingly welcoming, and incredibly yes, they knew of our father. One of the Directors of GRASIM, who knew our Father very well, Mr. Shailendra K. Jain now lives in the house we used to live in and remembered Philip as a young man before he went up to Cambridge. What was interesting is that as we went through that gate, on the left hand side was the head office of Birlagram and it was the same head office, the same building we remembered. It had been extended but we recognized it immediately.

it. The photograph shows us in the dining room, which was the actual dining room of our house – absolutely fantastic! TII: In terms of staying in Nagda, did the wives find the accommodation comfortable?

Yes, the accommodation was great. It really was. It wasn’t Taj standard but it was good guest house standard, air conditioned, private room, shower, en suite bathroom so it was very pleasant. What was very nice of them was that the Sikh chap who took us around, every night he’d open up the liquor cabinet and make sure we had a bottle of Shiraz, Jacobs Creek. Where he got Jacobs Creek Shiraz from, I’ve no idea.

TII: Did you meet anyone who knew your father?

TII: So, the Birlas still have their factory in Nagda?

Our guide for the three days that we were there was a Sikh gentleman who arrived in Nagda as my father was retiring so he knew many stories of my father. Mr. Singh was a lovely guy, a really superb host and for the next three days, we just absorbed returning to our childhood memories. Our servant was a chap called Joseph, whose daughter was Elizabeth and she worked for us as well. Joseph was as excited every year to see us as we were to see him; they were part of the family. Joseph had died though Elizabeth is still alive but we couldn’t find her.

Yes, Gwalior Rayon Silk Manufacturing Company Ltd, Grasim Industries are the largest manufacturers of rayon silk in the world with a market capitalization of Rs. 359 Billion, if they haven’t been superseded by China.

TII: What has remained in Nagda from the time you lived there?

The photograph of the River Chambal with the water pump was again an iconic memory for us and it’s just the same as it was in 1960. So, things like that and of course, the house that we lived in it was still standing but we had moved houses in 1960. My mother wanted a bungalow designed for herself as she said if I’m staying here I’m going to have something that I want to enjoy. So, the chap who was the boss then, a guy called DP Mandelia who worked out of Gwalior agreed to her request. I think my mother had Mandelia twisted round her finger actually. I’m sure he was beguiled by her. She was 36 and an outstanding woman. So, she managed to get her bungalow custom built and we moved from the other house. As it turned out the guest house turned out to be our bungalow! They had just built all around it and that’s why we didn’t recognize

52 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

TII: Fascinating that even during the Raj, people like the Birlas were able to build a business empire.

Indeed, a massive empire, like the Tatas who were bigger than the Birlas. But in our day, the Birlas were the second largest industrial family in India. They were Marwaris and made the bedrock of their fortune in the Opium trade with China that the British wanted to flourish. They then expanded into Jute and Cotton Mills in the early twentieth century, wrestling control from the Scots and gaining massive market share, which is where my grandfather came in. Of course their empire stretched through the Hindustan Times, Hindustan Motors and Hindalco and in modern times the Aditya Birla group are the leading suppliers in cement, supermarkets and life insurance. The Birlas are also terrific philanthropists; I think that’s part of their DNA. TII: How did the wives handle the train journey?

Their enjoyment was through our enjoyment because of course the trip meant nothing to them at all. Okay, so, the final day comes in Nagda, we’ve made some great friends with some great people and it’s time to go. It was an early morning train and two very senior

people in the company came to wave us off with Mr. Singh. It was very, very kind. They didn’t need to but it was delightful and so we get on the train and I’m very excited as the train’s coming in, the Frontier Mail, I can remember the journey, I was determined to stay awake and see every station on the way. TII: What were you expecting?

I thought well, it’s bound to be a bit more comfortable than it used to be and well, we get on and it’s exactly the same, absolutely the same and I think our wives were horrified, absolutely horrified. The toilets are just abysmal, they really are and of course there’s nothing to eat. So, you just sat for 11 hours; I got off at one of the stations to buy samosas but my wife and Philip’s wife refused to eat them. So I had six of them and Philip had three samosas with no side effects at all. But if you want to see India you have to go by train! TII: Your mother had this notion about Indians

My mother used to say if you shake hands with an Indian, count your fingers because they will sell their grandmother. I remember her words. “They will sell their grandmother.” It’s a rather awful legacy. I must say, talking as a financial services businessman today, I do find it very difficult to do business with NRI’s, they love to gain knowledge from us (free of charge of course) and then go and do the business with their cousin brother from their community! So perhaps there is an element of truth in my mother’s words. TII: You’ve seen what Indians have achieved in a place like Dubai, what are your own observations?

The interesting thing is take an Indian out of India and they could win the world or they could control the world through their industry. They are generally very hard working but let’s face it, there 1.3 billion of them. You’re bound to get several hundred million incredibly intelligent Indians out there. If you took ten percent you would have this phenomenal human resource but it could be managed so much better. I don’t know how the politicians rule India. No one has really. Well, the British did for quite a while but has anybody really ruled India well? Frank Raj is TII’s founding editor


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The Top 11

Indian Restaurants in Dubai By Bandana Jain

Dubai is famed for its stunning portfolio of upscale Indian restaurants, probably the best in the world. Expert chefs experiment with newer gastronomic styles, taking their expertise to new levels, lifting the eating out business to greater heights like never before. Combined with vibrant interiors, spectacular views and impeccable service Dubai is home to the most opulent Indian restaurant anywhere on the planet. TII’s Bandana Jain picks the top eleven Indian eating places in the bustling metropolis of Dubai.

Rajesh Lilaramani

Jodhpur Royal Dining Macaron Chaat 54 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

JODHPUR Jodhpur is a nostalgic fine dining Indian restaurant, launched in early 2016 with a promise to bring back childhood memories for its visitors. With the food and beverage industry constantly growing in Dubai, and most Indian restaurants jumping on the contemporary cooking bandwagon, Jodhpur takes the road less travelled. Under the able guidance of talented Executive Chef Pradeep Khullar, Jodhpur recreates some of India’s most beloved dishes with multiple textures and the layering of flavors in the most coherent and clever way. In its cuisine Jodhpur weaves an indelible dining experience for its customers with its retro-innovative concept. The food aims to inspire diners to go beyond the fad of molecular gastronomy and revel in the glorious taste of Indian cuisine classics of bygone days, all with an original and creative twist. Location: Roda Al Murooj Hotel, Downtown Dubai Décor: Jodhpur offers outdoor poolside seating, wonderful in the winter months, as well as an ambient and distinctive Indian-inspired interior for when the temperature rises. There is perfect harmony between its modern Indian cuisine offerings and the luxurious yet understated restaurant decor. Cost for two: Approximately AED 500


THE TOP 11 INDIAN RESTAURANTS

RANG MAHAL

CARNIVAL BY TRESIND

Discover the sensational New India, courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, presenting an exciting menu of modern Indian cuisine into a unique dining concept that appeals to all epicureans – from fine dining connoisseurs to lovers of traditional Indian food. A theatre kitchen showcases the glowing hot tandoor and charcoal grills where each dish is expertly prepared. The Rang Mahal bar is effortlessly cool, with pulsating beats building a unique energy and stylish venue vibe. To reflect the relaxed, lounge atmosphere there is a house DJ spinning Asian and European inspired music. The specifics of the cuisine it caters to are traditional and modern Indian cuisine Location: JW Marriott Private Dining Booth Marquis Hotel Décor: Rang Mahal is a true palace of colour with colossal carved wood columns and stunning wooden screens blending seamlessly with spice inspired colours and tones. Authentic Indian murals signify the restaurant’s native roots of Rajasthan in a chic modern interpretation. Romantic and warm tone lighting creates an atmospheric and relaxing ambience. Cost for two: AED 350 to 400

Catering to the myriad cultures that flaunt the bustling corporate hub of DIFC, Carnival by Tresind is a celebration of Indian food, where it comes of age to shed its glamorous modern avatar, leaping ahead to the postmodern era. Dining at Carnival is a gastronomic fiesta transcending the boundaries of fine dining into a nostalgic culinary experience which evokes childhood memories and takes one back to the days of yore. The idea behind Carnival is to revisit the past and celebrate the timeless recipes that are so intrinsic to India and introduce the world to Indian food beyond the modern era. With one foot set firmly into history and a vision looking straight into the future, the Carnival experience offers a roller coaster ride of emotions with every dish, with something for everyone! Location: Dubai International Finance Centre Décor: Vibrant, Colourful, Modern, Upscale yet casual Cost for two: Approximately AED 500

Lobster Mali Curry

TRESIND

Lamb Chops

Rang Mahal

Trésind is an award winning, progressive fine dining concept that serves an astute translation of authentic Indian cuisine with a modern twist. It is the brainchild of Bhupender Nath, who wanted to revolutionize and redefine the concept of traditional Indian food by introducing never seen before culinary techniques to the world. An avid- traveler and fervent foodie, it was Nath’s dream and passion to start a chain of restaurants. True to his origin, he was always inspired by the exotic flavours of his home country and determined to promote authentic taste and aroma in a revolutionary fine dining experience that would bring a modern twist to traditional styles. With the opening of Trésind in 2014 and its phenomenal success, Bhupender has achieved his goal to make progressive Indian fine-dining more accessible to diners. His modern approach to Indian food is putting him in great demand and making him the ‘face of modern Indian gastronomy’ and ‘elite fine dining’. In less than a span of three years, Tresind has received seven prestigious awards including the Best Indian restaurant for BBC Good Food ME and Best Indian restaurant for Time Out Dubai 2017. Location: Nassima Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road. Décor: Modern, Chic, Fine Dining Cost for two: Approximately AED 500

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 55


ANANTA

ARMANI/AMAL

Ananta is the Signature Indian restaurant at The Oberoi, Dubai. The restaurant captures India’s rich culinary heritage showcasing a variety of authentic gastronomic delights using various cooking techniques with a focus on the live culinary theatre to provide a memorable experience for every guest. The concept of the restaurant and menu entails the Traditional and Post – Modern era of Indian cooking derived from the historical importance and modern culinary approach to the cuisine. Ananta delivers a memorable dining experience with authenticity that is in keeping with The Oberoi Group’s attention to detail. Ananta has been awarded“Best Indian Restaurant – Fine Dining”in the Middle East and awarded“3 Black Hats”by the What’s on Black Hat Guide. Location : Hotel Oberoi, Business Bay Décor : Dramatic with crimson furnishings and crisp white linen tables, the interiors of Ananta are intimate yet sophisticated with contemporary decor and the richness of red tapestries, contrasting with gold and silver finishing and handcrafted mirrors. Cost for two : Approximately AED 500

Armani/Amal is one of the classiest places to savor the true taste of India in an unforgettable setting. It provides a memorable dining experience featuring A-list hospitality with stunning vistas over the Downtown Dubai neighborhood, wherein guests can enjoy the mesmerizing views of the popular Dubai fountain dance from its al fresco terrace. Fresh and innovative regional Indian cuisine is on the menu at Armani/Amal, along with an exciting beverage list and selected teas. Exotic curries and other specialties are prepared tableside, showcasing time- honoured traditional cooking methods and ingredients. At the entrance of this dinner-only restaurant, guests are welcomed by musicians playing live traditional instruments like tabla and sarangi. These live music performances amalgamated with stunning ambience and traditional authentic Indian flavors are the key contributors towards Armani/Amal’s success. Cuisine: Regional and modern Indian cuisine Location: Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa Décor: Armani/Amal has an elegant architectural atmosphere. The floor material comes from Italy’s Ceramica d’Orcia, creamy nice and soft to the eye combined with liquid metal finishing walls Gulab Jamun and Ivory arches. Cost for two: Approximately AED 550

Armani Amal

JUNOON Junoon is a modern Indian Michelin starred restaurant with its roots in New York. Opening its doors to the Middle East market in 2015, Junoon has set high standards of food & service with a strong beverage list. It has changed quite a few negative perceptions about Indian cuisine’s flavor profiles and beverage pairing options. Rated among the best Indian restaurants in Dubai, Junoon has not only provided the city a good selection of Indian dishes and quality service, but a single destination for a memorable dining experience. The concept of Junoon is traditionally flavored Indian food with a modern presentation. The owner of Junoon, Rajesh Bhardwaj, wishes to expand the brand to different regions of the world where Indian cuisine lacks exposure. The success of Junoon in Dubai has been based on the consistency of food and service. In short, it is a complete package of quality food, wide selection of beverage and consistent warm service. Location: Shangri La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road Décor: Modern with use of traditional wood work Cost for two: Approximately AED 500

56 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

Raj Kachori

Armani Amal Terrace


THE TOP 11 INDIAN RESTAURANTS

Naya Team

NAYA Naya is famous for offering the best contemporary North Indian cuisine in the city. The Head Chef Pravish Shetty was plucked by Naya from his previous venture in a top Indian Michelin starrer Chef Vineet Bhatia’s kitchen. Naya was launched in March 2015 as a dark horse amongst 10,000 odd restaurants in the saturated Dubai scene and since then Naya has only marched ahead. Chef Pravish’s creations at Naya caters to all Jumeirah properties guests and is a popular favorite restaurant among

BOMBAY BRASSERIE A vibrant, dramatic and fun restaurant with sumptuous furnishings, Bombay Brasserie is authentic but not traditional. An open theatrical kitchen celebrating three timehonoured cooking traditions: ‘tandoor’ for roasting,‘sigri’ for open grilling and ‘tawa’ for hot searing, allows guests to see food prepared in front of them. Using premium quality and luxury ingredients combined with complex marinades, infused oils and sophisticated spice combinations Bombay Brasserie provides a menu of creative diversifications of old school Indian classics. Bombay Brasserie’s is also proud to offer handcrafted cocktails, boutique spirits and fine wine. Décor: This colourful restaurant and lounge bar is complemented by the relaxed, low level seating in an eclectic mix of styles, alongside bold, oversized artworks on the walls. A feature timber screen creates more secluded dining areas with splendid views of the Burj Khalifa. Location: Hotel Taj Dubai, Business Bay Cost for two: 600 AED

Europeans expats and local Indians and even amongst top Bollywood personalities like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who invariably visits Naya when he is in Dubai. Naya has always been nominated amongst top Indian restaurants category multiple times by What’ On, Time Out Dubai, BBC Good Food Awards and Masala Awards. Location: Jumeirah Beach Hotel Décor: Vibrant and Colorful interiors within luxurious surroundings. Cost for two: Approximately AED 300

Veg Kebab Platter

Dining, Bombay Brasserie

Dining, Bombay Brasserie

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THE TOP 11 INDIAN RESTAURANTS

HANDI Handi Restaurant, which opened in 2001 is the perfect place to feel like a ‘Nawab’ dining on authentic north Indian fare in the elegance of the Mughal period. Handi uses specially mixed ‘masalas’ in its traditional curry dishes, from the different regions of North India, its specialty being the culinary delights of Lucknow. The food here is cooked in handis, tawas or tandoors and consumed with Indian breads like chapattis, rotis, phulkas, naans etc. The restaurant has won several prestigious awards over the years, including ‘Best Indian Cuisine’, ‘Best Indian Restaurant’ and ‘Best Curry’ (Gosht Korma Awadhi) making it the first choice of connoisseurs looking for genuine north Indian fare. Handi’s cozy atmosphere, with melodious live Indian entertainment including Gazals is ideal for a romantic evening for a couple or a relaxing dine-out with family and friends. The clientele varies from GCC nationals, European, Indian community from high-end business clients to family guests. Location: Jood Palace Hotel Décor: Magnificent surroundings recalling the regal elegance of the Mughal period in India with its ornate wooden décor. Cost for two: Approximately AED 300

Veggiebuzz

Asha’s local

ASHA’S

Asha Bhosle Creator of Asha’s Gosht Calicut Biryani

Handi Restaurant at Jood Palace Hotel Deira Dubai

Muscat Gosht

When Asha’s restaurant opened its doors in Wafi City back in 2002, it was with a purpose to share legendary singer Asha Bhosle’s passion for great Northwest Indian food. Since then, several Asha’s restaurants have opened around the world. The popularity and longevity of Asha’s restaurants can be attributed to the Bollywood singing star and namesake, Asha Bhosle, the owner and inspiration behind the restaurant group. Many of the dishes on the menu originate from her own recipes. The popular Muscat Gosht on the menu originated when she stopped for a lunch at a small roadside “dhaba”in Oman and had the most wonderful Karahi Gosht. She came back and cooked the same dish to perfection which is found in the menu as Muscat Gosht. The 84-year-old Asha Bhosle continues to select and grind the spices from Mumbai’s famous souks, distributing her signature masala to all her thirteen restaurants worldwide, bearing her name. Ideal for gatherings with friends, corporate events or special family celebrations, Asha’s is both popular with local residents and tourists alike. With a host of awards like Dubai 2016 Experts’ Choice Award, Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2016, Time Out Restaurant Awards 2012 and Best Indian Ahlan Awards, Asha’s has proven its mettle as one of the finest restaurants in the town. Location: Wafi City Mall Décor: Contemporary decor Cost for two: Approximately 350 AED

Vegetarian Curries

Bhatti Ka Chaap

Bandana Jain is a freelance writer based in Dubai. 58 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017


Indian group in Jerusalem

traveler The great Indian

By Bikram Vohra

There are 102,000 flights a day across the international skies. We’ll leave the cruise ships and trains out of it for a moment. On these flights it is now estimated that as many as 100,000 have an Indian on board. The other 1 per cent probably fly from Alaska to Iceland.

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TRAVEL

T

he 20 million strong battalion of Indians abroad or what is known as the Diaspora are no longer a static lot. The largest such segment in the world was not known for its mobility through the last century. Indians were also not acknowledged as the best of travelers either for business, leisure or adventure. The backpacker, the group discounted tourists, the sports oriented fans were few and scarcely made a contribution to the global movement. But in the past two decades things have changed dramatically. Indians have been spurred towards becoming a major element in across the board tourism. In 2016 Indians entered the Top Ten travel nations in the world for the first time. Although still not always ready to try new things the Indian traveller is a creature of habit and likes to globetrot in a bubble wherein exploration, especially culinary, is in its infancy. As a result, a whole new dimension to travel which one could label ‘Indiancentric’ has come on offer. This desire to stay within familiar bounds has inhibited the Indian traveler and probably also earned him some displeasure since he will steadfastly refuse to experiment, sniffing at fresh cultures and imbibing little of their ambiance, happy to be insulated five thousand miles away from home continuing a facsimile of life while on foreign territory. If there is a transformation of the travel value system it is reflected in two categories. The business traveler who mixes work with leisure and the new young with liquidity, a whole generation of affluent Indians who numerically add up to a significant percentage of upmarket users, whether it is bizz class travel or high end hotel and F and B options exercised with nary a care for the cost. These are the other end of the standard spectrum and are gradually gaining traction with the travel market recognizing them as a very potent force with the potential to rework the future of travel. The number of Indians moving to cruises for example is a clear indicator of the direction the modern Indian is taking in maturing to a worldliness not customarily associated with Indians. The potential is massive. At present only 1% of the Indian population travels abroad. Imagine how much more slack there is to pull in. Indians also make up 200,000 new Indian seniors have money to spend THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 61


entrants to foreign universities and that keeps them on the move. Why has it taken so long for the savers to turn into spenders? For one Indians never really saw romance in travel. For another, the mindset was one which indicated that leaving the shores of the native land was unlucky and not quite done. If they went it was because they were between a rock and a hard place. Throughout history, therefore, the Indian approach to yatra or safar has been markedly ambivalent. It was either to dredge out a living are in response to the crossing of a significant family milestone as in the dutiful presence at a birth, marriage, or death, or to answer the dictates of religion.

Majboori is a blend of commitment, surrender, resignation and unquestioning obedience to the family hierarchy and it dispatched thousands of reluctant Indians as indentured labor (doubled over in the throes of mal de mer) to every corner of the world. Even the migrations within the country were prompted by poverty, the caprice of the weather, natural calamities and exploitation of rural populations. Today, as they stretch their names to echo their surroundings, descendants of that labour force make up a large enough percentage of populations in the Caribbean, in the Orient, in Africa be it Kenya or South Africa and the former British empire in the post WWII years.

Indian seniors often accompany young families

There was little pleasure in what was looked upon as an arduous journey and there was minimal greatness to the Indian traveler for whom the parting and the goodbye was tantamount to a little death. Often or too often the journey was one-way and while seafarers and the more enterprising business communities did create a global Diaspora of the sort never seen before and unlikely to be seen again it was less a sense of adventure and more an obligation born of a Hindi word for which there is no equivalent in the English language – majboori.

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Instead the one sacrificed to the foreign monster was in some ways despoilt and corrupted, no longer pure of body and soul. Of expatriate Indian communities flourishing outside India, the Gulf plays host to perhaps the most mobile Indian contingent in the world. Instant creations spawned by TV and free thought they have propelled the Gulf’s travel potential to a startling Rs.5000 crores per year and rising in 2017 according to sources at the Indian Ministry of Aviation. Indians want to go to Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and Bangkok. Although adventure tourism is not quite their thing, Indians have indicated an up of 54% in their

The intrepid Indian adventurer in Ladakh

And while the new Indian begins to flex muscle the affection for the status quo of nativity manifests itself even today. Travel has been traditionally bleak and fraught with danger. India’s folklore abounds with tales of highwaymen, dacoits, thugs and other such human flotsam waiting to ambush even the wary traveler. The association in the Indian psyche has been largely an unhappy one as if going abroad was in exile and indicative of some shameful failure. Not for us the swashbuckling conqueror reaching foreign shores in a splash of glory. Not many Marco Polos in the making.

holiday travel budgets. A family travelling abroad sets aside roughly $6000 for the vacation which is a hike from 2014 when it hovered around $4000. The tourism industry is gradually getting over its restricted view of Indian travelers as picky and fussy to the point of high exasperation. In an industry that survives on low profit margins and needs feed, Indians are cash cows. As such, incentive schemes, link tickets, tourism promotions and support for ethnic events and cultural and sports programs are now integral to selling travel to Indians reluctant to visit alien lands.


TRAVEL

Very little data exists with either the airlines or Indian travel agents and the tourism outlets, on travel trends. Much of it is a hit and miss approach where one company’s idea becomes the norm for the rest until it exhausts itself. So far, the basic traveling categories remain predictable. There is the school vacation period prompting a temporary migration. The festival search provides regional peaking. The marriage season is reflected in increased economy class uplifts and is followed by a honeymoon sequence. Where Indians are scoring big time is in the MICE sector. Indians love seminars and conferences and corporate conventions and these have become a mandatory market – the

countries. The majority go for business deals and corporate meetings, but a new awareness has come about in the realm of exhibitions and trade fairs, which make for cheerful backdrops for a couple of days off at the end. Their young sons and daughters who obtain educational access to the West form a small but very high-profile group. They travel and also encourage movement to their institutions for passing out ceremonies and other important fixtures. It is this group and also the richer independent businessman, for whose clientele, airlines package their first and executive class of air travel. Until very recently, Indians did not plan their itineraries but that class of traveler is rising.

Indian travelers rate high on good hotels and eating at high-priced restaurants. They hit lows on hiring cars, caravans, camping out and joining tour groups. Does the Indian traveler travel well? Still largely disorganized in his paperwork and planning, his virtue lies in his patience, and delays and confusions are accepted but stoic humor. The obtaining of visas is not always easy but tour groups are navigating these waters and group tours are well handled and reasonably priced if you don’t mind sharing a room. The travel sector sees him as a Spartan guest, unlikely to tip heavily, even less likely to hire expensive rooms, generally polite and accommodating, honest, a bit confused

Safaris are a big hit for affluent travellers

“business cum break”concept, which is fast catching on in professional cadres. Conferences, conventions and seminars linked to the new corporate philosophies of recharging executive batteries are the basis of the new thrust. On a wider scale there is Europe and Britain with an option to go across the Atlantic. Even in expat land, Indians form the single largest group of applicants for visas to Britain and the United States. Not more than 25 percent get that magic multiple entry but again, in the numbers game, it amounts to quite a lot. Estimates are inexact but over 400,000 Indians travel westwards each year from the Gulf

Professional holiday planners, who ranked Indians as very poor also also-rans in adventure holidays, are noticing a mild upturn. It is no longer surprising for Indians to go on a safari to Africa. By that very token Indians still harbour great affection for the Bond Street and Oxford Street splurge and that is another favorite destination. Hong Kong and Singapore balance it out on the east and Kowloon and Orchard Road abound with Gulf Indians. Indians love to shop but are equally now finding themselves at home atop the Japanese hotel at the base of Mount Everest, skiing at Gstaad and blackjacking in Monte Carlo.

if the language is not English, ready to help fellow passengers, very trusting of strangers and inclined to confide in such aliens in his eagerness to be accepted. He is least likely to steal towels from a hotel room and that is seen as a global testimony of honesty by the international hotel trade. This might sound rude and patronizing, but the profile does generally reflect the average Indian traveler and also underscores our preoccupation with expenses. Indians in Europe on bed-and-breakfast rates, will tank up on the freebie breakfast

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TRAVEL

Family travel is a joy for most Indians

and be quite cheerful about the cleverness of their strategy. Napoleon once said of China,“Let her sleep for once she wakes her roar will shake the world.” The average travel expert can probably say: ‘Awaken the sleeping Indian and put him on a plane for once he begins to move, he will truly shake the travel industry.’ THE INDIAN LABOURER MAKES IT FLY The Indian laborer who constitutes nearly 65% of the GCC uplift is not a candidate for the title of the ‘Great Indian Traveler.’Actually his claim to the title is not without merit. He maintains at least six airlines in the black and ensures a livelihood for several dozen GSA’s and over 200 travel agents and is responsible for the dramatic growth of the regions aviation potential. Without the Indian laborer and his movements that page of aviation lore would have been differently written. As a passenger he wants very little in return for the passage he pays for and is often given short shrift. His once in two years odyssey home to marry, see child for first time, get sister married and find a wife for himself are not unfortunately the stuff of which travel dreams are made and he does not adorn any posters. But he is as much a savior as he is a traveler. That said it is a sobering part that this percentage of the uplift between the Gulf and Middle East’s 16 country network and

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India could die away and leave a huge vacuum. Of the 2.265 million Indians in the GCC enclave nearly as many as 80% fall into the biannual travellers category, returning on home leave or seeking their fortune for the first time. Where the travel syndrome really gets into perspective is in the potential. There is an availability of 4.2 million seats to India from the Middle East through all carriers and only 1.3 million are utilized. The average annual flying rate for Indians is 0.6 (point six) trips per person to the home country. The statistics are apt to mislead since they ignore those who traveled by sea and those who just do not go home. On the top side of the scale, there is a core group that makes between 4 to 8 roundtrips per year and probably does form the nucleus of the travel revolution expected between now and 2004, which is the first 10 years of the 20 year period in which the world will purchase 13,250 new aircraft at a cost of $1.1 trillion. The Middle East and Gulf follow China and the Pacific Rim with the predicted 5 percent growth per annum and the Indian expat forms a sizable percentage of that upsurge. For a great writer and former editor of Indian Express, Gulf News, Khaleej Times, Bahrain Tribune, City Times and a columnist with Times of India, Bikram Vohra delays on deadlines, which he cheerfully admits is frightful!

NRI TRAVELERS TO INDIA: A PROFILE AND PERSPECTIVE For ‘Incredible !ndia,’ the Indian origin non resident travelers are a very strong and large catchment of prospective tourists, who could be motivated to invest their holiday travel plans to India rather than other destinations, says Sanjay Basu, CEO of India based Far Horizons and Adventure Resort Cruises. Sanjay Basu “If non resident Indian origin people are first generation, there is a tremendous amount of emotive involvement if not, actual roots in the birth country due to parents and extended family still being present there. This is a market base that will come to India as their heartstrings will pull them to the mother country. “However, what Incredible !ndia needs to do is to draw to itself the second, third and further generations of Indian origin travelers too. This is a catchment market of prospective travelers to India who might no longer have as strong a pull of the heartstrings, as they have become culturally and socially much more integrated into the country of residence, rather than the country of origin. “For this, Indian tourism ministry and industry needs to hold extensive roadshows in major tourism generating countries with large Indian origin populations. Indian cultural, food, tourism events and extravaganzas need to be held at their doorsteps that excites their imagination. This would lead them to develop a greater amount of curiosity to rediscover their partially or, completely forgotten roots.” Basu is convinced that for the Indian tourism ministry, this is a relatively low hanging fruit. While events like the Parvarsi Bharat (non resident Indian cultural events) held in India serves the purpose of attracting mainly the first generation, non resident Indian origin people. The focus needs to shift to a larger market base to attract the second or, more generation of non resident Indians, and Pravasi Bharat type of events must be taken out of India as road shows. “This can excite the dormant potential love for a long forgotten motherland, and lead to an immediate jump of over 2-3 million tourist arrivals to India, in a very short span of time from North America, Europe, Austral-Asian, Middle Eastern and South African regions. There we need to showcase the entire gamut of attractions in India from its great monuments, cultural, natural, adventures, cruises, cuisines, as the one of the greatest tourist destinations of the world.”


Polar Bears and Tundra Buggy -photo by Robert R Taylor

Go on a Polar Bear adventure holiday in Churchill, Canada For wildlife enthusiasts there is a lifetime experience probably unequalled anywhere else in the world – Churchill, Manitoba in Canada, where Polar bears are the main attraction, and about a thousand of these superb beasts gather each year. By Frank Raj

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T

he best time to go is from July to November, when about one thousand bears migrate to Churchill, which has been nicknamed the“Polar Bear Capital of the World.”Here to spend the summer and await winter, the planet’s largest land carnivores wait for the bay to freeze so they can perch on the ice and hunt for their favorite food – ringed seals. After November, the bears are more likely to remain on the frozen bay to hunt. Churchill is a major tourist destination during bear season, and you need to book a trip well in advance. Thousands of migrating beluga whales also arrive in to the town’s coast, which is another great reason to go to Churchill. Belugas are the only whales with a flexible neck. Unlike other whales, the beluga’s seven neck vertebrae aren’t fused, making it possible for a beluga to nod and turn its head. Beluga whales cannot be seen anywhere else in the world like you can see and have interactions with them in Churchill. Literally thousands of beluga whales are to be found in the estuary. Migrating there after wintering in the high Arctic, the Beluga whales outnumber Churchill’s human population of only about 1,000 by three to one. The sheer wealth of wildlife overwhelming – if Churchill isn’t on your ‘bucket list’ it should be.

Hudson Bay Coast Hike -photo by Eric Lindberg


ADVENTURE HOLIDAY

Dogsledding - photo by Frontiers North

Mother & Cub by Bob Debets

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Safe Buggy by Bob Debets

TOURS Three companies offer polar bear tours in Churchill: ‘Frontiers North Adventures’ (https://frontiersnorth.com ) and ‘Great White Bear Tours’ (greatwhitebeartours.com) and Tundra Buggy Adventures (tundrabuggy. com). Frontiers North Adventures is a family business that has been operating in Canada’s north for three decades, delivering unique itineraries and experiences to travelers from around the world. Their programs are designed for small groups with specific interests in experiential travel, photography, wildlife, culture and adventure. The companies use tundra buggies, which look like large Land Rovers, which are designed to keep passengers safe with grated

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viewing decks and windows. These custombuilt tundra vehicles shepherd visitors (safely) into the path of migrating polar bears. The tours travel into the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, which is the best place to see the bears in their natural environment. The area is also home to arctic foxes, beluga whales and arctic hare. More adventurous tourists can take a hiking tour through the area with Polar Bear Alley Expeditions (polarbearalley.com) – don’t worry too much, they use trained guides who carry shotguns!

Is it Really Safe? Occasionally polar bears do enter the town, and people are advised to familiarize themselves with polar bear safety in case

of an encounter. Polar bears are carnivores and they are less afraid of humans and more likely to get used to people than other bears. Aggressive, curious, and extremely dangerous to humans, they have been known to track people when hungry, and will outright charge and attack even if a person is clearly not a threat and giving the bear a wide girth. With a highly acute sense of smell, they are also skilled hunters that can pick up a scent from over 30 kilometres away, and can detect the presence of seals under three feet of snow and ice. Polar bears have no natural enemies and consequently no fear. CXalled “Lords of the Arctic”, these spectacular animals are huge. Male polar bears can grow to more than 600 kg (1,320


ADVENTURE HOLIDAY

in town is within walking distance and, depending on the season, you’re going to encounter dirt, mud, slush, ice, or snow. Where to Stay: Come polar bear season, and Churchill’s hotels book up fast so reserve months ahead. The accommodation is basic but centrally located, often with Wi-Fi and in-house restaurants. Aurora Inn, Lazy Bear Lodge, Tundra Inn, and Seaport Hotel are some good options. If the town is too urban for you, consider Churchill Wild, which offers polar bear walks at their three remote eco lodges. The Tundra Buggy Lodge hosts guests in two sleeper cars deep in the tundra, right in bear country for those who can’t get enough. The customized 330-foot-long, elevated lodge has open decks, serves locally sourced dishes in its restaurant, and holds nightly talks by bear experts. What to Eat or Drink: Churchill’ is relatively isolated, but dining options will satisfy most visitors. Restaurants attached to Seaport Hotel and Tundra Inn serve pub fare, while Lazy Bear Lodge’s menu features regional dishes, including elk and Arctic char. At Gypsy’s Bakery and Restaurant, the Da Silva family has sold fresh-baked Portuguese bread rolls (papa secos), pierogies, and regional specialties like Manitoba pickerel for 25 years. They will even pack box meals for your outdoor adventures. What to Buy: Churchill offers outstanding Inuit art gathered from top northern artists around the country beyond Tundra Buggy and Polar Bears - Photo by Robert R Taylor the obligatory polar bear and beluga whale souvenirs. For these and other northern products, checkout stores like the Arctic Churchill’s summer season begins in early Trading Company and Fifty Eight North. July and can run into early September, What to Read Before You Go: The World during which beluga whales show up by of the Polar Bear (Firefly Books, 2010). This the thousands in the Churchill River estuary updated third edition of renowned nature during long days of sunshine. Sighting of photographer Norbert Rosing’s intimate, polar bears walking along the coastline season-by-season portrayal of Canada’s or swimming in the Hudson Bay are also iconic and endangered bear and its changing common in the summer. habitat combines stunning, full-page How to Get Around: In winter, the best photography with personal insights. To way to see polar bears is by tundra vehicle order online, and to get the latest, most tours offered by operators like Frontiers comprehensive selection of books for North Adventures and Great White Bear Tours. In summer, travelers can do something your voyage, go directly to http://reading. longitudebooks.com/NH21489. quite memorable – snorkel with the beluga whales or view the polar bears by boat. Helpful Links: http://everythingchurchill.com Waterproof hiking boots are required regardless of when you visit. Going anywhere Frank Raj is the founding editor of TII. train or plane to see the polar bears – the area’s most famous seasonal residents. Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport has daily flights on two airlines – Calm Air and Kivalliq Air -- and train service is available from Winnipeg’s Union Station through Via Rail. The flight to Churchill takes about two hours, and the train trip takes about 48 hours. When to Go: Climate change is altering the seasons in Churchill and animal migrations are changing too. The preferred time of the year to see the polar bears is from the middle of October to the end of November. According to the conservation group Polar Bears International, the worldwide polar bear population is between 20,000 and 25,000, as of 2008. Churchill attracts more than 12,000 visitors during polar bear season. If you want to go at the busy time of year, reservations in advance are a must, for many services quickly become fully booked.

lbs) and stand 3.05 metres (10 feet) tall. But don’t let their massive size fool you – these white bears can move with surprising speed and agility. Each year, the bears’ natural northward progression leads many of them to and through town! To manage this unique challenge, Churchill has developed the Polar Bear Alert program. With over several thousand bears handled, the Polar Bear Alert program has worked very effectively at managing the human-bear overlap.

How to Go: There are no paved roads that will take you directly into the tiny town of Churchill, for it is located on the remote, southwestern shores of Hudson Bay. One has to arrive by

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GREATS OF BOLLYWOOD

i Film s have made the Hind ind m d an s nd ha of s ly While there thousand their craft, who are tru of rs te as m w fe e th rates Bollywood. Industry great, TII celeb der machine we call on w is th ed ap sh ve great and ha

Great Stars, Directors, Films and Storytellers “It is the intermingling of both colour and fragrance that makes a garden beautiful, what am I if it’s only me, what are you if it’s only you?” By Sumit Panwar This statement may hold true for every industry that breathes or any structure that stands, but nowhere else is it celebrated more romantically than Bollywood. The Hindi film industry has reached phenomenal heights today, and is one of the largest film industries in the world. From India’s first film Raja Harishchandra in 1913 to the present, the second oldest film industry of the world, has mastered the art of mixing powerful storytelling with entertaining viewing, and the knowledge that cinema is meant for everyone. surpassed. Muhammad Yusuf Khan or Dilip Kumar as he was known acted with a charm that comes natural only to the most gifted actors. His dialogue delivery and distinct style of portraying even the simplest of characters is envied and sometimes imitated by actors even today. No other actor has won more Filmfare Best Actor awards than him (eight awards, tied with Shahrukh Khan), which is a testimony of his impact on the acting fraternity. With

Dilip Kumar

Great Stars Dilip Kumar - He is the man who gave life to some of the most iconic characters of Hindi cinema, delivered some of the most iconic dialogues and set a benchmark for actors so high, that it is yet to be

74 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

Amitabh Bachchan

iconic films like Mughal-e-Azam, Devdas, Naya Daur, and Shakti, the first superstar of Bollywood, Dilip Kumar has left an indelible mark on Bollywood’s hall of fame. Amitabh Bachchan - No matter how many awards you have won, no matter how many films you have done, the amount of money you’ve made or how strong or tall you are, in Bollywood, you can never be taller than Amitabh Bachchan. This is one


Aamir Khan

name that will be the face of Bollywood for the foreseeable future and will stay for at least another century. When this lean, awkwardly tall actor entered the industry, nobody would’ve imagined that one day he would be the Shahenshah of Bollywood. Amitabh has influenced generations in India to take up acting and still continues to do so. The industry’s original and the only true angry young man, he truly enhanced the concept of ‘Hero’ in the industry. Here was a man who could love, fight, make you laugh, make you cry and look dapper while doing so. He has dominated India’s screen space for 48 years, won 4 National Awards, 15 Filmfare Awards and almost all the top honours an Indian can receive. But it is not about awards, it is the concept of ‘Amitabh Bachchan’, the phenomenon that this one man industry is, that makes him one of the magnificent greats. Aamir Khan - There is legend about a king who turned everything he touched into gold; for Indian Bollywood fans it seems he was reborn as Aamir Khan. Whatever project he takes up, he somehow turns it into either something special or a fortune and he never fails. Out of the fabled ‘Three Khans’ of Bollywood, Aamir is the least flamboyant, is an introvert, has possibly the smallest fan following,

least number of films, but still has made the biggest impression. His choice of films, his dedication towards his craft, his keen involvement in every aspect of filmmaking and even selling, driven by sheer chutzpah has pushed him into the realm of greatness. His greatest achievement lies in the fact that he has always been a part of great cinema, always raising the standard of filmmaking in Bollywood, while still making it so much richer. No other leading actor has given more highest grossing films than Aamir. He has won 4 National Awards, 8 Filmfare Awards and on top of that he has been at the helm of iconic films like Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots, and Dangal, all path breaking films. It is just too difficult to beat the perfectionist Aamir Khan at his game, and he still has a long way to go.

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GREATS OF BOLLYWOOD

those subtle emotions that are a part of our ordinary lives and still keep the audience glued to the screen. He proved that you don’t need big sets, fancy locations or bags of money to make a good Bollywood film, and that is the legacy of Hrishi Da. He could make you cry with Anand, teach the complexities of love with Abhimaan, and make you laugh with Golmaal. Now that, only a master can do.

r

Raj Kapoo

ctors Great Dire Raj Kapoor – Ranbir Raj Kapoor, son of Prithvi Raj Kapoor and the godfather of Indian cinema. He was hailed as the Greatest Showman of Indian Cinema at an age of just 24 and nobody has dared to challenge that title since. It wouldn’t be wrong to call him the most complete filmmaker to have ever graced the industry. His unabashed romance with cinema delivered some of the greatest pieces of cinematic works, which left everyone around him in awe. His greatest strength was pulling out the best from everyone. Actors, Writers, Musicians, and Singers drew strength from him and were inspired by his passion for films. The world knows him as the Charlie Chaplin of India for his on-screen portrayal of the tramp. But it was his understanding of cinema and no holds barred depiction of characters’ life story that made him such a powerful director. In his illustrious career he created films like Barsaat, Awaara, Shree 420, Sangam, Mera

Naam Joker and Prem Rog. In his 40 year long career as a filmmaker, he won several awards, national honours, global accolades, but his greatest contribution towards Indian cinema would be his legacy, that would inspire generations to come. Hrishikesh Mukherjee – Films are usually called ‘illusions’ and filmmakers yearn to create magic on screen. Hrishi Da didn’t do that. He was not a magician, he was just a storyteller, who took stories from the real world, and told them in his own, effortless way. Hrishikesh Mukherjee is considered the pioneer of the ‘Middle Cinema’, a genre of films that acted as a link between the magnetism of the main stream cinema and the realism of art cinema. It is relatively easy to take extraordinary characters and create stories around extreme, raw emotions. But you need to be a true master to take ordinary characters and make a story around those little moments,

Yash Chopra – It was every actor’s dream to be a part of a Yash Chopra film. Because when you are working with the King of Romance, you know that he will make you look all the more beautiful, each dialogue you speak will be a poem, each frame you are part of will be a painting and after the film is done, you will be a superstar. No other filmmaker in the history of Indian cinema portrayed love the way Yash Chopra did. He made this simple human emotion into a grand affair, which governs the world around. He made the audience fall in love with love, over and over again. It was his films that gave Bollywood’s biggest stars, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan the ladder to superstardom. He not only inspired thousands of aspiring filmmakers, he gave them a dream and helped fulfil it too. Such was the impact of Yash Chopra’s cinema that countries where he shot his films, saw an increase in tourism. He introduced an entire sub-continent to a whole new world. Through a vast genre of films from Dhool ka Phool, Deewaar, Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, Silsila, Lamhe and Dil To Pagal Hai, Yash Ji proved that his taste for brilliance in cinema, ear for melodies and an eye for talent was second to none. The accolades he received, highest national and international honours bestowed upon him, may never be enough to justify the idea of Yash Chopra. He was an industry in himself.

Yash Chopra

Hrishikesh Mukherjee

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GREATS OF BOLLYWOOD

s

Great Film

Pyaasa - An upcoming, potentially brilliant poet in the post-independence India, struggles to make his place in society, yearns for support, acceptance, and love, but is denied. He witnesses nothing but dejection and rejection, from a society that he realizes is ridden with a diseased culture of bigotry, deception, greed, and blind idolatry. He ultimately realizes this world is not for him, he shall create a different world for himself, with someone who yearns for what he does. Guru Dutt borrowed from Christ’s persecution and resurrection, and presented the world with all its defects and how it forces one to be a product of the world and not of one’s dreams. It was made in 1957 and 60 years later, it is still that relevant. The brilliant filmmaking of Guru Dutt, his perfect portrayal of the protagonist, the innocence of Wahida Rehman, the poems of Sahir Ludhianvi, the voice of Mohammed Rafi, and the cinematography of VK Murthy, made the film a fantastic illusion, every filmmaker dreams of creating. One of the greatest films ever made, and not just in Bollywood. Sholay - Somewhere in a small village of India, an honest cop loses his family at the hands of a black hearted, evil personified dacoit. The cop then hires two strong, notorious, but good hearted gun slingers to exact revenge, capture the dacoit and bring peace to his village and his burning soul. The setting is rustic, the feel is western, there is a beautiful girl, sometimes in distress, there are guns, deaths, dance, drama, romance, comedy, tragedy and action, all wrapped in a package that literally embodies all that is Bollywood. Sholay is simply Bollywood with all its honesty. This film was meant to shock, inspire, and entertain and that’s exactly what it did and still does. The combination of a stellar star cast, a director who had tasted success and the most legendary writer duo in Bollywood, turned Sholay into a formula that filmmakers would try to repeat for decades. But Sholay could never be made again. It sits on the top of the Bollywood tree, inspiring filmmakers and reminding them of the true spirit of this colorful industry.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge The greatest tales of love have all been tragic. Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnu, Paris and Helena, and Mark Antony and Cleopatra, all ended in death, separation. If only they had met Aditya Chopra, their story would have been different and much more fulfilling. In his very first film, Aditya Chopra, son of the great Yash Chopra, created a masterpiece, a love story that would become a young nation’s dream. The story of Raj and Simran, two people, with different backgrounds. The perfect boy, with all his perfect imperfections. Shah Rukh Khan is flamboyant, charming, kind, spoilt, respectful, hilarious, and honest. His true love kajol is a traditional ‘Indian’ girl, not necessarily the prettiest, but submissive, shy, sheltered, but she wants to break free and live. She dreams about a prince charming and they meet, and fall in love, but typically as it happens so often in India the girl has to obey her parents and get married to someone else. Our hero tracks her down, gatecrashes her wedding, enchants her entire family, gets thrashed, and in the end wins and takes the girl. This movie became every young lover’s dream. People started to believe that love eventually wins, all you have to do is really try. This film must have inspired thousands of true love stories, some might have lost and some would have won. But DDLJ said, ‘Come Fall in Love’ and they did.

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Developing the Next-Gen Business School Leaders

Dr. Dhrupad Mathur Associate Professor - IT Management and Astt. Dean - Executive MBA SP Jain School of Global Management, Dubai UAE

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discourse on Business School leadership is so very relevant and contemporary in the context of today’s environment that there cannot be any other suitable time in the near future to wait for it. Business Schools globally have served as perpetual source of trained corporate manpower. Most prominent multinational corporations globally look upto various B-schools for hiring personnel across various functional areas. Over the last few decades B-schools have developed massive intellectual property which has in turn helped them in catering to the dynamic knowledge and skill requirements of the corporate sector. Typically, some B-schools have a more academic inclination with research capabilities while some are more pro-corporate or inclined towards influencing the practice. One key tenet of the business education offered by the global B-schools is the relevance of their

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curriculum to make the graduates ‘industry ready’. However, during the last few years the global business environment has been changing rapidly and this clearly translates into the need of much dynamic skill and capability requirements from the corporate world. Hence the B-schools need to gear up and the school leaders therefore play a key role in ensuring that the business education of future is not ‘out of context’. Generally, because of technological advancements and rapid proliferation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) today we see a whole range of new dimensions emerging and impacting the business landscape everywhere. This phenomenon is now giving a very different context to the most desired skills areas such as Strategic thinking, Creative Problem solving, Leadership, Collaboration, Communication, Analytical thinking and so on. Therefore, for a

B-school, in order to be relevant to the needs of future it is important to be forward looking, agile and pro-active. And all this can be achieved only through a capable leadership. The challenges of the coming decades will necessitate business programs to be run by well-rounded and proven professionals with substantial business acumen along with the academic background. The task ahead during the next two decades in front of B-schools would be steep enough while trying not only to preserve their relevance but also to provide directions for the corporate thought leadership. Hence the qualities of successful Business school leaders of tomorrow will be unprecedented and unparalleled to what we might have seen till today. Some of the most important attributes are explained below: Visionary: Yes, this a hyped word but envisioning would be the first key quality required to be a business school leader of future. One has to make meaning out of the diverse pieces of global issues, developments and phenomena across various business ecosystems and envision


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how business education can help develop competencies to manage those. This will need looking at newer skill sets at strategic as well as operational or technical levels and imbibe them in the new programs to create the managers for tomorrow. So much is the diversity and specificity in the emerging skill requirements that today we see a range of experiments or initiatives across the business as well as engineering education to possibly address such requirements. For example, companies like IBM, SAP, Microsoft etc. have university alliances to promote specific skills while others like Oracle, GE etc. have ended up creating their own university like setups. Clearly, it’s a two-way process where the academia and the corporate sector have to collaborate and focus together. However, this time the first move has to come from the academia. Technology strategist: Though this is perhaps too much to expect from a business school leader but such are the pressures of business and education environment dynamics today that the future business

school leaders will not only have to be techsavvy but are also expected be ‘technology strategist’ as they will have to constantly ponder on new ways of how ICT can be leveraged to create new educational experience and products. Also, how to offer the existing education through omni channel mode and at the same time retain the leadership position in the education space. A lot is happening in the education space wherein the new technology platforms are creating disruption. For example, today it is possible to attend courses delivered by the notable professors of Harvard and MIT while sitting at home via online open courses and most of such resources are free! At the same time the preference and behaviour of learners is also changing with more immersive experiences including business simulations, gamification, learning management systems, anytime learning through mobile applications or video conferencing systems etc. The new business education leader has to tame all that and create education offerings to deliver a world-class experience.

Thinking global: A large number of corporations today operate across multiple countries and require managers that can lead operations from any corner of the globe. Moreover, the business growth and opportunities necessitate that the business managers have a global interoperability. Therefore, business school leaders will also have to think global in terms of imparting such requisite skills. Further, collaboration is the key and business schools will increasingly find themselves working with or collaborating with entities from other countries; and program delivery will require aggregation of global knowledge resources virtually through electronic media. The next generation of business school leaders may have to deal with the business education entities that would be very different from the well-known brick-and-mortar setups. This difference would be in the overall organizational capabilities, resources, size, access to information assets, outreach to global audience and learners, technology infrastructure, collaborations, development of intellectual property etc. So, now comes the most significant question about how to develop such leaders and academic administrators within the business schools? At every level - school level, at program level or campus level such leadership development would be essential because systemic transformations and ICT enablement are not generally successful as top-down only approach initiatives. Hence while the leadership development at every level is important, the challenge is that those academic administrators who come with an old-school philosophy fail to recognize the potential that the new age technology can bring to the business education. So, in order to survive and sustain in the next few decades the business school leaders will have to be futuristic and forward looking; and rather than waiting for the waves of environment turbulence to hit them, be pro-active to embrace change. In a nutshell, the next-gen business school leaders would most likely need competencies even higher than those of senior industry professionals in order to deal with the echelon that lies ahead of us. The doctrines of academic leadership in business education would change to create a better value preposition for the industry, the learners and the schools. Only the fittest will survive.

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GREATS OF BOLLYWOOD

an association with Raj Kapoor and wrote Awaara, Shri 420, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby and Henna. The fact that K.A. Abbas is known as one of the pioneers of the Indian parallel cinema, proves how deep his pen’s impressions are on the most glorious chapter of Hindi cinema.

n

Salim Kha

tellers

Great Story

Salim-Javed - Two men, struggling to find a foothold in the industry, Salim Khan as an actor and Javed Akhtar as a small time dialogue writer, met on a film set and decided to leave behind their ongoing struggles and team up for something bigger. The rest as they say is history. They developed a strong bond and a professional chemistry that lasted for 16 years and produced some of the most celebrated films of all time. It was the first time that such an association had been formed and they went on to write for 24 films, of which 20 were great successes. They reached a point when refusing a Salim-Javed film had become impossible, even for stars. Before they came along, writers were a forgotten lot. They wouldn’t receive credits on the posters or any praise from the general audience. But Salim-Javed made sure that they become a household name and even receive a portion

KA Abbas

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of profit from their films. Although, they went through a bitter split after years of friendship, while they were a team, they produced works like Sholay, Zanjeer, Seeta aur Geeta, Deewaar, Trishul, Don and Shakti. The first writing superstars, SalimJaved paved way for a more confident and imaginative breed of writers. Khwaja Ahmad Abbas - Born to a student of Mirza Ghalib, it would be fair to say that writing came naturally to K.A. Abbas. A graduate in English, Abbas started his career as a journalist and went on to write one of the longest running newspaper columns of all time. It was in 1941 that his film career really started when he sold his screenplay Naya Sansar. In a few years he was working with the likes of Chetan Anand and V. Shantaram, and co-wrote Neecha Nagar, the only Indian film to have won the Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Festival. It is hard to keep such a prolific writer away from the industry’s heart and soon he began

Gulzar

Gulzar - Writer, lyricist and director, Sampoorna Singh Kalra or Gulzar is known for films that are sensitive, lyrical and yet very successful. They were a welcome relief from the violent films that filled the 1970s and 80s. Starting as Bimal Roy’s full time Assistant, he became one of the finest screenwriters and lyricists of Hindi films, with a long list of memorable movies Anand, Mere Apne, Guddi, Koshish, Parichay, Namak Haram, Khushboo, Chupke Chupke, Aandhi, Mausam, Angoor, Masoom, Ijaazat, Rudaali, Maachis and Saathia. No one else portrays the complexity of relationships better than Gulzar. His understanding of each human emotion and his ability to project them in the simplest, yet poetic form is masterful. He is unrivalled as a lyricist, having won more than 11 Filmfare Awards, 2 National Awards Grammy and Oscar for the same, but his Scripts, Dialogues and Story are equally brilliant, and absolutely relevant, for they mirror our lives and deepest emotions. And that is what good cinema is all about. For that, Gulzar was won six Filmfare award, three National Awards and a million more in our hearts.

Sumit Panwar is a freelance writer based in Mumbai.


IBPC

New IBPC Board Announces Plans to Help Boost India-UAE Strategic Relations IBPC announces line-up of year-long events and plans to offer strategic advisory to investors and stakeholders to help strengthen bilateral relations between India and the UAE as new Board takes charge following unanimous election of the Office Bearers

From Left: Vimitha Deepak-CEO, Nimish Makvana-board member, GR Mehta-board member, Monika Agarwal-board member, Bindu Suresh Chettur-president, Smita Prabhakar-secretary general, Hemant Jethwani-vice president, Janak Panjuani-treasurer.

IBPC will increase the number of events to promote India-UAE relations in the UAE As UAE-India relations reach a strategic level, following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the UAE in 2015 and the historic visit by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to India as the Chief Guest on India’s Republic Day in 2017 The UAE is investing Dh275 billion (US$75 billion) into Indian economy that will help the country to accelerate its economic growth Indian business & professional community created a history by electing a woman President and a woman Secretary-General

For Immediate Release Date: Dubai, Monday, April 10, 2017 In view of the growing strategic and strong bilateral relations between India and the UAE, the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) – the largest business group in the UAE – announces a strong line-up of

events for 2017-18 that will help strengthen two-way investment and trade between India and the UAE as the newly-elected Administrative Board takes office. On March 25, the members of the IBPC had elected a new Administrative Board who then unanimously elected the Office Bearers with Ms Bindu Suresh Chettur becoming the first woman President and Ms Smita Prabhakar as the first woman Secretary General, Mr Hemant Jethwani as the Vice President and Mr. Janak Panjuani as the Treasurer to lead the organization. Others elected to the nine-member Administrative board include; Mr. G.R. Mehta Mr. James Mathew Mr. Kulwant Singh Ms. Monika Agarwal Mr. Nimish Makvana “We have been elected to lead the IBPC at a very significant juncture of the bilateral relations between India and the UAE when both the countries are becoming strategic development partners in their journey,”Bindu

Suresh Chettur, President of IBPC, says. “Accordingly, the role of the IBPC will also have to be re-defined to help strengthen the strategic direction. In the next few months, we will be undertaking a number of new initiatives to elevate IBPC to a new role to support the new environment of stronger economic cooperation. “There are lots of investors in the GCC who are looking at the new economic opportunities in India – but do not know how to approach and who to talk to. Now IBPC will play a role to help these investors to find the right partner and look at the right industry to achieve a faster and higher return on investment.” The IBPC election comes two months after the UAE signed a series of agreements in New Delhi during the historic visit by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to India as the Chief Guest on India’s Republic Day. At the height, bilateral trade between India and the UAE reached $75 billion in 2013-14. The two countries signed 14 agreements in January this year that have cemented the bilateral relations. “The UAE’s US$75 billion in 2015 is the single largest investment announcement in India’s history and that speaks a lot about the nature of the bilateral relationship between the two countries,”Smita Prabhakar, Secretary-General of the IBPC says.“In January, the UAE signed up to build a strategic energy reserve in India that will help boost India’s energy security and help power the growth of Indian economy and help power new industries and urban centres as the country plans to deliver 100 smart cities. “Indian economy is on a roll and for that it needs strategic partners. As the UAE stands by to support India’s growth, it becomes crucial for all of us to help rally the private sector investors to identify the best investment opportunities and benefit from the India growth story.”

About IBPC Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), Dubai is the only recognised representative organisation of Indian Business community and Professionals in Dubai under the auspices of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. For more information, please visit www. ibpcdubai.com

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 81


Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone:

THE FUTURE OF TRADE In response to the growing demand for free zone space, Abu Dhabi Ports has introduced Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone within Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), to become the future of trade in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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ADVERTORIAL

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ith a gross area of 100 square kilometres (across Areas A and B), Khalifa Port FTZ is now the largest free zone in the Middle East, with a wide portfolio of investment sectors including aluminium, automotive, engineered metals, port logistics, food processing, pharmaceuticals, packaging, polymer converting and other industries that rely on Khalifa Port. Khalifa Port FTZ offers a flexible master plan that is capable of accommodating more industries in the future, from a land use perspective. Within the additional free zone territories allocated in the 16 sq km Area ‘A’, KIZAD is

master-planning a Business Park, as well as District and Local Centres. KIZAD Business Park in Area ‘A’ offers multiple real estate opportunities and welcomes interested suppliers to serve the needs of over 50,000 customers, both employees and visitors. Spanning a total area of 84 sq km, Area B will feature heavy, light & logistics industries, commercial complexes, big-box retail stores, town centre and mixed-use developments, as well as residential developments.

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 83


BOLLYWOOD’S FAUJI BRATS

The Fauji Life:

What Three Bollywood Brats Have in Common By Shyamola Khanna

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few days ago I was listening to Anushka Sharma, the svelte beautiful actress who is also an army brat, she spoke very well about how her confidence and her personality was honed and developed by the army. A sentiment shared many years ago by Sushmita Sen and Priyanka Chopra many years ago – the two beauty queens made no bones of the fact that they are a glorious product of the Indian Defence forces. I was a civilian till I got married to my elite fighter pilot and joined the bandwagon of Air Force wives – a wonderful sorority of sisters who believed in sharing and caring. Coming as I did from a large family of sisters I took to it like a duck to water! I loved every minute of my life in the Air Force – the fun, the laughter, the celebrations and of course the constant shortage of money! By the 5th of the month we were back to the‘no money’phase. My poor daughter never got to celebrate her birthday as it came at the

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end of the month – “Baby! first Sunday of next month we shall have a party for you!” We lived in these far flung Air Force stations which were always far away from the nearest railheads, far away from the nearest cities – places civilians have never even heard of ! From Delhi it took us two days to reach

Anushka Sharma attended the Army School in Bangalore, and graduated from Mount Carmel College

Jamnagar on the Gujarat coast after changing three trains! Hasimara, in the nether regions of West Bengal was one ghost station with no lights whatsoever, where one solitary lantern swung by the stationmaster with the dolorous announcements of ‘Hasimara!”woke you up from your long journey and dropped you on a lonely wayside station! Ever heard of Chhabua, Misamari, Tezpur, Digharu, Dinjan? But once you reached the Air Force station you had a crackle and a sparkle that could make all the hassle well worth it’s while! Life on the station was always edgy – the guys went for flying at 0500 hrs in the morning, they went for flying in the noon, early evening, late evening and often for night flying. But do you think they had their fill of it? They would fight like kids over a toy for more sorties and more flying. And the ones in authority dangled the bait of flying to get other mundane chores done!


Priyanka Chopra -After three years of schooling in the U.S., Priyanka finished high-school in India at the Army Public School in Bareilly

The husbands spent all day either flying or thinking about flying but then they were heroes to their kids because they were always there for them – our lunches were our family meals, when the kids and the husband were back to eat at the table. Made a difference to everyone all around – my husband learnt to eat palak, kaddu and lauki as he had to set up a brave face in front of the kids. You do not say no to anything served to you. A civilian cannot imagine getting into a supersonic jet and taking off to cruise the skies – and then get paid for it. The children had their schools within the Air force stations, they grew up learning to ride their bicycles on the streets – there was never any fear of heavy vehicles mowing them down. The drivers of the three tonners were always extra cautious in the places where kids used to play – they knew their responsibilities and understood them well. Our schools took care of the kids and they learnt to mix

with kids from all walks of life, so you could well have your child sharing a bench with a safaiwala’s son or a cook’s son. There were no differences – mercifully there was no Mandal. The Kendriya Vidyalayas(KV) were another great leveler – so unless you were super rich and had money coming to you from home, you sent your kid to the KV and although some of the teachers were notorious with their typical government school mentality, most of them were okay. The kids were surrounded with social activities, which tapped their potential differently; each unique in their own ways. My five year old son knew all about Jaguars and MIGs, Choppers and missiles which his civilian cousins found incomprehensible. He wanted to be a fighter pilot too like his father, but then he went on to join the corporate world and is a banker now. When my daughter came to Class X , she wanted to be a fighter pilot and at that time the Air force was just opening its portals to women but the fighter pilots seat was not yet given up to skirts! Incidentally it is only about a year ago that women are finally being trained to fly fighters – so far they had been flying choppers and the huge transport aircraft but not the fighters. My daughter is a little sad and nostalgic but then she does not linger on the past – she is married, has a creative store as a hobby and a wonderful husband and two kids and another plus – her mother-in-law adores her. Most of our kids chose their own careers and shone in what they chose to do. Okay they were never the 99% types but they did well. The KVs provided them a fair education but not the cut throat competition. Another freedom of choice exercised by the young is the one about a life partner. I have seen many young officers marry out of the boundaries of religion, caste and creed – Muslims marrying Hindus, Mallus marrying Punjus, Bongs marrying Punjus, A Christian marrying a Hindu a Mallu married a Nepalese! Freedom of choice, exercised freely. Secunderabad is the martial twin of the venerable city of Hyderabad . It came up because a little more than 200 years ago, the British wanted to set up a garrison town close to Hyderabad. The difference between the twin cities is visible as soon as you cross into the Secunderabad Cantonment: buildings which are nearly 200 years old stand proud with a fresh coat of paint, while all around you the roads and enclosures are clean and look well cared for. Are you wondering where this is leading?

Sushmita Sen attended Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute (AFGJI) in Delhi a public school run by the Indian Air Force

In essence it is a metaphor for the kind of lives faujis live – boundaries are clearly defined and responsibilities are brought home in no uncertain terms. With the civilian life, the way it is going, the difference between a garrison town and a city is the same as the difference between the fauj and Civvy Street. No one cares if the roads are piled high with rubble and garbage. One cabbie that drove me into a suburb of Secunderabad had this wide eyed look about him and warily questioned me: Is this place not looked after by the local municipal corporation? I smiled and told him with a swell of pride, no the army looks after it. His wariness did not die down because he half expected a soldier to come out firing or waving a danda if he stepped out of line! If wishes were horses… then we would probably have no dirty politicians!! Shyamola Khanna is a freelance writer based in India

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 85


Why did an American Billionaire give Jean Makesh 65 million dollars? Jean Makesh is the CEO/Owner of Lantern Of Madison, a premier assisted living facility in Madison, Ohio. He designed a state of the art care model called “Svayus” for dementia and Alzheimer’s clients, which is the first and the only care model that is therapeutic in nature. The millionaire Occupational Therapist is planning to bring the concept of Assisted Living to India. By Frank Raj

TII: For someone who didn’t plan on going there, how did you end up in the US? JEAN MAKESH: The US was never on my radar. It happened because of my wife Sapna Dhawan; we fell in love when we met at Kolkata University in 1990. We were both studying at the National Institute for the Orthopedically Handicapped, which became a part of Kolkata University. One year junior to me, Sapna looked like a model, and she knew everything about the US. I was a party guy having fun and she came into my life and said you must think about going to the US, there are lots of good opportunities there. She was a Hindu and at that time I knew that the chances of my parents accepting her were not good, so going to America and being independent would score points. I came back to India in 1997, we got married and Sapna joined me in the US subsequently. TII: Your wife Sapna is a doctor? JM: Yes, Sapna studied medicine at IAU – International American University, St. Lucia. She got her residency with University hospitals, Cleveland, Ohio, a very prestigious institution. Her residency was in Psychiatry and she hopes to specialize in Geropsychology and Neuropsychology. Her

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medical education cost US$ 150,000. Sapna had to be away from the family for almost 4 ½ years – I took care of our children – Joshua 10, Hannah 7 and Noah 6 at the time. TII: How was the separation for you as a family? JM: We found a way to make it work. We had Skype and cameras in both our apartments so that the kids could see their mother whenever they wanted to – and when they did they would just go and say Hi Mommy! So the distance was really not a huge problem. TII: After three kids why did Sapna want to be a doctor? JM: Sapna always said,“Jean, when you started, I supported you, and I’ve really wanted to be a doctor for a very long time, it was always my passion, can I go to medical school?” I had two options; I realized it was her dream, so I let her explore that. However I wasn’t sure if she was really committed to it, but she hung on and finished her MD program. TII: How did you get into Occupational Therapy? JM: Like any Indian parents, my folks

Jean has expanded into three counties in North East Ohio and is looking forward to future growth.

wanted me to be a physician but I had no interest in that. I wanted to do something different as the rebel in the family. Their dreams didn’t sync with what I wanted, but just to please them I did a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. We are three brothers, I am the oldest. The youngest lives in Ohio and runs my IT division and the second is an SAP consultant in Canada. Dad is no more, Mom divides her time between all of us. TII: You were fresh out of India then, remember anything in terms of culture shock? JM: Yes, on my first job at Manor Care Willoughby in Ohio, I got fired the very first day! It was my window to reality – I was not very passionate at the time, but that is when I learned to be serious. I realized nothing comes easy, you have to work hard, and you have to be flexible and embrace the culture; no one is going to give you a second chance. I got fired because I was exposed to an elderly client with no experience on the job. Usually a clinical assessment takes about 30-40 minutes and I was taking 2-3 hours because I was so nervous. I was very good in


TRAIL BLAZER

school and I just couldn’t understand why anyone would fire me – I had to prove myself. TII: Your next job was a step up? JM: My next job was with a company called, South Coast Rehab, which was later bought out by the Sun Health Care group, a very large corporation. I had come to America on an H 1 B visa and they were kind enough to apply for my green card. I was with Sun Health for about nine years from 1995 till late 2004. TII: What were you earning at the time? JM: At Manor Care Willoughby I was offered $30,000 but at Sun Health I started on $40,000, still substantially low compared to my peers. But to me, money was not a motivating factor, I was still single and learning was important. I felt that Sun Health was a good fit for me to learn and I worked there as a therapist for six months before they promoted me to a Director’s position. TII: How did your career progress? JM: After my MBA, I got promoted again to Clinical Director of Occupational Therapy for a year, then as Director of Operations based in Michigan, and again as Director of Compliance with a salary of about $75,000. Sun Health was No.1 in the industry at that time, owning 250 nursing homes & 50 hospitals. I managed the clinical compliance side of the rehab division. At one point I had approximately 120 nursing homes in my territory. I was on an air plane almost every day, with frequent travel across the US; I learnt so much from that company. When I quit I was making about $90,000 plus bonuses etc. TII: Did you quit after gaining experience? I always had the idea of working on my own. After two years in Sun HealthCare, seeing how they managed their nursing homes, I realized I could do a better job. I started looking for small nursing homes to buy. I was constantly on the lookout but I couldn’t raise the two or three million dollars required. I was young and eager and the brokers were nice enough to show me around – they knew I had the experience and probably figured this guy could do it. TII: Were you hoping to find an investor? JM: Yes, In 2003 I saw this property in Madison, Ohio, which used to be an old hospital. I called the broker and he was very kind, I told him that I could turn it into a gold mine, and shared my views and ideas with this young Jewish man. He was impressed

and after a few days said that the owner of the property, Edward Dunlap, one of the wealthiest men in the country, wanted to talk to me. So, my wife and I went to meet him and I pitched my idea to Mr. Dunlap. I was very nervous. Ed Dunlap, the investor asked me a lot of questions. Finally he asked me how much money I wanted. I said how much can you give me? “All I can give you is half a million dollars,”he replied.“Can you work magic? I want you to do everything that you told me you can do with this property.” TII: Though desperate you struck a good deal with the investor! JM: Ed Dunlap first said,“I’ll give you half a million dollars, you give me nothing, just pay me a lease.”I said, how about this, I won’t pay you a lease, but let’s work out an arrangement – after eight months I will pay you a percentage of the profits – not a percentage of revenues. Mr. Dunlap replied, “That’s very creative, have you done this before?”I said no.“How long will it take you to put the business in the black?”he wanted to know. I said, it usually takes three years but I can make it happen in ten months. Then he pointed out that everything I suggested was advantageous only to me. I told him that’s the only way I could pick up the building. He said,“What the heck, I’ll give you the money.” He wrote me a check for half a million dollars!

determined to succeed. It took me six months to build 29 rooms, but I had to go back to the investor and borrow another $160,000. TII: You opened doors in May 2004 and got the place filled up by the end of 2005. JM: Yes, I created a new resort model that no one had done before, a hospitality model because I believe we are not a care provider; we are in the service business. We treat every client like a King. I want every vendor including the mailman to know who we are and go and tell everyone what a great facility we run. That’s how we started leveraging our services. TII: Then you borrowed $ 1 million more? JM: In 2005, I thought we should expand. I asked Edward Dunlap for a million dollars and he gave it to me, but I was over budget and I needed $120,000 more, which he refused to give me. It was peanuts for him but for some reason he was adamant. I was frustrated. I went to my bank but they wanted to see my cash flow statement before they gave me the $120,000. The bank allowed me to borrow the money against my house, and so we added another 24 rooms in 2007.

TII: You kept your word and delivered on time. JM: After the eighth month, I started paying my investor about $8,000 a month. Ed Dunlap didn’t want the principal back. He just wanted me to continue paying a consistent flow of money to him for 20 years. That was fine with me, because I knew that banks would not give me the money. Ed would regularly send his accountant to audit my books.

TII: How did Ed Dunlap invest 65 million dollars? In 2010, Edward Dunlap pledged 65 million USD towards the acquisition of assisted living facilities in Ohio and West Virginia. Unfortunately, all my acquisitions failed. Something or the other would go wrong with my acquisitions. I got frustrated. I admitted being a failure to God. I would earnestly pray before every deal and finally I saw my prayers being answered. I would share all my frustrations with my pastor who said, you are young, you are hyper, you need to step back and think. There is something you are not doing that God wants you to do. So I took a step back and thought about it.

TII: How did you succeed? JM: Edward Dunlap had done many real estate transactions but they had not seen a guy like me. For me honesty is the best policy. I had a lot to lose, my wife was pregnant with our son Joshua, I had left a great job which took care of everything in addition to my salary; but now I had to put in my hundred percent. When I started, I just hired an administrator and a cook and I did everything else, including housekeeping and taking care of clients. There were days I worked two straight shifts without sleeping – I was

TII: Is that how your Alzheimer’s niche project started? JM: I had written a project report for an Alzheimer’s care program, complete with technology, concept etc., and I had done nothing about it. I told my pastor this is what I have, which I am not doing. He said, “I think you should do it.” I told him that I didn’t have the money. A couple of days later Ed Dunlap called me and said what about that Alzheimer’s project you pitched? I told him that it was going to be very expensive. Every facility would cost 4.5 million dollars.

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partners what a great job I was doing, but at that moment, I felt like a loser. I didn’t know how to break the news to him.

Jean and Sapna with their kids Joshua 13, Hannah 10 and Noah 9

TII: Was $4.5 million the cost of each facility to be paid for from the 65 million dollars? JM: No, we did not use that that 65 million USD that Ed Dunlap pledged. The 4.5 million USD was a new investment because the Alzheimer’s project was technology heavy. He said fine, go ahead and do it. That’s how we ended up building the Alzheimer care facility. My goal was to build one every year. In July of 2016, we opened our second community in Saybrook, Ohio. It is a 67 bed community in the heart of Ashtabula County. We remodeled the famous Dahlkemper’s Department Store that closed in 1993. In September of 2016, we opened our third community in South Russell, Ohio. The 66 bed community is located in a small residential village with unique character and rural“at home”charm. The property was a former horse farm; so we have kepting the original farm house and barn, and we built the community set back from the road in the pasture. Lantern of Madison our first facility has now been operating for just over 12 years now. Madison is where we were taught by our clients on how to care for them. We have honored our clients by naming rooms in our new communities after them, taking activities that they enjoyed and dedicating a special space to them. At the Lantern, we are innovators and leaders in memory care and assisted living services. We use biophilic space and neuroplasticity to treat Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. TII: What awards have you won in business? JM: The interesting part is that everything that I was pursuing started coming to me. I was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year

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award; another for Occupational Therapy and another for the fastest growing small business. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard presented me another award on behalf of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. When I was in business school, she was someone that I really admired. At that time, women CEO’s were unheard of. TII: In 2012 you had trouble – what happened? JM: I had started enjoying the accolades coming to me and neglecting my business. In June of 2012 I looked at my cash flow statement, I was losing money. We were the first ones in the market but I was negative $540,000. My investor was so confident of me; he had given me an open cheque book. I shuddered at the thought of facing him, wondering that’s it, my life is over. My bank had given me a line of credit that I wanted to use. I wrote a cheque and deposited it but two days later the cheque bounced! TII: Why did that happen? JM: My private banker told me someone had accidentally pushed the wrong button and deleted my line of credit! To reinstate it he needed my cash flow statement. I said oh my God I am negative $540,000. I was under tremendous stress and thought the only thing I could do was to sell the business. TII: How did you solve your cash flow problem? JM: Just then Ed calls me and says,“Jean I am throwing a party and I want all my partners to come.” Now, I am paying him $67,000 a month. I went late to the party and when I walked in everyone got up to shake my hand. Ed Dunlap had told all his other

TII: So how did you deal with the situation? JM: After lunch, I asked Ed if I could have a few minutes of his time and he graciously agreed. When I explained to him that an expert had valued the company at anything between 15-18 million dollars, he was excited, “Wow! Are you kidding?”He asked. I said no. Then I told him how my line of credit got cancelled and he asked,“How much do you need?”I said about 300,000 dollars - he gave me a cheque. It was a safety net and a huge relief to me. We quickly evaluated what was going on in sales and the other departments and within a month we sold the 41 vacant rooms, so I didn’t really need that loan. TII: How does your business model work? JM: We were serving the top three percent of the market and I thought how do we serve the bottom 97 percent? Many people were calling and we were turning them down. So I created three pricing models: Cadillac is $7,000/month, Ford is $4,500/month, and Kia is $3,000/ month). We are the cheapest in the market and we provide a lot more for the money. The deposit for a client to enter our Alzheimer’s facility is only about $4,000. I found a way to cut the construction costs, which is a big fixed cost that drives the mortgage. I keep that in check and take that saving and give it back to the consumers. I started educating them… and they all signed up. TII: Do you have plans for ‘Assisted Living’ in India? JM: The facilities in India are not really offering what the consumers need. We have so much more we can do for people. My management staff can run the operations, and train the local team in India. We are in discussion with Dr. Modi’s group to partner with them to build an assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation center in Saket, New Delhi. TII: You recently received an award in Dubai. JM: I was honored in Dubai at the World Government Summit for innovation and was featured as one of the Top 50 Influencers in Aging by Next Avenue, a digital platform launched by PBS network. Frank Raj is the founding Editor of TII


INTERVIEW

Thumbay Hospital Ajman

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your personal life? Being from a business family, expanding the business and taking it to greater heights has been very satisfying. To emulate my senior generations and inculcate the values in my sons and younger family members has been a sort of achievement in my personal life.

Thumbay Moideen is the Founder and President of Thumbay Group, a diversified international business conglomerate headquartered at DIFC – Dubai, United Arab Emirates. From a single entity set up in 1998, Thumbay Group’s businesses now span 20 sectors including Education, Healthcare, Medical Research, Diagnostics, Retail Pharmacy, Health Communications, Retail Opticals, Wellness, Nutrition Stores, Hospitality, Real Estate, Publishing, Trading, Marketing & Distribution, Medical Tourism, Events, Media and Technology. Our operations now extend throughout the UAE, with presence in India, and soon to foray into other GCC countries and Africa. The Group employs over 4000 people currently, which will rise to 6000 by the end of this year (2017), and to 20,000 by 2022. The transformation into a diversified international business conglomerate which has earned the trust of customers has been a great achievement.

What was the greatest source of inspiration to succeed? I attribute my success to my wife, who has been a great source of support and inspiration. My grandfather and my father have been my constant inspiration all through. If you had to start all over again what would you do differently? I have no regrets about anything that has happened in the course of this journey. I believe that I’ve done my best. If you could pass on the secret of success what would that be? It is simple… hard work and perseverance are a must as everybody knows. But it is more important to be ethical, and transparent to succeed. The younger generation looks for instant success, but it takes time to establish oneself. What do you think is the line of business today that offers great potential? I feel it is technology and innovation. Healthcare has great potential as long as we innovate.

The speed of economic and technological changes means that the right path yesterday may not work today and could be completely outdated by tomorrow. Solving these dynamic problems is what separates those who excel from the companies who are struggling. What would be your vision for the region? The leaders of the region have envisioned a great way forward. Our vision is very much in tune with their promises for the future. All of Thumbay Group’s strategic plans have been drawn up in concurrence with the governments’ visions. We are committed to transforming the region into a global hub for education and healthcare. Healthcare is leading the way in the region, your thoughts? The visionary leaders of the region have rightly identified healthcare as a priority sector. Considering the strengths like economy, infrastructure and connectivity the region possesses, we are sure to witness the transformation of the region into an advanced healthcare hub, as well as the most popular medical tourism destination. What does the future hold for the medical fraternity? More challenging yet interesting times are in store for the medical fraternity. Technological advances, increased emphasis on patient convenience and greater automation are some aspects which will significantly transform the way medical professionals function.

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EDUCATION

Exploring New Horizons in Education By Rema Menon V

Roughly five million students are studying outside their home countries today. That’s more than double the 2.1 million who did so in 2000 and more than triple the number of mobile students in 1990.

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his astounding growth has occurred in the context of an increasingly globalised world in which economies are closely tied to others within their region and beyond. In 2017, money and trade are flowing freely across many borders and from many sources, as are knowledge and skills.(ICEF Monitor April 2017) However, with the uncertain political climate brought about by BREXIT, demonetisation, money transfer barriers, currency devaluation, change in visa regulations, conflicts as a result of war, economic shifts including recession, slump in oil prices, economic sanctions, racial discrimination and hate crime, families are forced to reconsider their children’s higher education plans. So the big question faced by most students is...”To go or not to go overseas for higher studies?”This is the question that most students and their parents are grappling with. High school is a time when higher education plans are made and the career quest begins. Until a few years ago, most expat families sent their children either to their home countries or westward to pursue higher education. In the UAE, with local options becoming increasingly available and

the realisation that the tuition fee and living costs are exponentially increasing year by year, families are forced to rethink their plans. Should I pursue my post secondary education in the UAE? Where else can I study - India, USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, Europe, Malaysia or New Zealand? How much would it cost? Would my degree be of use in my home country or in the UAE, which is home now? With so many institutions to choose from, how do I pick the right one? Am I eligible for a scholarship? Are the subjects I have chosen right for my dream Uni? Should I complete my year 13 before going or can I go now like the hundreds of others who are getting their applications ready? What should I look for when choosing a career? I have taken the science stream but I now realise it’s not for me … can I switch to commerce now? These are just some of the questions that come to mind when a young adult gets into that crossroad when the next step has to be planned. Students of Indian curriculum schools must decide between science, commerce and the arts streams in grade 10 while students in British and American schools must select their subjects in grade 9. It is difficult for adolescents to make decisions about curricular choice in grades 8


EDUCATION

and 9 if they are not able to assess their capabilities. Most of the time the decisions are based on the marks secured, parents’ desires and what their friends are doing. At the ages of 15 and 16, adolescents are better able to take their goals and values into consideration when making a career decision. Even if they may not know how to weigh their interests, capacities and values, they have the necessary building blocks for choice says Richard Sharf in his book on Applying Career Development Theory to Counselling. He also says that adolescents become aware that they must make choices. With their developed cognitive abilities, they may start considering such abstract questions as - is it better to make money or to help others? These may be issues they had not thought of earlier. Making a contribution to the world and being a credit to society are factors that may be considered. At this point reality starts to play an important role in career choice. Students at this stage are more discerning in their decisions on what major to choose, which colleges to consider, the job trends, the competitiveness of the admissions process and the availability of places. They begin to realise that they can make their own future. Salary, educational requirements, work conditions, hopes, dreams and fears are issues they tend to discuss among their peers, teachers and parents. Students are influenced by the serials they watch, the books they read and the teachers who shape their interests . Some schools bring in experts from various fields to talk about their qualifications, job responsibilities and pre requisites for pursuing that field. Some schools arrange psychometric assessments before the students make subject choices. Information on the actual world of work, career planning, career orientation, and preferences – all this is necessary in the career exploration phase. Introspection helps in decision-making.

Every young adult has unique needs and desires. Family plans, budget constraints and long-term goals must be considered when making this life-impacting decision.

The KHDA’s annual Education Landscape Report reveals data on the private school’s in Dubai.

Parental guidance

7 new schools opened in the 2015-16

Parents can help in the planning phase by taking their children to educational fairs, providing them opportunities to meet students from different universities, encouraging them to read about different careers on the internet and in newspapers, and by discussing options. It is also important to recognise that academic excellence alone does not ensure acceptance at top schools. Admissions department officials in universities overseas need to see an all-rounder, a person involved in extra-curricular activities. One who is able to balance a demanding academic load with extracurricular pursuits. Institutions in India focus on the student’s academic profile. So it is important to become aware of the admission procedures and the ‘cut offs’ or minimum percentages required. Apart from this, there may be entrance exams to be taken for which applications must be made as early as January, in some institutions. Other than this, gaining invaluable work experience while in school is a concept not widely practiced in this region due to social mores although it is now permitted by UAE laws. Most students in the West, undertake various tasks from news paper delivery to working in labs, giving them life skills that help in the process of careers exploration. An interesting trend today is the concept of a gap year. Some students choose to work, travel and volunteer or prepare for competitive examinations soon after high school. Many students aspiring to secure a place in Medical college for example, prepare for the NEET exam in India while others volunteer in a hospital setting or at an NGO. These experiences provide an opportunity to explore, learn and understand oneself and one’s aspirations.

University Education in the U.A.E. Students from across the globe come to the UAE to earn skills in Dubai’s international education institutions. Dubai plays host to 26,125 students in its 23 universites offering 400 courses. Around 33 per cent of students travel from abroad to study in Dubai and 67 per cent of the students are UAE residents. Universities are witnessing a 7.5 per cent growth in student enrollment. The most number of graduates and enrollments are in Business studies, closely followed by Engineering studies. Apart from this, according to the Commission for Academic Accreditation,(www.caa.ae) there are 79 licensed institutions in the U.A.E.

Currently Dubai has 173 schools and academic year. The schools are housing a whooping 265,299 students of which 58 per cent are Emirati. The schools have a 5.6 per cent student enrollment growth annually. The report revealed that British curriculum is the most popular in Dubai, with 65 schools operating with the UK curriculum housing 84,612 students. Indian curriculum schools came in a close second with 32 schools housing 78,716 students and US curriculum came in third with 31 schools with 48,493 students. International Baccalaureate (IB) and MoE schools are 11 each, housing 15,161 and 14,353 students, respectively. There are six Iranian curriculum schools in Dubai. Speaking about the nationalities of the students, it was found that there are 183 nationalities in the schools with Indian students being the most, followed by UAE nationals and Pakistani students. Abu Dhabi currently has 186 private schools, and last year, they enrolled more than 236,000 pupils.

Some of our youngsters, who have always lived a sheltered life, find it overwhelming and initially difficult to cope in a new education location even if it’s their own hometown. While some youngsters are emotionally and mentally prepared to leave home immediately after school, others are not mentally ready for this transition. We need to recognise the needs of such young adults and help them find opportunities within the country that will help them attain their goals. By forcing such a youngster into a decision he/she is not emotionally ready to handle, we may be doing more harm than good. Leaving home for the first time can be quite a daunting prospect, so we need to be supportive and prepare them in advance. Parents and teachers have to give youngsters opportunities for growth, independence and self-reliance. Some students return to the UAE because they were not able to cope with in their

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chosen university sometimes because of weather, some because of academic rigour or methodology, some because of homesickness o for health reasons. The reasons may vary because each student is unique and so are his/her needs and experiences. Rather than force children to take up a course or a destination that we perceive to be the best for them, we should be open to their aspirations, prepared to adapt to change and continuously upgrade skills. As per Tom Goodwin, Head of Zenith Media,“We can’t imagine a career in 2020, let alone 2030. We have no idea what skills will be needed or what jobs will exist. We are all going to have to get better at being more malleable and adept at change. It is not beyond the realms of imagination that even a 25 year old today may have 30 different jobs in several different careers in their life. They may earn from ten companies at the same time. We need to get better at this flexibility”. (Source:www.weforum.org) To conclude, the importance of life-long learning should also be emphasised and internalised. Irrespective of age and educational background, we adults should set examples to children by upgrading skills and looking for ways and means to keep abreast through professional development opportunities. Whether one pursues an education in the UAE, overseas or online, learning should be a lifelong process.... Rema Menon V, Director - Counselling Point www.counsellingpoint.com

Aparna Kumar MAHE Manipal, Dubai Campus • Could you tell me what you are studying? I am studying B.A. in Media and Communication in Manipal University Dubai. I am in my final year now. • What were some of the

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Shanice Verhoven, American University of Sharjah

• Could you tell me what you are studying? Design Management. • What were some of the higher education destinations you were considering? Canada and the UAE. I had friends who were going there, and it echoed the multicultural environment I grew up in, so it seemed like a good choice. But a part of me wanted to remain in the UAE always. •Why did you opt for UAE? I’ve lived my whole life in the UAE, and I did not see a reason to change that.

higher education destinations you were considering? The higher education destinations that I was looking at right after school was USA, and India. In India I was looking into Symbiosis college, In USA I was looking into Cornell and Emerson university. • Why did you opt for UAE? I opted for UAE because it is closer to home, more affordable as well as at the fact that I can take up internships in the place I wish to work in the long term. • What made you choose Manipal? I chose Manipal University as its media and communication is one of the best in the UAE. I was also looking for an Indian university with a structured environment with teachers who have had a lot of experience. • Were you granted a scholarship? I was granted a discount on joining due to my 12th grade marks. • How has the experience been so far?

The experience of studying in Manipal has truly been one of a kind. The teachers are very helpful and are very knowledgeable in their respective subjects. The course itself is a very interesting and really makes me want to know more about the field of advertising. I love how we have people from the industry come and talk to us about the field to prepare us for what to expect in the working arena. Also the sports facilities are very good and we at Manipal always ensure we win every sports tournament. • What do you like most about Manipal? I like Manipal for its unity. They always let us celebrate our diversity within college showing us that no matter what we as students are united. There are no problems on bullying or harassment of any sort and each and every student is given equal importance when it comes making themselves heard. Everyone is given a chance to display their

• What made you choose American University of Sharjah? AUS has an excellent reputation and some amazing educational programs that met my requirements. There’s also the fact that it is within the UAE and close to family and friends. • Were you granted a scholarship? Yes, a merit scholarship based on my academic profile. The scholarship will be renewed as long as I maintain my academic standing. • How has the experience been so far? Although it is only my second semester, my time at AUS has been amazing both academically and socially. • What is it that you like most about AUS? Making friends with students of diverse cultural backgrounds and academic interests. I have always had the exposure to a very global way of living and now I find that extension in the way my career quest is shaping up. Our perspective impacts our designs and this makes it very interesting. • What are your plans for the future? I suppose like everyone else, to graduate, work and pursue a higher a degree. • Do you have a message for students who are graduating this year? Dream big and work hard!

talent and there are many events which showcase the different departments of the college for example MCRAW of the media and communication department as well as Technovanza which is the Engineering department event. • What are your plans for the future? I am swaying between either pursuing a degree in psychology or MBA because both qualifications will really boost my career in the advertising industry. • Do you have a message for students who are graduating this year? Consider all your options and always make sure you are selecting the right one. Doing a career assessment will be a good starting point. Whether you wish to take up media or engineering make sure you know that you have to love it in order to work in that field for the rest of your life. We all have one life to live so be sure to choose what you are good at or find engaging..


GUPTARA GARMAGARAM

Modi’s machismo

and the politics of diversion

The Prime Minister of our country (whichever party he or she belongs to) is appropriately accorded high respect. By Guptara Garmagaran

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owever, respect does not mean blindness; nor does it mean that the truth should not be spoken. Only that any evaluation of the Prime Minister’s performance should be done in a fair, balanced and respectful way. I am conscious that I often fail to be fair and respectful, even with lesser mortals – and indeed even with friends and relatives. However, my recognition that those are failures means that I am conscious of the ideal, and that I try, when I realise that I have fallen short of that ideal, to set things right. Clearly, our PM has done many things that are good. No wonder many people merely sing his praises - and those are great to make the PM and his other supporters feel good. But if one wants to improve performance, it is necessary to provide not merely praise but also an assessment of where things have gone wrong or could have been done better. Any such overall performance of our PM’s performance so far shouldn’t, in my view, merely list various significant things he’s done or supported and then produce a“pass” or“fail”in relation to each of them. Clearly, individual initiatives should and must be judged, but such assessment is best done in the context of an overall assessment. My overall assessment is that Modiji has no any overall plan or strategy, and that he is driven by what sounds good (is that the influence of our mantric culture?). He does not seem to have any purpose beyond increasing power and control, and of course staying in power after the next General Elections. It is only natural (and certainly not at all wrong) for a PM and other elected officials

to want to be re-elected. The problem is that, so far, our PM seems to basing his appeal not on economic progress, or institutional reinvigoration, or on serving the high ideals of our Constitution, but rather on the lowest common denominators in our country: machismo, jingoism, and bribery. Whether it is Kashmir, gau raksha (cow protection), demonetisation, or dealing with the Chinese, the PM and the ruling party have no clear objective that appears worth pursuing – and therefore of course no plan or strategy. Worse, Modiji is putting himself in danger of becoming known as a hypocrite. I acknowledge that a certain amount of hypocrisy is necessary for any leading politician. But the gap between promise and delivery is becoming too wide. Take the issue of black money. Modiji campaigned at least partly on the basis that he would eliminate or at least reduce corruption throughout the country. But his own election campaign saw the largest-ever use of black money in our history. Who in our previous history had commanded enough money to simultaneously utilise chartered aircraft, helicopters and holograms, run unprecedentedly-large media campaigns, and employ hundreds or thousands (or was it tens of thousands) of social media and Internet tacticians and trolls? In order to maintain some credibility as an anti-corruption crusader, Modiji took the liberty of giving the impression, on his very first day as PM, that he was setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice MB Shah, for the purpose of investigating

unaccounted money stashed away outside the country and of formulating steps to bring it back. In fact, the SIT had already been set up by the Supreme Court on the 4th of July 2011. The SIT is still sitting, and has eleven investigatory and regulatory agencies working under it, but its most major achievement has been to persuade the government to ban cash transactions of more than Rs 3 lakhs. None of the people accused of stashing black money abroad have been brought to book so far. At present, the most startling and telling evidence of Modiji’s hypocrisy on the matter of black money is Adani-gate. The rise and rise of the Modi-Adani combine has never been allowed to be thoroughly investigated. Moreover, whatever is known, has not been allowed to be sufficiently communicated. Take just the staggering matter of the Enayam International Container Transhipment Terminal (EICTT): What shenanigans ensured that an ultramega port project, worth Rs-27,750-crore (USD 4.3 billion), had only one bidder from around the world? What incentives persuaded a Union Minister to abandon caution and objectivity, and even use strong-arm tactics to cow down the Kerala Government’s opposition to the project? Were Kochi Port, as well as the Vallarpadam International Container Terminal, located only a very few miles away, deliberately allowed to mark time and even deteriorate (running far below capacity) so as to create the conditions by which the EICTT could be created by Adani? Sadly, many other startling and positivesounding steps taken by the PM also disappear into thin air on being checked out, or turn out to be measures that have had hardly any real results due to mismanagement. Arguably, these include Jan Dhan, demonetisation, and the imposition of apparent limits on political donations (the last of these seems deliberately designed to be easily side-stepped). What all of that amounts to is some final questions: Can Modiji’s actions and initiatives be summed up as a series of diversions from the major issues facing the country? If so, how long can a politics of mere diversion succeed in fooling our people? Prof. Prabhu Guptara has written the above in an entirely private capacity, and none of the above should be related in any way to any of the companies or organisations with which he is now, or has been associated in the past. His personal website is www. prabhu.guptara.net He blogs at: www.prabhuguptara. blogspot.com

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Honour Your Father and Your Mother:

Look after Your Parents in India

Knowing this child-parent long distance relationship from so many angles I thought I knew all the pros and cons. But as I conducted my interviews I realised I must set aside the tint of my own experiences to better understand how different people cope with what can be a difficult juggling act. By Ruqya Khan

H

aving lived as an expat for more than 80 percent of my life I have seen both sides of the long distance child-parent relationship. I grew up in Kuwait and was witness to emotional moments and outbursts as my parents did their duties as the eldest child of their respective families. Later when I switched sides, got married and came to

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UAE I was the child living away from home without my parents. I was therefore thrilled when this story was assigned to me. Archana RD, aka B’lu is a UAE based writer and artist. She has been away from home since the last 12 years. Her family is now more in Kerala,“They have their parents, and their work and farm-related interests also keep them busy.”Her parents are relatively

Malini Ohri with her parents

young and not financially dependent on her. “They don’t have those expectations from me, both are only in their 50s. I will discuss with my partner and siblings to assess and decide what has to be done when or if any financial needs arise. As of now I enjoy staying in touch with them consistently. Caring for each other is common sense. Common sense is no more that when it is forcefully redefined as burden or blessing.” In any relationship it’s always the little things that leave the deepest mark. Children either do as was done to them or they drift away. One person who sees her 70+ parents as her role models is Anupama Naveen, an NLP practitioner who has been away from home for 10 years.“I am totally blessed to have a set of parents who have not only given me a high set of moral and ethical values, but are the true example of how to live and enjoy your life to its full potential. Talking to them is morale boosting every time we interact.” Anupama believes,“our bonding and emotional attachments are much stronger with our parents because of our culture and family values in India. I have two brothers one elder and one younger. Nonetheless her father K.N. Budhiraja, 75, and mother Krishna, 70, are strong believers of old Indian traditions – beti ke ghar ka nahin le


HONOUR YOUR PARENTS

Rubi Rashid

saktey (we can’t accept anything from our daughters). She admits,“I know they will never come and stay with me. In all these 10 years that I have been away from home I was able to convince them to come over and stay with us only once!” Rubi Rashid who is a home maker acknowledges these old traditions as she talks about her parents, Abdul Rashid, Jamadar, 68, and mother Gazal, 55.“Every culture has its own way of doing things. In the West I think every person tends to be more independent and self-reliant. However we as Indians are emotionally dependent on each other. Our expectations are based on what we have seen and learnt from our ancestors. While it is normal to give the son a larger role in taking care of the parents I really don’t see the need for this divide. In fact my husband and I have a mutual understanding to take care of each other’s parents as and when required.”

Anupama with her mother

Anas Ebraham

With more and more parents now making well defined plans for their future their dependence on support from children has begun to diminish. Deeps A works as a Data Analyst in the West and moved away from home about three years ago when she got married. She has a younger brother who is also not with her parents in New Delhi. “For parents I feel the emotional needs are stronger than financial because those can be met or perhaps even delayed. But during the times when they feel lonely it is quite an empty place. They have probably gotten used to it because both their kids don’t live with them and they may not prefer to move abroad being comfortable living in their native town. Distance makes a relationship different from when you are together. I have written letters to my dad expressing my feelings for him. Apart from that I call them regularly and ensure that I am available for them whenever they need me.”

Deepshikha

Anas Ebraham is a Marketing Manager with Elekta who has been away from India for four years now. He feels having the blessings of parents, Ibrahim, 67, and Asma, 58, is a privilege that fate takes away due to the reality of life. He observes,“The financial aspect of aging parents is a far away reality to me. I give priority to their emotional needs and by being with them as often as I can. It really doesn’t matter how you say I Love You, but how you show it. As a child we all tend to see oour parents as these invincible adults. “For all of my life when I looked at my parents they were frozen for me at the same age. They always seemed strong, energetic and young. That is how they have always seemed to me. They have been my guides and my anchor my entire life. I always know I can call my dad for advice, and whenever I need sympathy I know I can call my mom. No matter how old your parents are the reality is that any of us could lose our parents at any time. We all need to make an effort to make more time for them, express more love for them, and make sure they feel appreciated while we still have them with us.” C.M.Junith’s elderly parents, Janardhanan, 72, and Prameela, 65, reside in Kannur, Kerala. Junith is employed in Bahrain as a Badminton Coach and discipline coordinator at The Indian School. Looking back at the 10 years that he has been away from home he says,“Given the opportunity I would love to bring my parents to live with me in Bahrain but they are not ready. The familiarity of their community and daily routine keeps them rooted to their home. Fortunately they are healthy and can take care of themselves. Moreover my brother is stationed there and I visit them every year

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Junith with his family

and whenever they need my help I do the needful. Their biggest regret is that they can’t be with their granddaughter! We make up for this by making frequent video calls and sending voice notes too,”he adds. “It’s for the purpose of a better lifestyle and income that I am living abroad. I am aware that Bahrain is not my home. I have given my old house for rent and with that income my parents manage the house and their expenses. Our tenants are a few good bachelors so it is assuring to know that every time especially at night there is someone in the compound to help them. I strongly believe it is a blessing to take care of our

Archana with her husband

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parents; it is because of them we are here in this world. Our children are silently learning how we care for our parents and it will definitely come back to us when we are old.” Honouring parents is the only command in the scriptures that promises long life as a reward, so those who honour their parents are truly blessed. Malini Ohri, owner of Dubai’s Splendour beauty hair centre has elderly parents living in India.“My father Colonel Baldev Arora, is 92 and my Mum Dolly is 85 – they are physically fit and active. Love for me boils down to moments and what we do with what we have. The time you spend with

your parents is precious and every little thing counts for them. During a recent trip to Dubai my father broke his neck and made a full recovery from the accident. He also has a bit of dementia so we do feel concerned for his well being.”Malini is fortunate that that in India her parents live in a safe and secure gated community where neighbours have known them for 35 years, which gives her a sense of peace and assurance. My sister and I are in the UAE but we frequently visit them to ensure they are well taken care of. It’s a well-knit circle of social support they have and we do our best to continue to be a part of their world as often as we can by making calls or making visits and participating in the little joys and occasions.” Another such daughter who flies down to India at the drop of a hat is Mubeena Mohammed, Organizational Psychologist and CEO of Scholar Consultants, who runs her own business in UAE. She is happily single but the one criterion she is sure about is that she would always want to be in the UAE because it’s only a three hour plane ride away from her parents, Mohammed, 68 and Nishreen, 59.“If my future husband wants to move to Europe, North America, Australia or even the closest Asian city that’s far from India, we’d have something to argue about! Even though my parents are healthy and happy, being close to them physically is a big reason for their state of mind. Plus I really love their company and how young at heart they are, so being far away from them would just change my attitude as well,”she feels. “For Mubeena and her sister Amal the roles start outside the financial grounds. What we do for our parents is basically enjoy their company when they are in town

Mubeena Mohammed


HONOUR YOUR PARENTS

or when we’re all together for a vacation somewhere! We also advise our mom on new trends in business, social media and networking since she operates her own fashion business in India. My father is active in the stock market and also enjoys his passion of horse racing and playing bridge. My mother is an avid singer and has joined numerous singing and musical groups letting her stay in touch with her talent. My parents are the ones who support us emotionally and morally when we need it, and boy do they know how to have fun! Across different levels we model them and their attitude for life.” Sandi Saksena an Empowerment Officer and Financial Controller seconds her opinion. “Freedom to live as they please is what makes elders content. After a certain age it becomes difficult for them to be uprooted from their base and be settled in with their children abroad. Taking away the ‘master and mistress of their home’ is taking away their dignity, independence, decision making. If their opinions don’t count it can lead to depression and ill health. While children often take on their needs of financial and emotional care I feel it is important to spend time with them to plan as a family with input from parents where they should live, how they will manage and what precautions need to be taken. In my case my widowed Mum Inez, 80, came to live with my sister in Dubai where we all live. Mum is very close to her one of her granddaughters who is an individual with special needs. My sister is a career woman and so mum runs the home front and feels useful and valued. Mum has companionship and all her needs are

Shveta Verma with her mother and children

Sandi Saksena

taken care of. We monitor her health closely and she is under the care of a wonderful doctor. She is happy to be surrounded by all her children and grandchildren and says she is blessed!” The relationship is able to breathe and grow only when we keep communication channels open. Understand what your parents need to feel joy and be satisfied. It is important to decide together and not take things for granted. An open conversation about the difficult topics of aloneness, money matters and health concerns is essential. Shveta Kumar, a self taught artist and entrepreneur, has been away from home for about 16 years. She lives in the USA with her husband and kids. Her father died in 1993 and her mother Manju Kumar, 68, now

lives in Pune.“Mum lives with my sister and her family and she’s healthy, independent, capable and managing well. Health wise she has slight difficulty in walking because of some issue with her ankle. Not being gainfully employed since retirement in 2010 bothers her especially since she was working throughout her adult life. I talk to my mother every single day. It’s fun and I miss talking to her whenever she isn’t available. I try to visit India every year if possible. We’d like her to stay with us, but with nothing much to do here and no friends, she doesn’t think she could spend the rest of her life in a foreign country as much as she loves being with us.” Taking a step back from her own situation and while she lives in the USA Shveta adds,“The West has standard facilities like communities, medical facilities etc., for seniors to live on their own. Unlike India, to have one’s older parents at home is not a trend in the West nor does anyone expect it. I think India is slowly following in the West’s footsteps. When parents have not been very successful in providing for themselves - there are no easy solutions or answers. A lot of seniors are in dire straits because they didn’t plan for old age. Most of my friends’ parents are either still capable of living on their own or live with one of their children. It’s inspirational to see our parent’s generation not giving up on having fun just because they are“old”or not“supposed to”. They are still conservative but highly relaxed as compared to my grandparent’s generation. What depresses me sometimes is when I hear people abusing or taking advantage of seniors. Children and elders are the most vulnerable and it breaks my heart to hear of their suffering.” While every relationship in life has its own set of unsaid rules I have begun to cherish the closeness I have with my parents in spite of the distance. As a single child it isn’t easy to separate myself from them so that I can run my world and family. I am blessed to have a partner who is most supportive of their needs. He takes the place of the son they never had. Over the years what I have harvested from experience is that a person does not need to fit roles and relationships into boxes so that they work flawlessly. They just need to let the threads weave together so that they make a beautiful tapestry that warms the heart and home with content. There really is no magic formula to make things work. Mummy-papa…this one is for you…love you! Ruqya Khan is a freelance writer based in Dubai.

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‘INDIA IN THE TOP LEAGUE FOR THE EXPORT OF MIGRANTS’ From Albania to Zimbabwe and Australia to Zambia, millions of Indians have settled in almost all the corners of the world making it the top country exporting migrants. A new study by a U.S. research body says Indians make up over three percent of the global population. TII’s London Editor SHAMLAL PURI analyses this report to find the reasons for this mass migration. By Shamlal Puri Indian cuisine now features popularly around the world. Swadisht Restaurant in Curtiba, Brazil.

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W

hen travelling with my parents in 1957 as a growing child in Africa, I have memories of stopping in a very tiny village opposite an Indian’s small village shop near Broken Hill (now Ndola) in the then Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) when our vehicle’s tyre had a puncture. On seeing us, the friendly Gujarati shopkeeper walked across the road and welcomed us and introducing himself and offering the help of his shop assistant to change the tyre. He then invited us for lunch at his house behind his shop. I still remember that man’s name – Karsan Bhai. We told him that we were on our way to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and then Nyasaland (now Malawi). He was generous enough to give us contacts of his

friends and relations in both the countries where we were invited to stay with them. In those days, unlike today, Indians rarely stayed in hotels but only with friends, relations or acquaintances through the chain of community contacts. The term Dukawalla is coined from the East Africa’s Asian communities who set up shops even in tiny villages in the remotest parts of the region serving far-flung communities. It would take several weeks at a stretch to ferry supplies from the city. Stories abound of how wealthy British farmers used to go the cities or bigger towns in their small planes bringing back with them supplies as a favour to Asian Dukawalla friends. Although my experience of Indians living abroad goes back only to the 1950s, Indians have a long history of migration from the motherland – even before the country achieved its independence in 1947. Indians were transported by British colonials as indentured labourers to work on sugar plantations in various part of Africa, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji, the Caribbean islands. They stayed on and today form an integral component of the communities there. Millions of Indians left their homeland


INDIA’S MIGRANT EXPORTS

and settled in foreign countries from well before the 19th Century. They have been through political upheavals, mass expulsions, exoduses, suffered disenfranchisement yet in spite of these problems have stuck around or migrated to other countries. Very small numbers have returned to India. How many Indians are living in foreign countries? No firm figures are available, but a recent indication from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs gives us some ideas. It says 31.2 million Indians are living globally. Of these, 13.4 million are Persons of Indian Origin and 17 million are NRIs. This justifies the claims made by a US report that India leads the way in being a top exporter of people, beating China by a significant margin. The recently-released report by the Pew Research Centre, a Washington-based nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about issues, attitudes and trend shaping the world, says India is the top country of origin for international migrants. According to this study, 15.6 million Indians are living outside India – comprising 3.3% of the world’s population. Looking at the Indian Government report, the figure

is clearly under-estimated, but it does point to the fact that India leads the way when it comes to exporting people! While India leads the league table of people living abroad, the second highest number of immigrants comes from Mexico at 12.3 million, Russia 10.6 million, China 9.5 million and Bangladeshi nationals 7.2 million. Which are the most popular countries where Indian migrants have settled? Of the Indians, the study notes that in 2015 nearly 3.5 million Indians currently live in the United Arab Emirates, making it the world’s second largest migration corridor. Interestingly, in the last two decades, Indian emigration to the Persian Gulf countries has shot up from 2 million to more than 8 million. “Most have migrated for economic opportunities in these oil-rich countries,” notes the report. Other destination countries popular with Indians are the United States which has more than 2 million in 2013, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Indians have made their fortunes in the US with some thriving in influential positions such as the recently appointed Nimrata

‘Nikky’ Haley in President Donald Trump’s administration. Daughter of Indian migrants Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, she got the name Nikky (meaning smallest or the youngest in the family). The 1972-born American politician was the 116th Governor of South Carolina before Trump appointed her the US Ambassador to the United Nations. She is the second Indian after Bobby Jindal to serve as governor. The Trump administration’s constant attacks on migrants and consequent violence spell danger to the future of the Indian numbers in the US forcing them to move to Canada or return to India. The United Kingdom has more than 1.45 million Indians – a majority of them British nationals – making them 2.3% of the population and the single largest ethnic minority population in the country. According to historical records, there were some 40,000 Indians in the UK in 1850 which today has swelled to over 1.4 million. Indians are a thriving and well-settled community in business, industries, professions, and blue collar workers. In fact, Indian doctors form the backbone of the National Health Service with 94,202 Asian The annual Sunday Times Asian Bridal Fair in Durban is a very popular event for South African Asians.

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INDIA’S MIGRANT EXPORTS

prominent individuals including Deepak doctors according to official records. Of these 25,226 are Indians and 33,555 UK-born Indian Obhrai, the first MP from the Hindu community. Prolific writers like M G Vassanji, descent medicos. The remainder comes from the late Ladis da Silva, TV anchors Suhana other parts of the Indian sub-continent. A Meharchand, Nirmala Naidoo, Zain Verjee further 5,000 are being recruited from India to of CNN fame, Indira Naidoo-Harris and Ali meet the shortfall of doctors in the NHS. Velshi, the first MP of Indian descent in the The British Association of Physicians of Ontario legislature are also remembered. Indian origin led by Dr Ramesh Mehta has a Canada’s largest Hindu temple is the BAPS membership of 50,000 Indian doctors. He said medical services in the UK need at least 15,000 Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and the Ontario Khalsa Darbar both in Toronto. more foreign doctors to fill the demand. Similarly, there are substantial Added to this are more than 15,000 Indian communities of Indians settled in English nurses recruited directly from India who work speaking African countries like Tanzania, for the NHS. This number easily doubles Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, when UK-born Indian nurses are added. Botswana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The growth was in part in the 1960s and One also finds Indians 1970s when large numbers of in Angola, Rwanda, Indians arrived from the East Burundi, Democratic African countries of Kenya, Republic of Congo, Fiji, Uganda and Tanzania. Indian Trinidad and Tobago, communities from UK’s Mauritius, Australia, New overseas territories including Zealand, South Africa, the Gibraltar, Virgin Islands, 27 European Community Cayman Islands, Anguilla countries and even in and Montserrat have also places like Afghanistan, settled in the UK. Russia, Tajikistan, Today, Britain has more Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Hong than 300 Sikh Gurdwaras Kong, Malaysia, Singapore. and over 200 Hindu Kenya is a fascinating temples where all religious study of Indian settlers. rituals are practised with The first Indian railway celebrations that draw Indian worker, a Sikh, arrived communities settled here in with his son in January big numbers. 1896. They were part of In Germany, official figures 4,000 Indians recruited estimated in 2009 that there to build the Kenyawere more 110,204 people Uganda Railway. of Indian descent. This figure Historical documents may have gone up in the last say a total of 31,983 seven years. The early arrivals Indian workers were were recruited from Kerala in A Hindu temple rises up in the sky with a statue of Hanuman in Port of Spain, hired to build the railway the 1960s to work as nurses Trinidad & Tobago. of which 6,724 chose to in German hospitals. stay on after the construction was over. Some There are prominent Indians of 2,000 were recruited to run the railways, which German nationality who have gone on explains the presence of so many Indians in to play important national roles such as the railways of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Gujjula Ravindra Reddy, former Mayor It interesting to note that in 1962, there of Atlandsberg who later became MP of were 158,800 Indians with the largest Brandenburg; Anita Bose Pfaff – daughter concentration – 32% in Nairobi, 34.6% in of Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Kisumu and 24.2% in Mombasa. Bose. Raju Sharma a German MP, Social The 1968 exodus of non-citizen Indians Democratic Party MP Sebastian Edathy and brought the population to 125,300 leaving Robin Dutt, football manager, among others. Kisumu with a concentration of 20.6% There are more than 1.26 million Indians and Mombasa with 15.8% and slashing the settled in Canada. They settled there largely number of those in the capital Nairobi to in the 20th Century from India, East Africa, a mere 13.2%. The older generation chose the Caribbean, the Middle East, Oceania, to migrate to join their children in the UK and even the UK and the US. Many are

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and Canada. Nonetheless there has been a fresh influx of Indians to fill the place of those who emigrated to the UK and Canada increasing the current numbers to 100,000. These are mainly migrants from India whom the veteran Kenyan Indians call ‘rockets’ in a derogatory manner. Only a few countries have assimilated Indian populations locally but despite this tensions and clashes between communities still happen in countries like Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, South Africa, Trinidad and Mauritius. There is a spirited fight in Kenya by Indians, particularly, the Sikh community, to be considered as a Kenyan“tribe”. The subject is being hotly debated, and so far, only lip service is offered from government authorities. It seems that the expulsion of Asians from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo have now lost their impact and now a similar threat by Zimbabwe Government ministers hangs like a sword over the heads of longsettled Indians. Sadly, as recent history show Indian descendants have borne the brunt of violence, murders and rapes in Afghanistan, their home for several centuries. For one, these Indians have refused to accept they are Indians despite their language, cultural, religious and culinary connections, preferring to call themselves Afghans. In its heydey, in the 1800s there were more than 300,000 Indians in Afghanistan but constant religious persecution, attacks, murders, rapes and pillages forced thousands of families to flee. Today there are less than 1,000 left in Kabul and Jalalabad as they have no money to migrate abroad. The Pews report’s author Philip Connor noted that if all the world’s 244 million international migrants, including Indians living abroad, lived in a single country, it would be the world’s fifth largest nation! Shamlal Puri, TII’s Contributing Editor in London, is an award-winning veteran British journalist, broadcaster, author and press photographer. He has worked with the media in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. His novels ‘Dubai on Wheels: The Slippery Road to Success’ and ‘Triangle of Terror’ (Diamond Books) are acclaimed bestsellers. His latest ‘The Illegals’ (Crownbird Publishers) is on sale. He has travelled to more than 100 countries in an illustrious journalistic career spanning over 40 years. His work has been published in more than 250 magazines, newspapers and journals around the world. Follow him on Twitter @shamlalpuri


HERITAGE

1) Red fort, Delhi

Pass on Your Heritage:

India’s Top 10 Sites to Remember The UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India are a source of pride to every Indian not just because they are aesthetic marvels but also because of their connection to our cultural heritage and history. TII presents the top 10 all NRI parents should pass on to their children. By Khursheed Dinshaw

2) Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra Ajanta is known for its awe inspiring paintings and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list 34 years ago. The rock cut caves of Ajanta are located in a gorge which has the shape of a horse shoe and have been excavated in two phases. In the first phase, Buddha was worshipped through the medium of symbols. Some of these symbols which can be seen inside the caves include footprints of Buddha, the Bodhi tree and Stupas. In the second phase, Buddha began to be worshipped through his physical being. Perhaps one of the best examples of Buddhist architecture, besides the paintings

The red sandstone sourced from Fatehpur Sikri gives this monument its name – Red Fort. Started by Shah Jahan, it took nine years to construct. It is believed that Shah Jahan shifted the capital to Delhi from Agra because of the excessive summer heat of Agra, it crowds and the Agra Fort not being large enough for his army. Some say that Shah Jahan needed a new city to build and Red Fort became the citadel of the emperor’s new town called Shahjahanabad. The Red Fort is believed to surpass the Kremlin at Moscow, the Tower of London and the citadel at Toledo in terms of strength and beauty. It remained the centre of Mughal power until the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Jafar’s dethronement. It was here that the national flag was hoisted for the first time on India’s Independence on 15th August 1947. Some of the must visit structures of the fort include Lahore Gate, Delhi Gate, Chhatta Bazaar, Naubat Khana, Diwan-e-Aam, Mumtaz Mahal, Rang Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-e-Khas, Hammam, Moti Masjid, Hira Mahal, Hayat Baksh Bagh, Sawan and Bhadon and Shah Burj.

there are sculptures and architectural features as well. There are shrines paying tribute to Buddha and monasteries where Buddhist monks meditated and learned. The paintings portray various anecdotes from the life of Buddha and from the Jataka Tales. Besides the symbolic representations of Buddha, celestial beings, birds, animals and geometrical designs adorn the walls and ceilings of these caves. For a panoramic view of Ajanta caves, visit the Ajanta view point which is the exact location from where they were spotted in 1819 by John Smith the British officer who chanced upon the caves. According to historical records, the Ajanta caves were inhabited for almost 700 years and then faded into obscurity.

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HERITAGE

5) Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

3) Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh A dream in marble, paradise on earth and a symbol of conjugal love are just some of the descriptions of the Taj Mahal. No building has been written about, photographed and drawn more often than the Taj.Yet in reality, no words or photos can express the richness of its ornamentation, perfection of form and intricacy of decoration. Shah Jahan wanted it to be one of the wonders of the world and spared no effort in his undertaking. The finest resources, architects and artists of India, Persia, Arabia and Central Asia were utilized. It was Ustad Isa who designed the Taj Mahal, he was either a Persian from Shiraj, or as others argue a Byzantine Turk. But no one argues about the exquisite beauty of his work. A truly international effort went into the making of the Taj, with masons from Baghdad, Delhi and Multan. Turkey and Samarkand provided the dome builders. Kanauj and Baghdad supplied the mosaic workers while the calligraphists came from Shiraj. Not just the manpower, even the materials were sourced from all over the world. The marble came from Jaipur, red sandstone from Fatehpur Sikri, jasper from Punjab, jade from China, Tibet supplied turquoise, Sri Lanka the lapis lazuli and sapphires. Coral and cornelian came from Arabia, onyx and amethyst from Persia, while Panna in Bundelkhand provided the diamonds.

4) Jantar Mantar, Rajasthan Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II was known for his interest in astronomy and built a stone observatory named Jantar Mantar in Jaipur. Jantar Mantar was constructed between 1728 and 1734. Built in an open courtyard, it has astronomical instruments made of lime plaster, marble, stone and metal for observing the movement of the sun, moon, stars and other celestial bodies. It is located at the South eastern side of the City Palace and is termed as the last of its kind in Stone Age astronomy. One can find replicas of gnomons, astrolabes and other sextants which are made of copper and bronze at Jantar Mantar. Jai Singh was fascinated with the study of the stars and followed it up with

102 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

mathematical genius and indepth research on the subject. The instruments were based on laws of geometry and atmospheric conditions were also taken into account when they were built. With the help of these instruments time was determined. The movement of planets and their visibility was also observed more accurately. The biggest instrument at Jantar Mantar is Vrihat Samrat Yantra or supreme instrument and was created to record equal hours. It is believed to be the biggest sundial in the world and can give time to an accuracy of 2 seconds. It is a 90 feet high and 147 feet long sun dial. Other noteworthy instruments of the observatory include Jai Prakash Yantra, Ram Yantra, Digamsa, Nadivalaya,Yantra Raj and Unnatamsa.

The naturally formed rock shelters and caves of Bhimbetka have a number of interesting paintings which exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. The Stone Age rock paintings can be seen on the walls, ceilings and hollows and date back to the Mesolithic period. Bhimbetka rises over 100 metres above the Deccan traps amidst the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary. It comprises of a hill range which has been formed from sandstone. The painted rock shelters run east west for a length of more than 8 kms. Mythologically the word Bhimbetka is said to be derived from Bhimbaithaka which refers to the seat of Bhima, one of the five Pandavas of the epic Mahabharata. A majority of the paintings are in red and white and made using mineral colours. One of the caves is known as Auditorium due to its long shape measuring 39 metres in length and 70 metres high. The painting composition here displays bulls, buffaloes, deer, antelopes, peacocks, tigers and a left hand print of a child. Auditorium also has some cupules that have been made in the rock. These cupules are considered by some scholars as man’s earliest manifestation of creativity. Shelter 4 is elaborately painted and is known as Zoorock. It comprises of 252 painted animals of 16 different species. Another shelter which is shaped like a mushroom is called boar rock because of a gigantic boar which has been painted on its surface.


HERITAGE

8) Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Madhya Pradesh

6) Ellora Caves, Maharashtra Ellora Caves are famous for their sculptures and carvings and included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in the year 1983. The caves here are 34 in number and apart from Buddhist also include Jain and Hindu temples. They are hence a beautiful example carved in stone of the message of tolerance and harmony in those days. Of all the caves the most amazing is Cave 16 which houses the Kailasa Temple and is dedicated to the deity Shiva. This is believed to be the largest monolith temple structure in the world. Caved in a single rock, the intricacy of detail and fine finesse of the work done is truly a sight to behold. The Jain caves are dedicated to Mahavira and the Tirthankaras. The Buddhist caves belong to 200 BC to 600 AD.

7) Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), West Bengal Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) is a pioneering example of an efficient and ingenious hill passenger railway. It was started in 1881 and it commendable that not only is it fully operational but it still preserves many of its original features. It has 13 stations and Ghoom is the highest station of India. It is situated at 7407 ft. above sea level. DHR doesn’t have a fixed signal from Sukna to Darjeeling and trains are controlled by hand signal. It has a total length of 87.48 kms and when it was introduced had C and A class locomotives. Today even B class locomotives are

operational. The ride in its toy train as it chugs through picturesque landscape is another popular highlight of Darjeeling. While in Darjeeling don’t miss Batasia Loop which is an engineering marvel in itself. The purpose of the loop is to help DHR to climb the steep gradients. It is constructed in such a way that the railway track circles round and crosses over itself gaining the required height to chug on the severe gradients. The loop was damaged when an earthquake hit this region in 1934 due to which a temporary zig- zag was built. The Gorkha War Memorial pays tribute to the brave martyred soldiers of this area and is encircled by the Batasia Loop.

Khajuraho was the cultural capital of the Chandela rulers of the 10th century and even today is a place that pays homage to artistic talent. There was no mechanization involved in the labour intensive process where the artists hand sculpted slabs of stone into medieval sculptures depicting gods, Demi gods, nymphs, other celestial beings, humans and animals. Several thousand statues and iconographic carvings can be seen in the temples of Khajuraho. These stone temples are known for their mature temple architecture steeped in eroticism. Of the 85 richly carved temples built more than a thousand years ago, 22 have survived the test of time. The word Khajuraho is derived from the Sanskrit word of Kharjuravahaka where Kharjura referred to date palm and Vahaka meant the carrier. It is believed that two imposing date palm trees formed the gate to entering the temple complex. Kharjur referred to scorpion in the local language of Bundelkhandi. Another derivation comes from the scorpions in the garland of the deity Shiva while yet another philosophy states that it represented women who bore the scorpion shape on their thigh. The prominent temples include the Varaha Temple, Chaturbhuja Temple, Duladeo Temple, Jagadambi Temple, Kandariya Mahadev Temple and Lakshmana Temple.

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 103


HERITAGE

9) Rani ki Vav, Gujarat Rani ki Vav which translates in to the queen’s step well is huge. Nearly 220 feet long from east to west, it was originally 7 storeyed and has stepped corridor compartments at regular intervals that are pillared by multi-storeyed pavilions. Queen Udayamati built it in the latter part of the 11th century in memory of her husband, King Bhimdev I. This memorial step well was meant to impart merit for the departed king. An architectural heritage, Rani ki Vav has been decorated with hundreds of intricate sculptures of gods, goddesses and other divine beings. These include Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Brahma, Goddess Parvati and Kali. Nymphs and sadhus are also finely sculpted on all the walls including the side walls of the corridor and the inner wall of the circular well. The Rani ki Vav physically transforms mud, stone and water to depict Udyamati’s spiritual beliefs and feelings. But the question of why would the queen built a step well when she could have opted for a grander monument does come to mind. The answer lies in the fact that in Gujarat, water is a prized commodity as there is less rainfall with a low water table making the region dry. In such a scenario, over a period of time, the simple village well and pond evolved into a grander form of architecture namely the step well. Rani ki Vav is truly one of the grandest and oldest step wells of Gujarat. There are many sculptures of Parvati and the one of her performing the ‘penance by the five fires’ depicts the legend of her penance of self mortification. Parvati who was born as Sati, the daughter of Daksha went against her parents’ wishes and married god Shiva, who with his matted hair, snakes around his neck and

habit of visiting cremation grounds for meditation was not considered an appropriate match for Sati by her father. It was during a vedic yagna that Daksha was performing that Sati arrived uninvited, was given a hostile welcome and insulted by him. Unable to bear this insult she denounced her father by jumping into the sacrificial fire. She was reborn as the daughter of Himalaya and had to perform the severe penance of the five fires to be reunited with Shiva. Historians draw a parallel here between goddess

10) Churches and Convents of Goa

Parvati and Queen Udayamati. While Parvati performed penance to bridge the gap between her and Shiva, Queen Udayamati undertook the building of Rani ki Vav to bridge the gap that had been created by death between her and her deceased husband. Don’t miss the sculpture of goddess Kali and the one of Kalki. Kalki is said to be an avatar of Vishnu yet to be born. At the step well, Kalki is shown seated on a horse holding a bowl containing alcohol. One is awed not just by the enormity, majesty and alluring architecture of the step well but also the love and emotions behind its creation.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus

The UNESCO World Heritage Churches and Convents of Goa are located in Old Goa. Of these the most revered is the Basilica of Bom Jesus which contains the tomb where the relics of St. Francis Xavier are placed. The construction of this church was started in the year 1594 and it was consecrated in the year 1605. Bom Jesus means good or infant Jesus. At the top of the facade, there are the letters IHS which represent the first three letters of Jesus in Greek. The others are St. Catherine’s Chapel, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Se Cathedral, Church of St. Cajetan, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Church of Saint Augustine. Khursheed Dinshaw is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer based in India. 104 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017


HUMOUR

You Can’t Buy Love, But You Can Buy ‘Like’ By Melvin Durai

I

don’t know about you, but when I post something on Facebook, I sometimes get only one or two ‘likes’ – and they’re usually from the same people: my mom and my wife. Okay, that’s not completely true. My wife likes me in real life, but doesn’t really‘like’me on Facebook. Or is it the other way around? I’m not sure. All I know is that I can’t always count on a‘like’from her. As for my mom, she isn’t on Facebook a lot, and when she is, it’s usually to look at pictures that her friends have posted, and perhaps read a message from me:“Mom, I just posted something on my wall. Please‘like’it.” She immediately responds: “I loved it!” Me:“No, Mom, I don’t want you to love it. I want you to ‘like’ it.” Mom: “What is wrong with the world today that people don’t want love, only like?”

It’s certainly a different world than the world she grew up in. There was no Facebook and Twitter in those days, of course. There was no way to count how many people liked you – and if you happened to have a lot of followers, you put ‘Guru’ or ‘Swami’ in front of your name. Nowadays, if you want to be ‘somebody’ on the Internet, you’d better have thousands of ‘likes’ and even more followers. And if you’re a real celebrity – or want to look like one – you’d better have a million followers or more. So what should you do if you don’t have enough ‘likes’ or followers? Should you badger your mom and wife to keep retweeting your tweets? No, not if you have a few bucks to spare and don’t mind having lots of friends and followers in Bangladesh. As the Associated Press reported recently,

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is an “international hub of click farms.”A click farm is a place where people are employed to do nothing but click. Using numerous accounts and network servers, they will ‘like’ you, follow you, friend you. Their job is to make companies and individuals look popular. And it doesn’t cost that much, as I found out when I made a call to Dhaka. “ClicksRus. May I help you?” “Yes, can you tell me what services you provide?” “All services. You want followers? We can follow you. You want ‘likes’? We can ‘like’ you. You want YouTube views? We can view you. We are a one-stop Internet popularity company.” “How much are your ‘likes’ going for?” “Five hundred ‘likes’ for $1. All fully guaranteed. Money back if you don’t like our ‘likes.’” “What about Twitter followers?” “For only $10, we can give you 1,000 Twitter followers. And for $1,000, we can make you a celebrity.” “Just $1,000 to be a celebrity? Wow, I love it. Wait till I tell my wife that she doesn’t have to follow me anymore! What about Facebook friends?” “For $100, we can give you 1,000 friends. That’s only 10 cents per friend.” “Holy Kaká, I love Dhaka! Not since my college days have I had friends so cheap. Please tell me more. What will these friends be like?” “We can supply any kind of friend. White friend, black friend, brown friend. Straight friend, gay friend, bi-sexual friend.” “I don’t care about the color of my friends or their sexual orientation. I just want them to ‘like’ everything I post. Can you do that?” “Oh yes, we can do that. If you have enough money, we can make you the most popular person on Facebook.” “Even more popular than Justin Bieber? He has more than 60 million ‘likes,’ you know.” “Of course, I know. We ‘like’ him a lot in Dhaka.” Melvin Durai is an Illinois based writer and humorist, author of the humorist novel ‘ Bala Takes The Plunge.’ A native of India, he grew up in Zambia and has lived in North America since the early 1980s. Melvin Durai is an Illinois based writer and humorist, author of the humorist novel ‘ Bala Takes The Plunge.’ A native of India, he grew up in Zambia and has lived in North America since the early 1980s.

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 105


Vadassery family L-R Joshua, Anne-Marie, Prem and Jonathan

Third Culture Kids:

Best of East and West By Frank Raj

Many expatriate parents are probably unaware of the fact that their children growing up overseas qualify as ‘Third Culture Kids,’ an interesting field of study that is becoming increasingly relevant as families navigate the globe for work and business opportunities. In a broader sense, the term would also apply to children whose parents maybe from two different countries, a trend that is increasing as the world is shrinking. 106 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

O

ne of the most fascinating things especially for expatriate parents is to see our children being transformed into quite different individuals from ourselves because of the many influences they are exposed to, and to observe how they acquire the best of an international experience. Especially in the many cosmopolitan cities of the world, our open-minded youngsters turn out to be quite remarkable growing up in places like Dubai or studying in the US, Canada, UK, Australia etc. It brings out the best in them. But the international experience can also be homegrown and part of the family when one parent is not an Indian. What is the exposure for children in such a home? What is different about such children? What are their food, fashion and language preferences? Who exercises greater influence – the Indian parent or the“foreign one”? Which culture do the kids take to? What do their parents want for them? Will the country they feel most drawn


THIRD CULTURE KIDS

to be the same as their“passport country“? Will they balance their love for both countries of origin or grow up to love only one? If two religions are involved, how do parents manage and explain matters of faith? Which country will the parents eventually choose to live in? What factors will govern that decision? The questions being so many, can the answers deal with all of them adequately? The term ‘Third Culture Kids’ – ‘TCK’ for short, was coined 40 years ago by Ruth Hill Useem in her research on North American children living in India. TCK refers to children who have spent a significant period of time in one or more culture (s) other than their own, integrating cultural elements of the host cultures and the culture they were born into, uniquely into a third culture. Writers like Useem and others conclude that because of the lack of understanding the special needs of these children, many TCK’s merely cope – rather than comfortably adjust to the situation. They are both“connected”and “disconnected”from the unique circumstances they find themselves living in. Because they are brought up in a different culture or several cultures, the assumption is that their sense of belonging to only one culture is nonexistent. Many parents have had positive parenting experiences in raising their kids away from the culture their parents were born into and are delighted at the way the children turned out in a multi-cultural environment. Manoj and Lekha Nair, long time residents in the Gulf, feel that,“Raising our daughter Meghna in Dubai exposed her to a multicultural environment, and an international experience which has been so good for her. Meghna has developed a global outlook and overcome the hindrances of religion and race. One of the keys to success in any student’s life is education, and in Dubai, schools have devised interactive and creative measures to make classrooms come alive. The teaching faculty often takes teaching to a different level as students are encouraged to go beyond the four walls of a classroom. “In India, a country with one of the highest literacy rates, most students develop a confined and traditional mindset in their education. In this regard Meghna’s upbringing has been stress free as opposed to the challenges we would have faced in India.” Anne-Marie Vadassery, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon and brought up in the Netherlands, Malaysia & Kuwait is a third culture kid herself, so she was already

Anjali and Bernard Gonsalvez with their son Nikhil

accustomed to“not quite fitting in anywhere” when her two sons Jonathan and Joshua were born abroad.“Yet, while I knew the sting of not growing up within the culture I was supposed to represent, I also knew that every part of me would revolt if put into the confines of a monoculture. Into this worldview entered two sons to raise, and my beliefs have only been reinforced. As a parent, I am supportive of their open-mindedness and acceptance of people that look, act and think differently from them and they do not bat an eyelid at what is their normal. “I have loved watching my boys grow into young men that value people for the character they have, and not the background they come from. Nothing beats listening to them not taking themselves too seriously as they laugh away at their own foibles, rather than the cultural oddities of friends and newer acquaintances. Yet again I think, TCKs have it the best- so many pluses, too few minuses to play it any differently. No assumptions, no divides, no drama. All I see at our home are a gaggle of teen boys hanging out together, attuned to deciphering varied accents, happy to sample fare from an unfamiliar kitchen- always ready to include the next shade of colour that comes along.”

Anjali and Bernard Gonsalvez in Toronto, Canada are very happy with their experience of raising their son Nikhil overseas. “It has indeed been a wonderful and fulfilling experience for him to grow up with a rich multi-cultural mix of kids that live and let live with tolerance and respect for each other. The school system in Canada is relatively free and Nikhil grew up comfortably in a bi-lingual atmosphere. He had an excellent quality of life, studies, sports and lots of hockey and a junior rank as a Royal Canadian Air Force Cadet. “In Canada the individual matters more than the institution and kids grow up competing to become better and not engage in a crazy rat-race to become ‘gainfully employed’. Exposure to different cultures, clean, hygienic surroundings, great medical care, and an atmosphere of great respect for humanity makes us parents feel this was indeed the“best decision”of our life!” Like other Indian NRI parents whose children have married overseas mates, my wife and I enjoy a vantage point on this issue. Our two married daughters have experienced life in the US, India, and the Middle East with their love of travel further widening their horizons. We are the proud grandparents of

THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017 107


THIRD CULTURE KIDS

The Nairs-Manoj and Lekha with Meghna (middle)

Our grandkids-Rivkah Supriya, Tirzah Sanjana and David Satyajit Parker

three Indo-Canadian-American children – Rivkah Supriya, Tirzah Sanjana and David Satyajit Parker, whose upbringing in Dubai we were privileged to share for many years before they moved back to the U.S. “Third Culture Kids” for most of their lives, both our daughters opted to marry nonIndian spouses making the international experience permanent in their lives and ours. But the “cultural milkshake”for them really began even before they were born, because their parents connected two different cultures in India itself when my wife and I got married four and a half decades ago. My wife is from Goa, I am a South Indian, and we both grew up in New Delhi. Our daughters for the most part lived in Dubai and briefly in Los Angeles with a short stint in India.

108 THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEAR BOOK 2017

But mingling different cultures in my family began long before my generation, probably with my maternal grandfather Anantha Krishna Iyer from Palaghat, Kerala, who was a rubber planter in Malaya in the 1940s. Another multicultural overseas link in the family tree is my oldest brother Vincent’s Italian-American family in California. Living abroad I didn’t have to worry about my daughters being “overqualified”to the extent of intimidating potential spouses if we had to“arrange”their marriage. They were free to discover the career of their choice and pursue their labor of love. And knowing the beliefs and values they were raised with, they were empowered to choose their own life-mates. In their personal choices and freedoms they had no baggage to carry

unlike the hang-ups thrust on their parents in the considerably feudal environment we grew up with in the India of our days. My wife and I share a common faith, but on reflection I realize that probably the most significant change in our family moving abroad was our getting away from institutionalized religious beliefs, which may not have happened had we remained in India – trapped in the secure embrace of the clergy. Away from the great Indian rat race, most of us seem to thrive, especially our children who thrill us with their academic and vocational achievements. It is a joy just to watch them make friends from different places, experiment with intriguing accents, clothes, food etc., as they adapt and grow in a land neither of their parents can claim as their own. Raising kids in environments that provide such delightful returns is obviously a major advantage for all expatriate families. Most parents try hard to help kids acquire a sense of belonging and retain their heritage. They go the extra mile to ensure that their kids know who they are by maintaining food habits, religious customs, cultural events, visiting India, organizing holidays with family, using the media creatively etc. Besides, in today’s global village with Skype, email, What’s App etc., maintaining ties with India or anywhere else is much easier to do than was earlier possible. Kids, who acquire at least a basic working knowledge of their language and awareness of traditions, dress habits, cuisine, etc., are bound to be more confident about their origins and themselves, especially when interacting with their peers. Strong family relationships are probably the key factor in any situation, but so are the attractions of childhood memories, cultural preferences and identity, the fascination of India, the versatility of Indian food, ethnic fashions, and the incredible changes happening in the country today – India is becoming increasingly hard to ignore! Which NRI parent today is not secretly wishing that soon the country may become as attractive as any other that lures us in the hope of a better life? I don’t think my kids are disconnected with India much more than I maybe, having lived outside the country since 1970. I put in a lot of effort to stay connected, the only question is how much will they put in and how effectively will they be able to pass on their Indian inheritance to their next generation. Frank Raj is TII’s founding editor


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YOUR FAMILY CLINIC

The most acclaimed HEALTH & LIFESTYLE magazine in the region

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KHALIFA PORT FREE TRADE ZONE

THE FUTURE OF TRADE IS HERE A new Free Trade Zone is emerging. The Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone in KIZAD spans 100 square kilometres of prime industrial real estate. Representing 25% of the total land mass of KIZAD, the new Free Zone is in the heart of our integrated offering of industrial clusters at the doorstep of the technologically advanced Khalifa Port. It is the most sought after industrial address in the UAE due to its highly competitive leasing rates, dedicated customer support and world-class multi-modal transport infrastructure that provides outstanding access to local, regional and international markets through its existing sea, air, road and future rail infrastructure. Join the portfolio of investment sectors doing business in the largest industrial zone in the region, and now with access to Free Zone land, this is indeed the Future of Trade.

This is the Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone.

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Profile for Jason Verhoven

INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEARBOOK 2017  

Indians, expats, diaspora, NRI, Indians abroad, oversees Indians, Bollywood, best travel in India, great Indian traveler, Indian cuisine, In...

INTERNATIONAL INDIAN YEARBOOK 2017  

Indians, expats, diaspora, NRI, Indians abroad, oversees Indians, Bollywood, best travel in India, great Indian traveler, Indian cuisine, In...

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