For The Love of Dubai - International Indian



For The Love of Dubai - International Indian
Winning in Diaspora!
2014• ISSUE 1| VOL. 21.1
Jan 16, 2014 - Mar 16, 2014
For The Love of Dubai
Orun Palit’s Diaspora
Love Story
in Europe
Start a Small
Business in 2014!
What is it
People Don’t
Like About
Is Your Bank
Cheating You?
Seven Days in
BAHRAIN BD 1.25 • KUWAIT KD 1.25 • OMAN RO 1.25 • KSA SR 12.00 • UAE AED 12.00 • CANADA C$ 5.00 • UK £2.50 • USA $ 4.00
Corbett vs Masai Mara
You article ‘Corbett Adventure: The Tiger or the Treat’ was very useful and
interesting. Such expensive vacations need to be carefully studied in order to
assess if it’s worth it. It is better to go to Kenya or Tanzania where you have a
good chance of seeing the ‘Big 5’ rather than go on an Indian tiger safari vainly
hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive beast.
It is a sad indictment on our corrupt country where even the Bengal Tiger,
our most magnificent animal is vulnerable to corrupt officials who are mostly
responsible for the slaughter and poaching that goes on. In 2013, eight tigers
were killed by poachers in Corbett, no wonder you couldn’t see any!
Harpreet Sindhu
Abu Dhabi
Kudos to Arvind Kejriwal
Kudos to Arvind Kejriwal for his Aam Aadmi Party’s performance in Delhi, but
despite the amazing victory it won’t be easy in the Lok Sabha elections.
Parliamentary polls are spread out over large constituencies and require
massive money power and human resources. After exposing several corrupt
corporates, funding from business houses will not be easy to find—or accept.
But the major challenge unlike in urban Delhi, is religious, caste, and
language barriers, the party must face, which are a political reality in the rest
of the country. AAP has to find a niche for itself beyond corruption if it is not to
be quickly labelled as a one-trick pony.
Local issues aside, how will AAP transcend its Delhi-centric victory?
Nonetheless if AAP can truly usher in the changes it promises India may see
a new era in politics.
Jeevan Narain
Diplomatic war: India vs America
What would happen to you or me if we got caught lying on our visa application?
India reacted sharply to the arrest of Deputy Consul General Devyani
Khobragade, who was humiliated in New York on visa fraud charges recently.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoned US Ambassador Nancy Powell
and issued a demarche in this regard. In retaliation India stripped US diplomats
and their families of privileges including withdrawing all airport passes and
stopping import clearances for the embassy.
All U.S. Consulate personnel and their families were asked to turn in their ID
cards, and the Indian government also sought key information such as salaries
paid to all Indian staff employed at the consulates and by Consulate officers
and families including as domestic helps.
These will now be downgraded on par with what the US provides to Indian
Consulates in the U.S.
Apart from these measures, the Government of India stopped all import
clearances for the US embassy for liquor etc. Traffic barricades near the
US embassy on Nyaya Marg were removed, diminishing security for the
Americans in Delhi.
The BJP’s Yashwant Sinha pointed out that after the recent Indian Supreme
Court ruling it is illegal in India to have same sex companions, just as paying
less wages is illegal in the US. He recommended that the Government of India
arrest all same sex companions of US diplomats in India.
But nobody questioned why after Edward Snowden leaked top-secret
documents about how India was one of the biggest targets of American
spying, our foreign office pretended there was no problem!
Farah Patwardhan
Email your letters to: [email protected]
EST: 1992 The Region’s Oldest,
Authoritative Magazine of Gulf Indian Society & History
ISSN 0964 8437
Prof. Prabhu Guptara
Santosh Shetty
Founder Editor & Publisher
Frank Raj
Contributing Editors
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Prem Souri Kishore
Benjamin H. Parker
Vishal Mangalwadi
Shamlal Puri
Travel Editor
Shana Raj Parker
Manager PR
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Benjamin H. Parker
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Rudy Otter
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Prem Souri Kishore
Middle East Hemu Gorde
Bandana Jain
Deepa Ballal
South Africa
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Frank Raj
Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers. - Aristotle
There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.
- Alexis de Tocqueville
am waiting for an early
morning flight at Chennai’s new
international airport, built at a
cost of about 2,000 crore rupees.
It is impressive from the outside,
but inside the shoddy maintenance
is shocking, with filthy carpets and
dirty bathrooms.
I wonder if an Indian political
renaissance is in the making – with
‘Aam Aadmi-ism,’ a new ideology
that is all the rage in the country
today because of Arvind Kejriwal,
rookie Chief Minister of New Delhi.
AAP’s vision is to realise the
dream of Swaraj that Gandhiji
had envisaged for a free India is
something that the Nehru-Gandhis
or the BJP could have done long
before Kejriwal arrived on the
Chennai is a good place to
consider Indian ideologies; few
Indian states have succeeded in
developing an entrenched homegrown populist philosophy like
the Dravidian parties AIADMK
and DMK. The ideas of Periyar,
Annadurai and MGR found an
enduring home in Tamilnadu –
whether they have truly served the
people of the state is debatable.
But the fact is the Communists
couldn’t hold on to Kerala or
Bengal, Sikh separatists didn’t
succeed in Punjab, the Nagas gave
up in Nagaland and the Naxals are
still at war in various states.
I would wager that ‘Religionism,’
is India’s dominating ideology.
People are enthralled by some
‘ism’ or the other– no exceptions.
Whether the BJP’s proactive
saffronism will snatch power from
Congress secularism will soon
be known. But every ‘ism ‘ is an
ideology operating for power and
gain in small and big ways. Since
you can’t have real conviction in an
‘ism,’ instead of genuine belief there
is mass nationwide delusion.
Religionism is easily used
to manipulate all the ‘sheeple,’
regardless of who they are.
Perry Anderson, author of
The Indian Ideology, a respected
Marxist scholar at UCLA makes
an interesting observation about
the left in India, “The fundamental
reason for the relative political
weakness of the Indian left…..lay
in the fusion of nation with religion
in the struggle for independence.
Wherever this occurred – Ireland
where I grew up is a signal case,
the terrain was adverse for the left
from the start. In the subcontinent
that was always, as it has remained
the underlying sociological reality.”
Reviewing his book Arundhati
Roy writes, “Perry Anderson brings
together a set of arguments that
will be received with disquiet by
the scholars and ideologues who
have constructed a celebratory,
self-righteous consensus about the
Indian Republic. Instead of writing
off the unspeakable violence and
egregious injustice in our society
as aberrations in an otherwise
successful model, Anderson points
to serious structural flaws and the
deep seated social prejudices of
those who have administered the
Indian State in the decades since
One could argue that the fusion
of nation and religion is responsible
not just for the impotence of the
left, it has led the entire country up
the garden path. Gandhiji’s sincerity
in believing, “My struggle is not
merely political. It is religious and
therefore quite pure,” was a short
lived legacy that ended with his
Katherine Tidrick in her
controversial biography, Gandhi:
A Political and Spiritual Life,
calls Gandhi, “the greatest Indian
godman of them all.” Since then
India’s religion-centric mentality of
politics has been accepting many
wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are
not the pious pundits they appear
or claim to be but predators adept
at controlling and conniving.
I often think that Tagore’s
prayer: “Into that heaven of freedom
my Father, let my country awake,”
was for Indians to escape from all
the ‘isms’ that keep us in bondage.
I’d given up on the capita for
its goondagiri and corruption. Now
maybe there’s hope for Delhi-ites
to reconsider our city’s worth – if
the Aam Aadmi Party stays clean,
committed and in power.
Frank Raj
Founder-Editor & Publisher
[email protected]
The International Indian
Frank Raj
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TII 21.1
04 Letters to the Editor
05 Editorial
08 Expo 2020: For the Love of Dubai
by Peyman Pejman
14 Seven Days In Singapore!
And You’ll Want More!
by Frank Raj
20 Dr Shamsheer Vayalil Parambath:
A Remarkable Journey of Success.
by Armenia Fernandes
36 Sarosh Zaiwalla
Journey To The Top in UK Law
by Shamlal Puri
30 Start a Small Biz in 2014
Choose From Any One of these 10!
by Balan Iyer
34 ‘My Mom’s Beauty Salon’
by Ruqya Khan
22 A Diaspora Love Story:
Meet Dr. Orun Palit – Private Swiss
by Frank Raj
26 The Oldest Malayali in Europe:
Jacob Matthan
by Prabhu Guptara
44 A Family in Every Country
by Anita Thomas
70 What Is It People Don’t Like
About Indians?
by Deepa Ballal
40 Anglo-Indians: Home Sweet
by Rudy Otter
48 Elections 2014
by Bandana Jain
52 Areas To Watch For Investments
In 2014
by Surabhi Arora
58 Is Your Bank Cheating You?
Mangelal Sharma’s Experience
by Deven Kanal & Mohan Sivanand
54 Great Educational Expectation
by Feby Imthias
64 Deepika Padukone:
Why is she called a hero?
by Rajiv Vijayakar
67 Lessons From Nelson Mandela
by Melvin Durai
46 Guptara Garmagaram
Upsetting India
by Prabhu Guptara
68 TII Hall of Fame
76 Expats in Hyderabad
by Shyamola Khanna
78 Winning In Diaspora! is TII’s New
by Frank Raj
68 TII Photo Competition
Peyman Pejman
Expo 2020
For The Love of Dubai
“You only deserve the first,
the best and the biggest
if you have confidence
in yourselves and your
capabilities to take on
challenges … In the UAE
we overcame poverty and
illiteracy over the past 40
years because we have
confidence in ourselves
and in our citizens who
have turned our barren
desert into a modern
state … If we look at our
recent past, it reminds us
of the founding fathers of
this modern state, the late
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan
Al Nahyan.”
- Ruler of Dubai, UAE
Vice President and Prime
Minister His Highness
Sheikh Mohammed bin
Rashid Al Maktoum
ubai’s successful bid to host
the World Expo 2020 was
cheered in the four corners
of the country. Fireworks and
incessant lights illuminated the night
sky, symbolizing the city’s brighter
economic days in the coming years.
And for a good reason, too.
Benefits will be immense. It is
expected that preparations for
hosting the six-month event will
produce an estimated 270,000
jobs, much of it in the construction,
trade, tourism, and hospitality
sectors. At least 25 million – some
estimates say 100 million – visitors
could arrive in Dubai in the period
The Metro has transformed Dubai
leading to and during the expo.
The government has already
announced that it plans to spend
as much as $9 billion for the
event, nearly $7 billion of that in
capital investment on infrastructure
projects. Expenses are expected to
be offset by predictions that Dubai’s
economy will receive an added
value boost of roughly $24 billion.
By 2020, expo-related activities
are expected to add 2% to Dubai’s
The site for World Expo 2020
Dubai will be Dubai Trade Center –
Jebel Ali, a 438 hectare site close
to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, capable
of producing enough solar power
to cater for 50 percent of its power
Even before Dubai’s bid was
accepted, the city had started
benefiting from the ripple effects in
the real estate market. The World
Expo 2020 will add significantly
to the city’s housing needs, even
though as many as 45,000 units are
expected to come on line in the next
two years. After the slump caused
by the 2007-2008 economic
slowdown, the real estate market
has recently picked up again.
Dubai’s Land Department’s semiannual report said Indians were the
top foreign investors in Dubai’s real
estate market, pouring in more than
$2.1 billion during the first half of
Dubai did not win World Expo
2020 out of the blue. Over the
years, the city has established itself
as a place expatriates love to visit
and live in. Why?
One main reason is that the
leadership of Dubai aspires to the
same standards for which foreigners
come to Dubai.
In a speech at the 3rd Annual
Global Entrepreneurship Summit
in Dubai, Ruler of Dubai, UAE
Vice President and Prime Minister
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed
bin Rashid Al Maktoum told the
audience: “You only deserve the
first, the best and the biggest if
you have confidence in yourselves
and your capabilities to take on
challenges … In the UAE we
overcame poverty and illiteracy over
the past 40 years because we have
And that’s not just talk. Dubai‘s leaders
have, proverbially speaking, put their
money where their mouth is. So much
so that Dubai’s population, estimated at
around 2 million, has grown by 44,000 in
less than six months this year. But perhaps
more tellingly, the population of the city
grows by 1 million during the day because
of its conducive business environment,
attracting skilled professionals and
unskilled labour from other emirates.
confidence in ourselves and in our
citizens who have turned our barren
desert into a modern state … If we
look at our recent past, it reminds
us of the founding fathers of this
modern state, the late Sheikh Zayed
bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”
And that’s not just talk. Dubai‘s
leaders have, proverbially speaking,
put their money where their mouth is.
So much so that Dubai’s population,
estimated at around 2 million, has
grown by 44,000 in less than six
months this year. But perhaps more
tellingly, the population of the city
grows by 1 million during the day
because of its conducive business
professionals and unskilled labour
from other emirates.
If any proof was needed of the
fact that Dubai has made it easier
for people who want to succeed,
one need not look any further than
the Indian community in the United
Arab Emirates especially in Dubai.
They are by far the largest single
minority in the UAE and generations
of Indians not only call Dubai home
but have also made themselves
successful members of the society,
and contributed greatly to the city.
There are several reasons
why Dubai remains a sought-after
Many countries around the world
still suffer high unemployment
rates. Nearly 27 million people
were jobless across the European
Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)
Union. The United States still
suffers from an unemployment
rate of above 7% and, according
to India’s Annual Employment &
Unemployment Survey report for
2012-13 released by the Labour
Bureau under the Union Ministry
of Labour and Employment, the
stands at 4.7%. In a recent poll,
83% of respondents in the UK,
65% in the US, 76% in Egypt, and
61% in Russia – all countries from
which Dubai attracts heavily – said
they see the economic situation in
their country as “bad.” In the face
of those realities, Dubai continues
to grow, even after what turned out
to be a temporary slump. The UAE
government, meanwhile, claimed
4.5 percent growth in 2012, its
highest rate since 2006. For the first
half of 2013, its GDP grew by 4.9%.
Several European countries and
the United States wish they could
brag about figures like that. With
the promise of well-paid positions
(at least for skilled workers), comes
the added advantage of no personal
income taxes, something that could
take out up to a third of one’s
paycheck in some countries.
While welcoming foreigners
to work in various sectors, Dubai
has also consciously diversified its
economy so as to not concentrate
on oil exports, its traditional revenue.
Today, with oil production estimated
at about 50,000 to 70,000 barrels
a day, overall oil and natural gas
revenues account for less than 7%
of the emirate’s revenues. With that
diversification came the need to
attract more investors. Once upon
a time, there were typical stories
of bureaucratic red tape. Now,
there are stories of praise. Sheikh
Mohammed himself alluded to the
pointed policy in his meeting with
Alexander Wilmot-Sitwell, president
of Europe and Emerging Markets
at Bank of America Merrill Lynch,
and the bank’s senior directors. He
said Dubai draws individual and
corporate investors from across the
world and enables them to grow “in
a stable and safe investment, social
and living environment.”
Surveys agree. An HSBC Bank
poll of 25 countries listed the UAE
as the 4th best place to live in terms
of financial quality of life in 2010 for
expatriates, up from 5th in 2009.
Foreign investment in Dubai
now stands at about 5% of its
GDP, although authorities would
like to raise that to 7%-8% of the
GDP, which was $83.4 billion in
2011. In return, Dubai offers several
• Special zone free investment
• Efficient transport and distribution
• Renewable 15-year guarantee of
no taxation
• Flexible investment options
• Full administrative and recruitment
That environment has made
many people billionaires over the
years, many of them Indians.
aggressive business strategies have
also been very helpful to its rise. It has
spent money to attract money and
people. There are no exact figures
for how much the development of
Dubai has cost. Some estimates say
ongoing projects alone are worth
$100 billion. The government has
put the price tag for the Al Maktoum
International Airport at $82 billion.
Downtown Dubai reportedly cost
$20 billion. But the city has reaped
the benefits and there is perhaps
no better proof than the rise in the
number of air travellers using Dubai
as an international hub. One-third
of the world’s population lives within
four hours of flight time from Dubai,
an astounding resource that helps
keep Emirates Airline bosses on
their feet. The recent opening of AlMaktoum International Airport will
undoubtedly be an added welcome
to existing visitors to Dubai, as well
as those planning to come for the
expo. Polish airline Wizz was the
first commercial company to land at
the airport. Located at Dubai World
Central, the airport will not only
serve Dubai but also the capital Abu
Dhabi. The airport will eventually
have up to four passenger
terminals with an annual passenger
capacity of 160 million. The existing
terminal alone can serve up to five
million passengers. Dubai World
Central is the site of one of Dubai’s
largest future economic zones that
will include residential, aviation,
logistics clusters and to be built in
excess of an estimated $32 billion.
Cultural diversity has always
been a “magic card” in Dubai’s
sleeve. From a city borne on 4,114
sq kilometers of barren land, Dubai
now is home to nationals of close to
200 countries. Survey after survey
has testified to the reality that the
city’s attraction is not just for males
coming to earn money. Families
feel comfortable coming to Dubai.
Women and children feel safe.
From jogging in Dubai’s various
parks to wearing bikinis on the
beach, or children playing on public
playgrounds, Dubai is unsurprisingly
safe. Even the international press,
which usually does not pick up on
feel-good topics, recently blasted
pictures of fancy cars acquired by
Dubai police as part of a nationwide
upgrade, citing it as a sign of the
central government’s commitment
to law and order.
Indeed the overall freedoms
that many expatriates enjoy in
Dubai surpass those afforded
in their own homelands. In the
Arab world, political uncertainty in
countries such as Lebanon, Syria,
Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and
Tunisia make Dubai the proverbial
peace on earth. Many Asian
countries are engulfed in their own
crises. Social freedom is certainly
an added bonus in the eyes of
many foreigners. The concept that
men, women, couples, families with
children can freely go out to dinner,
drinks, movies, drive around either
Jumeira’s posh neighborhoods or
Deira’s bustling markets without
fear or personal danger, makes life
in Dubai very comfortable.
And one should not forget
Dubai’s reputation as the glitziest
city in the Middle East.
Dubai has set the record in
being Number One in so many
aspects. Today, Dubai is a worldrenowned cosmopolitan city that
has become synonymous with
richness and glamor. Home to
many ambitious projects, Dubai
proudly brandishes Burj Khalifa,
which according to its web site,
at 828 meters and more than 160
floors, is the tallest building in the
world, and the tallest free-standing
structure in the world. It also has
the highest outdoor observation
deck in the world.
But Burj Khalifa is only the latest
of Dubai’s wonders. Let’s not forget
the man-made islands. First was
the Palm Jumeirah, then two more
in Deira and Jebel Ali. The latter,
when completed is expected to
feature a breakwater that will spell
out,“It takes a man of vision to write
on water,” a line from poetry written
by Sheikh Mohammed. Last, but
not least, is The World, a collection
of 300 islands of different sizes
that, collectively, represent the map
of the world. The private islands
are divided into private homes,
estate homes, dream resorts, and
community islands. The islands,
ranging in shape from about 23,000
sq meters to 83,000 sq meters,
are separated from each other by
50-100 meters of water. The only
means of transportation between
the islands will be by marine or air
So, yes, Dubai has worked hard
and has attracted people who work
hard for it. And the love is mutual. TII
Peyman Pejman is a freelance writer
based in Paris.
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Frank Raj
Orchard Road Shopping
River Safari, Zoo
Botanic gardens
Eat at a Hawker Centre
Seven Days In Singapore!:
Little In
Arab Str
And You’ll Want More!
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he
comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar
pillow.” – Lin Yutang
ach time I visit Singapore I ask myself why is this
country so fascinating? On my third trip I decided
it is a society that blends nicely – people, food,
environment. The Asian-foreign amalgam of this cityisland-nation is an extraordinary fusion of many cultures
in interesting ways. On my most recent trip I concluded
it’s because I love change and “shared differences,” the
catchphrase writer Anita Thomas uses (see her article
on Page …) is so much more eloquent in describing
On Singapore’s superb subway system, station
announcements are made in English, Mandarin, Malay
and Tamil. The government policy is to actively try and
integrate people for a vibrant multicultural society.
Moving around Singapura (its Malay name) is a
breeze with 104 stations, 153.2 km (95.19 mi) of lines in
operation, on standard gauge. The Mass Rapid Transit
or MRT is a rapid transit system that spans the entire
city-state. Launched in 1987 it is the second-oldest
metro system in Southeast Asia, after Manila’s LRT
System. Daily commuters averaged 2.649 million in
2012 – approximately 76% of the bus service network’s
by the
(L) Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By the Bay: Singapore’s magnificent new attraction
3.481 million in the same period.
Run by profit-based corporations,
SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit
they also operate bus and taxi
services, facilitating full integration
of public transport services running
from about 5:30 am to 1 am daily.
According to the Department of
Statistics the country is made up of
3,313,500 Singaporeans, 531,200
PRs and 1,554,400 non-residents,
making the total number of foreigners
2,085,600 – 38.6% of the total
population. Official policy even has
the news on television read in four
languages in case anybody misses
the point – English, Mandarin, Malay
and Tamil. The government and the
public are genuinely concerned
about maintaining racial balance,
and the CMIO model (Chinese,
Malay, Indian, and “Others”) is an
intentional strategy to ensure racial
Singapore was ranked 4th on the
Economist Intelligence Unit’s Asia’s
Most Liveable City 2011 survey and
Asia’s top City of Opportunity ninth
amongst 26 cities worldwide by
People from all over the world
give the place a sense of equality
that is noticeable even though other
countries may be ranked higher.
Singapore citizens are not left to
assimilate on their own – something
people are generally disinclined to
do. When you meet people who
look Chinese or Malay or Indian,
don’t be surprised if they tell you
they are Singaporean, preferring not
to discuss their antecedents. As a
conglomeration of three cultures:
Chinese (74%), Malay (13%) and
Indian (9%) the racial mixture
generates some conflict, but there
is harmony and each group works
to maintain its cultural traditions,
as the country builds a modern,
cohesive society.
Remember Singapore has strict
regulations and penalties so don’t
jaywalk, smoke in public or in airconditioned buildings and don’t eat
chewing gum. If you are entering
the country after staying in a hotel
somewhere else, pack your suitcase
personally to be sure you know what
is kept in your baggage – Singapore
has a harsh zero tolerance policy for
Let’s talk about food first because in
this gastronomic paradise, virtually
any cuisine is available round the
clock, which is great because you
can be out most of the day and
night, if you’re not too tired. With
a family heritage that includes
American, Canadian, Dutch, and
other lineages my preference is for
blends. I’ve developed a taste for a
wide range of cuisines and locations
that cater to assorted tendencies
and Singapore fits the bill like few
countries in the world.
You can’t go to Singapore and
not eat at a Hawkers Centre at
amazing budget prices (10 –30 S$)
–for delicacies like Satay, Oyster
Omelette, Fried Carrot Cake, Laksa,
Ba Kut Teh Chili Crab etc. The best
known places are: Makansutra
(near Esplanade); Lau Pasat (18
Raffles Quay)and Newton Circus
(500 Clemenceau Ave North).
Choose from an unimaginable
variety of Chinese, Malay, Indian
and Indonesian dishes, and try
a refreshing dessert called ‘Ice
Kachang,’ – preferably without the
beans. Don’t miss the ‘Curry Buffet’
at the ‘Tiffin Room’ of the old Raffles
Hotel where the ‘Singapore Sling,’
was invented, Indonesian Padang
cuisine at Garuda and Pepper Crab
at Seafood Paradise if your exotic
taste buds are salivating.
We had seven days in Singapore
on our trip last month and you
need a week at least if you want
to experience great shopping,
sightseeing, museum viewing and
world-class eating. Choices are
plenty in the luxury, budget and
basic options for a truly memorable
include, the Asian Civilisations
Museum, the National Orchid
Garden with its 1,000 orchid
species and 2,000 hybrids, a visit
to Chinatown Heritage Centre for
the old Singapore experience. Don’t
miss cruising the Singapore River
for a memorable night experience
on a bumboat – you’ll love the
quaint eating places alongside
Clarke Quay. Singapore Zoo is a
must especially for its new ‘River
Safari,’ which we missed due to
heavy rain on this trip. The night
safari is quite interesting but don’t
miss Jurong Bird Park the world’s
largest, 20.2-hectare hillside haven
for 5,000 birds representing 380
River Safari
Singapore’s River Safari Park has 10
freshwater habitats brimming with
creatures like fearsome arowanas,
giant catfish, anacondas and the
elusive bamboo-chomping giant
panda. The Amazon River Quest
features 30 animal species living on
the edges of the Amazon River. For
the first time in Singapore, visitors
will see the red-backed bearded
saki monkey, collared peccary and
red howler monkey. Other animals
along the ride include the Capybara
(world’s biggest rodent), Giant
Anteater (world’s largest anteater),
and Jaguar (South America’s
biggest wild cat).
Gardens by the Bay
Merlion - the symbol of Singapore
“Cooled Conservatories, Gardens
by the Bay are the biggest climatecontrolled greenhouses in the world
and a key project in the Singapore
Government’s vision of transforming
it into a ‘City in a Garden’. The
project had the tough brief of
creating cool growing environments
in a pair of glasshouses, which are
more commonly associated with
creating warm conditions.
Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands is an integrated
resort developed by Las Vegas
Sands, at S$8 billion it is billed
as the world’s most expensive
stand alone casino. The resort
features a 2,561-room hotel, a
m2) convention-exhibition centre,
the 800,000-square-foot (74,000
m2) The Shoppes at Marina Bay
Sands mall, an iconic Art Science
museum, two large theatres, seven
“celebrity chef” restaurants, two
floating Crystal Pavilions, an ice
skating rink, and the world’s largest
atrium casino with 500 tables and
1,600 slot machines. The complex
is topped by a 340m-long SkyPark
with a capacity of 3,900 people
and a 150m infinity swimming pool
Sentosa Resort Island-Asia’s playground
set on top of the world’s largest
public cantilevered platform, which
overhangs the north tower by 67m.
The Sentosa Resort island boasts
of casinos, Universal Studios,
an impressive aquarium, dolphin
shows, an old fort and great beaches.
One of the most fascinating exhibits
especially if you are a military history
buff like me, is Fort Silosa one of
the best preserved fortifications
better than Corregidor in the
Philippines. Its history takes you
back to the 1800 all the way to post
WWII. Especially interesting are the
Surrender Chambers featuring wax
figures of the surrender of British
Singapore to Japanese in WWII,
and the surrender of Japanese to
Allied forces in 1945.
Mövenpick Heritage
All the great hotels of the world
can be found in Singapore, but if
you are thinking of convenience it’s
probably best to stay on Sentosa
Island where you will spend a
chunk of your holiday anyway
for its attractions. On this trip we
stayed in the lovingly restored
1940s colonial British Barracks
building , which is the new wing of
the strategically located Mövenpick
Heritage Hotel. Universal Studios
is just a five minutes’ walk and its
designed for discerning business
and leisure travellers. Imbiah station
on the Sentosa Express monorail
is located opposite the hotel and
connects you to Habourfront MRT
station with excellent transport links
to Singapore’s Central Business
District, downtown area and Changi
International Airport.
Mövenpick Heritage Hotel’s fivestar facilities spread out over two
distinct wings. The Heritage wing,
with colonial history dating back
to the 1940s and the newly built
Contemporary wing offer individual
accommodation styles for both
business and leisure living.
Super Potato (believe it or not)
is the internationally renowned
Japanese design company that
designed the striking rooms and
facilities, which features 105 wellappointed Deluxe Rooms. 19
Onsen Suites, three Executive
Suites and two Penthouse suites.
The signature Onsen suites each
feature a Japanese-style hot tub
set in a tranquil outdoor sanctuary
while the Penthouse Suites will offer
private rooftop pools. All rooms are
equipped with high-speed Internet
access with wireless connectivity,
and feature LCD flat-screen TVs
with an integrated multimedia
The newly open three-storey
Heritage Wing now features 62
sumptuous suites ranging in size
from 40 to 60 sqm, guests can now
enjoy a sense of history in every
room with original features such as
colonial doors, windows, covered
‘link way’ corridors and other
architectural details fully restored
to their former glory, some of which
offer unparalled views of the iconic
The Mövenpick Heritage Hotel
Sentosa pays homage to its history
and design, with its interpretation of
infusing classical and contemporary
styles also reflected in its varied
menu featuring both local and
western dishes.
The glass covered link-bridge
spanning across the two wings of
the hotel is home to our Galleria,
where you can savour a taste of
English and Local High Tea.
Makan Sutra hawker centre
Tablescape - the all-day dining
restaurant currently serves buffet
delights and local favourites.
Experience the finest of whiskeys
and gastronomic flavours at The
WOW by Waldhaus am See St.
Moritz - Guinness World Record
holder for having the largest whisky
Foodies will not want to miss
two great restaurants in Sentosa,
the L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon,
for French food lovers, with its
unique dining concept where chefs
experiment and create, working
on new ideas and fusing different
concepts reflective of the locale.
Din Tai Fung the Michelin star
awarded restaurant is famous for its
signature xiao long baos (steamed
pork dumplings) and heart-warming
steamed chicken soup. It is ranked
as one of the world’s Top Ten Best
Restaurants with roots dating back
to Taiwan some 40 years ago.
All the information you need is
available at www.yoursingapore.
com the official website of the
Singapore Tourism Board. TII
Frank Raj is TII’s founding editor
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Offices starting from 1200 sq.ft office
on Sheikh Zayed Road
Armenia Fernandes
Dr Shamsheer Vayalil Parambath:
A Remarkable Journey of Success.
Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil receives the Pravasi Bharatiya Award from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee as Overseas Indian Affairs
Minister Vayalar Ravi looks on during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi.
“Success, to me, means having created something that can positively make
a difference in the quality of life for people on a sustainable level. Everything
else, the recognition, the money, the luxury, automatically follows from
success. These are mere fringe benefits,” says the 37-year-old Founder
and Managing Director of the UAE-based Lifeline Healthcare Group,
t was indeed a very proud moment for Dr Shamsheer
Vayalil Parambath, the 37-year-old Founder and Managing
Director of the UAE-based Lifeline Healthcare Group,
when he stepped up to receive the Indian Government’s most
prestigious recognition for Non-Resident Indians, the Pravasi
Bharatiya Samman, at the hands of the Indian President
Pranab Mukherjee that January 9 evening at New Delhi’s
Vigyan Bhavan.
For not only was he one of the youngest Indians to receive
the honour, but more importantly, the award conferred on him
at the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conclave, recognized
this young entrepreneur as an individual of exceptional merit
who through his valuable contribution to healthcare in the
Middle East, had worked to enhance India’s prestige among
the diaspora.
It has been a remarkable journey for this Kerala native,
who returned from the US to Abu Dhabi and set about building
an end-to-end integrated healthcare organization. From the
first hospital in Abu Dhabi launched in 2007, Dr Shamsheer
today runs a group that boasts nine hospitals across the UAE,
including the Gulf region’s first seven-starred Burjeel Hospital
in Abu Dhabi; and in Oman, Qatar and India. Another five
hospitals are in various stages of commissioning.
Dr Shamsheer began his career as a humble radiologist
at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi. He is a
graduate of Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore and gained
his MD from the reputed Sri Ramachandra Medical College in
Chennai. He subsequently did his fellowship in Radiology at
the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Since those early days, Dr Shamsheer has come a long
way. Including the healthcare division, he today heads 10 LLH
group companies that have interests in industrial medicine,
pharmacies and pharmaceuticals, health support services,
health foods, medical conferencing and IT across the Gulf
region and the US.
Having put in place his vision of an integrated healthcare
group, Dr Shamsheer is now focused on taking the business
into new markets. Future plans will see LLH embarked on
geographical expansion especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The group also has plans to open a chain of hospitals in India,
drawn by the country’s growing economic power and rapid
Dr Shamsheer’s commitment to providing superior
healthcare services has earned him several accolades over
the years. He was awarded the coveted ‘Hamdan Bin Zayed
Award for Humanitarian Aid 2013’ and was adjudged the
‘Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 for UAE’. He
also bagged the ‘Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award 2009’ and
the ‘Arab Health International Leadership Award’ in 2012.
Dr Shamsheer’s exemplary leadership saw him being
ranked among the ‘100 Most Powerful Indians in the UAE’ by
Forbes magazine last year and named as one of the ‘Top 100
Indians in the Gulf’ by Arabian Business Magazine in 2012.
He also won the US-Asia Outstanding Young Achievers Award
from the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Young Achievers
Award 2010 from the Indian Association of Physiotherapists.
Under his watch, Lifeline Hospital received recognition from
international bodies and governments including certification
from the Australian Council for Quality Management in 2007
and Joint Commission International accreditation in 2009. It
was voted the Best Private Hospital in Abu Dhabi by Daman
Insurance in 2008 and bagged the Quality Award from the
European Business Assembly in 2009.
So, to what does Dr Shamsheer owe his overwhelming
Dedication, hard work and perseverance, attention to
detail and being accessible to staff and patients at all times,
mark his leadership style. “Conditioning of the mind is the
biggest barrier to success and one should avoid falling into
this trap at all costs. One should approach everything with
a completely open mind and have the courage to challenge
every norm. Only then the impossible becomes possible and
extraordinary dreams turn into reality,” he says.
“Success, to me, means having created something that
can positively make a difference in the quality of life for people
on a sustainable level. Everything else, the recognition, the
money, the luxury, automatically follows from success. These
are mere fringe benefits,” he adds.
Hailing from a well-known business family, Dr Shamsheer
believes in leading a simple life with the rich family values
inculcated in him by his parents, Hashim Pokkinari and Mariyam
Barakkool, who live in Calicut. “My father has been a neverending source of learning for me. Though a very successful
businessman, he is highly devout and a firm upholder of
principles and values in both his personal and professional
life. My parents have encouraged me since childhood and the
success I have achieved so far is in large part, due to their
teaching and support,” he insists.
Perhaps it is his father’s influence that has seen Dr
Shamsheer getting actively involved in humanitarian causes
and social projects that have benefited various communities
Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil Parambath
across the Middle East, India and North Africa. “Right from my
young adult days, I have been passionate about philanthropy.
But since building the group took most of my time, I made
Corporate Social Responsibility an integral part of my business
Over the years, Lifeline Hospital has launched campaigns
to promote awareness, diagnosis and prevention of breast
cancer, diabetes and HIV. It has reached out to children by
taking up Influenza prevention programmes in schools and has
sought to educate the population on the benefits of healthy
eating and no smoking.
The group’s philanthropic efforts were appreciated by the
UAE government which bestowed it the ‘Ministry of Health
Award for Public Service Awareness Campaigns’. Lifeline
Hospital’s contribution towards HIV treatment also brought it
appreciation from the Government of Uganda.
Making sure he practices what he preaches, Dr Shamsheer
himself keeps to a regular exercise regimen that sees him
working out at the gym, walking, swimming, practicing yoga
and playing tennis. A keen sportsman who represented Kerala
in table tennis, he encourages his employees to stay fit through
exercise and sponsors staff volleyball, soccer and cricket
Dr Shamsheer, who counts a piece of the ‘Kiswah’, the
embroidered silk cloth that drapes the Kaabah in the holy city
of Makkah, as one of his most prized possessions, remains a
devoted son to his parents and makes it a point to spend his
leisure hours with wife Dr Shabeena, their three sons, Faadil,
Adil and Zahil, and daughter at their home in Abu Dhabi.
“Being with my children, I relive my own growing up years.
I was raised in a family where strong bonds were important.
Though my parents live in India, we remain very close and
speak to each other every day. We take several short breaks
throughout the year to spend as much time with them as
possible,” he says. TII
Armenia Fernandes is a freelance writer based in the UAE.
Frank Raj
A Diaspora Love Story:
Meet Dr. Orun Palit – Private Swiss banker
stayed on in America for another nine years. However my
grandfather went back to India in the mean time and eight
years later asked her to marry him. They finally got married in
1924 and she moved to join him in Kolkata. My mother Indira,
half Bengali, half Austrian was born in 1925 and lived for 20
years in Kolkata. For further studies, her parents sent her to
the Sorbonne University in France where she got her PhD in
French Literature. Unfortunately, during that time, her father,
my grandfather passed away in 1949, shortly after India’s
independence. My mother asked her Austrian mother to leave
India for Europe and live with her there.
How did your mother and father meet?
My mother Indira Sarkar finally settled down in Switzerland and
worked for the Indian embassy until 1964. She lived with my
grandmother in Berne, the capital of Switzerland from 1950 –
1964 till my grandmother passed away in 1963. Luckily, my
mother got to know my father Basanta Bihari Palit in 1964 at
one of the Indian embassy’s social functions. A 100% Bengali,
he worked at ABB in Switzerland after studying in Dresden,
Eastern Germany at that time on a scholarship from India for
a PhD in Electrical Engineering. After returning to India, he
found a job at ABB and they sent him later to the headquarters
to Switzerland in the 1960s. That’s how my parents met in
Switzerland and I was born and grew up in Switzerland.
My mother tongue is German because my mother was half
Austrian and Indian and my father too spoke German before
I was born.
Your own marriage to a Bengali lady was in very ‘nonwestern’ circumstances.
This is again a long story, but hopefully, I can tell it in person
to people who would like to meet me. Basically, an uncle in
Mumbai put an ad in two Kolkata newspapers in July 1994,
without my knowledge and consent and set the ball rolling. I
met my future wife Moutushi in April 1995 in Kolkata, We met
on a Monday for six hours, got engaged three days later on a
Thursday, and got married (civil) two days later on Saturday.
The religious marriage took place after three months on July
14th, 1995 in Kolkata. We are married now for 18 years and
have Ronia our 16 year old daughter.
How did you become a relationship manager in private
I started basically on a green field as I entered the business only
six years back. Prior to that, I was heading an equity team of
eight at another small private bank in Zurich. I was in addition
also a pharmaceutical analyst for European pharmaceutical
companies, and a fund manager for Swiss, European and US
equities. I didn’t have any connection to India or to Indians in
my professional life until then. My only connections to India
were my three trips to Kolkata to visit family on my father’s side
from 1965 - 1995. That changed quite dramatically after my
marriage in 1995. After growing up in Switzerland, doing all my
schooling here, serving in the Swiss army and dating a couple
of European ladies, I married an Indian woman from Kolkata in
an “arranged marriage.” My marriage brought me much closer
to India which I am now very grateful for. We have been going
to India, thereafter, at least once a year.
TII: What is the nature of your work?
OP: I look after Indian clients (NRIs or people of Indian origin)
in Dubai, London, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai and
in Delhi. Private Client Bank AG concentrates on High Net
Worth Individuals (HNIs) and is looking for entrepreneurs
who have most of their wealth only in their own company or
only in investments in Dubai/Indian property, in Dubai/Indian
stocks or only in Indian bonds. Our main goal is to preserve
the wealth of our clients, even for the next generation. Our
bank has about 300 clients and roughly CHF 4bn assets under
management. We don’t keep the assets of our clients in our
bank, the money of our clients is safely kept in their names at
bigger custodian banks in Singapore, Dubai or in Zurich, but
we continue to be the relationship manager and the investment
advisor to the clients. Our clients have the best of two worlds,
a small dedicated team servicing and advising the client on
investments, and their money is safely kept in one of the bigger
custodian banks.
Dr Orun Palit with his wife Moutushi (R) and daughter Ronia - diversity runs in the family
Dr Orun Palit, 48 year old Swiss national, reflects the diversity of the global Indian
Diaspora. Of Indian origin, he is married to Moutushi Ghosh a Bengali, and they
have a daughter Ronia. His grandfather Prof. Benoy Kumar Sarkar was a freedom
fighter in India and the co-founder of Jadavpur University in Kolkata. Orun works
for Private Client Bank AG, a Swiss private bank, based in Zurich.
TII: Your grandparents’ experience is somewhat similar
to the Titanic love story, the difference being their ship
reached New York safely.
ORUN PALIT: There are similarities! My grandfather, Prof. Dr.
Benoy Kumar Sarkar, born in 1887 in Malda, West Bengal, was
a freedom fighter and a young professor at the beginning of the
20th century. In 1914, he was invited to a lecturing trip in the
USA and his ship stopped in England before taking off to New
York. My grandmother Ida Stieler at that time, a 17 year old
Austrian girl worked as an “Au Pair” in London. She wanted to
return to Austria as the First World War broke out, and being an
Austrian national it was not safe to stay in London. However,
she coudn’t find a way to go back to her parents in Innsbruck.
Her American relatives reacted quickly and invited her to the
USA instead. They sent money to London for her one way
ticket to New York by sea.
TII: How did you get involved with the Indian market?
TII: How did your grandparents meet on the ship?
OP: The captain of the ship took care of the young Austrian
lady and wisely put her with the Indian group as they were
not involved in the war. The captain thought she would be
safe with a group of Indian intellectuals. And of course, my
grandfather was part of that group and that is how they fell in
love during the 3-4 weeks journey to the USA. My grandmother
Orun and his wife Moutushi - short courtship
OP: In 2005, my previous employer in Zurich sent me to
Wharton Business School to attend an Advanced Management
Program. There, I met three Indian CEOs and people of Indian
origin like me. We were six out 60 participants coming from an
Indian background. I observed, “wow, Indians are doing very
well!” The professors in the program also talked a lot about
China and India being the upcoming markets. There, the idea
was seeded in my head, that I should really do something with
Orun and family make regular trips to India - he is on track to expanding a USD 100 million portfolio of Indian clients
India and Indians for my next career move in order to be part of
the Indian growth story. A year and a half later, I actually took
the challenge and changed jobs.
TII: How successful have you been in targeting the
Indian market?
OP: I was someone who had know-how about global financial
markets and products, but I didn’t have a client book. Who
would give me a job that is connected to India? In 2007
Private Client Bank AG gave me the opportunity and time
to embark on this journey and to build up my “Indian” client
base in Dubai, London and in India. I first had to establish
contacts, relationships and networks in these different cities
and countries. It was two years of grueling, frustrating,
fascinating effort to establish contacts with HNIs, requiring lots
of patience, perseverance and persistency to survive the tough
times in the beginning. Slowly, my client book grew over the
last four years and has now reached almost 100 million USD
with about 30 clients.
What is unique about Private Client Bank AG?
We are a family office bank and serve HNI clients. Our
investment approach is based on long-term investment
strategies. Our two main equity portfolios performed very
well over the past three years. Our high quality global mid
cap portfolio, consisting of the following stocks: Sika, Adidas,
Kühne & Nagel Intl., LMVH, Lindt Chocolates, Galencia, Fanuc,
Tsingtao Brewery, called Strategic Pearls has performed so
far in 2013 (until 30.11.2013):+29.30% and our global large
cap portfolio, consisting of the following stocks: Royal Dutch,
Nestlé, Intel, Allianz, Apple, Syngenta, Roche, ABB, called
Strategic Equities performed: +19.28%.
TII: What is the advice you give your clients?
OP: It is of critical importance that HNIs don’t put all their eggs
in one basket. History has shown that HNIs who have invested
only in one country or kept their assets only in one asset
class lost a major part of their wealth due to an unpredictable
external event (war, confiscation, change of government,
prosecution, etc). Investors of a certain wealth class should
start to diversify their assets more on a global basis in terms of
assets & currencies.
Private Banking is based on trust, which can only be established
if prospective clients are comfortable with the relationship
manager they are working with. I feel it is of vital importance
for a long standing relationship that the clients get to know
the relationship manager better, and know about his/her family
background. To give good investment advice, it is important to
know about the educational and career background as well.
My personal life has been quite “unusual” in terms of family
background and in terms of how I founded my own family. My
educational background has all to do with finance and with
financial markets and products. I have a PhD in finance with a
focus on banking. TII
Readers can email Dr. Orun Palit at [email protected]
Frank Raj is TII’s founding editor
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Prabhu Guptara
The oldest Malayali in Europe:
Jacob Matthan
Annikki and Jacob in Lapland 1990
In 1984 when Jacob Matthan and his Finnish wife Annikki
arrived in Finland, they found that their two younger children,
being Indian nationals, would not be entitled, for a minimum
of two years, to all the benefits afforded to Finnish and
European children. So Annikki applied for Finnish nationality
for them. Within days of that being granted, the Indian Embassy wrongly
demanded that Jacob return the Indian Passports of the two children as they
were not entitled to dual nationality. Jacob’s appeal to the President of India
allowed the children to have dual nationality until the age of 18.
he story of Jacob Matthan’s European connection
starts with his being sent by his parents to study
in the UK in 1963, after his Bachelor’s degree at
St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. Why was he sent to the
UK for further study? Partly because his own father,
and others in the family, had studied at Cambridge and
London, and partly because, in those days, it was the
UK that was regarded by Indians as the best place in
the world for further studies. As a result, there were lots
of Malayalis in England in the 1960s. Many migrated
on to the USA or Canada, others married Britishers
and were absorbed into the mainstream of British life.
However, a number kept their Malayali identity, which
is why there are so many Malayali organisations in the
UK today.
The question of how many Malayalis married nonIndians has never been researched, as far as I can
find out (nor has the question of how many Malayalis
married non-Malayali Indians in the early days of
interaction between Malayalis and non-Malayalis; my
mother married my father, from UP, in 1947 and it was
a sensation in Kerala as well as in UP, opposed by both
families). It is also difficult to say how typical Jacob’s
story is, but no doubt readers and researchers will
evaluate that at some point in the future when much
more information has been gathered.
Anyway, during the course of his studies in England,
Jacob’s brother and he were sharing an apartment
with three other Indians in London. One of them had a
girlfriend from Finland. When she came with her sister
to London for a visit in December 1963, the sisters had
no place to stay. Jacob and his brother had agreed to
give them their room. When Jacob set eyes on Annikki,
it was love at first sight (“this has not changed in 49
In terms of his studies, Jacob completed the
Graduateship of the Plastics Institute of England,
(GradPI), which led to the award of the Associateship,
APRI, as the Plastics and Rubber Institutes were
merged, which led to the Fellowship, FPRI, in 1978
(making Jacob the youngest Fellow ever at the age of
35). The Institute then merged with the Ceramics and
Metals Institutes to become the Institute of Materials,
thus making him a Fellow of the Institute of Materials
Immediately after completing his studies, Jacob
joined the Rubber and Plastics Research Association of
Great Britain (RAPRA), the Government Research body,
in 1966.
Meanwhile, news of Jacob’s feelings for Annikki
had set off a reaction in his conservative Malayali family
(“My family in India was greatly opposed to my marrying
outside of the Kerala roots. Besides my father, two of
my mother’s brothers were also sent to England to
dissuade me. As that had no effect, they just hoped the
situation would die down as an infatuation”). On the
other hand, Annikki’s family had no opposition to their
marriage whatsoever. Her elder brother and one of her
younger sisters attended the wedding in January 1967
in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, in England (“I was blessed
to enter a loving family headed by a devout Christian.
However, the day we got married, the situation on my
side of the family changed as my mother declared to all,
“what God has put together, let no man put asunder”
which meant that Annikki was welcomed into the family
as a daughter”)**.
Jacob and Annikki’s two older children, Susanna
Mariam and Jaakko (Jacob), were born in England,
in 1967 and 1968 respectively. Jacob worked at
RAPRA till 1969, when he decided to return to India,
Jacob and his young family
and settle in Madras, where Jacob and Annikki’s two
younger children were born. The plan for the return to
India was to form the first professional consultancy in
India with his brother who had by this time obtained
his Ph.D. in Polymer Science from England. Polymer
Consultancy Services eventually formed many other
service organisations around that base.
Jacob’s first customer was MRF Tyres and,
immediately after that, its subsidiary and ancillary
companies, and he then ventured outside that “family
base”, initially working with companies such as
Carborundum Universal, and then with a whole host of
major multinational companies. However, his main task
focused on bringing new industrial project ideas to India
and to raise the information base within India through
his continuing links with RAPRA. RAPRA Abstracts was
published in India by him, establishing the consultancy
as the leading organisation in the “polymers knowledge
base” in India (“No major project in the fields of rubber
and plastics (including the Indian Petrochemical
Corporation) was without our stamp”). Jacob brought
new ideas to India and several new projects, which were
then copied by others all over the country. He was also
given the responsibilty of running the Malaysian Rubber
Bureau as another Malayali, Tan Sri B. C. Sekhar (from
Trichur), Chairman of the Malaysian Rubber Reaserch
and Development Board, and Jacob’s friend since his
days at RAPRA in England, gave him that responsibility.
Meanwhile, Jacob’s first proper visit to Finland
was en route to India in 1969 - they travelled by ship,
going the long route via the Cape (“as we drove from
Helsinki to Oulu, a drive of 600 km, with the midnight
sun, I was astonished by the beauty of the country, of
never ending green forests and blue lakes from south
to north. That beauty has remained for the last 43
years, despite efforts by some Finnish industrialists to
pollute the country!”) The second visit, in 1975, was
unintendedly longer (4 or 5 months) as Mrs Indira
Gandhi’s Emergency had been declared, and they were
stuck in Finland because of some misunderstandings
Jacob with his son in Barcelona in 1969
to do with Annikki’s status in India (“The beauty of
Finland and its pollution free atmosphere has remain
unchanged over the last 43 years, but urbanisation has
destroyed the rural population in many ways, much to
the detriment of the country”.) There was another visit in
1979, during which the way the Finns operate became
clearer to Jacob.
They decided to settle in Finland in 1984 as Annikki’s
parents were getting old, and India was becoming more
and more corrupt so it was more and more difficult
to live in India without moral compromise (“I was
disillusioned with how India was turning out: you have
to live within the system, and many of us can’t do that –
we can’t live with spending the whole day greasing the
system”). However, Jacob continued to hold his Indian
In 1984 when they arrived in Finland, Annikki found
that their two younger children, being Indian nationals,
would not be entitled, for a minimum of two years,
to all the benefits afforded to Finnish and European
children. So she applied for Finnish nationality for them.
Within days of that being granted, the Indian Embassy
demanded that Jacob return the Indian Passports of the
two children as they were not entitled to dual nationality.
Instead of returning the passports to the Indian
Embassy, he sent them by Registered Post directly
to the President of India saying that although his wife
wanted to children to have Finnish nationality, Jacob
wanted them to retain their Indian nationality. He sent
a copy of this to the Indian Prime Minister. The Prime
Minister’s Office replied immediately saying that the
children could not have dual nationality. The President
of India, meanwhile, had forwarded Jacob’s letter to the
Ministry of Law. After careful investigation of the facts,
the Ministry informed Jacob that the children could
have dual nationality till the age of 18.
A copy of Jacob’s letter to the President had sent to
the Indian Ambassador in Finland, who quickly reacted
by apologising for Embassy’s over-hastiness. (“As a
result we became very good friends, even to this day,
and we created a cooperation between the University of
Oulu and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The
Ambassador was a Malayali.”)
Jacob was officially admonished for sending Indian
Passports out of the country by post, but the children
got dual nationality which meant they could enjoy
Finnish benefits and yet travel to India without any
problems using their Indian passports.
On moving to Finland, Jacob joined the University
of Oulu as Researcher and Scientific Editor in the
Microelectronics Laboratory. Within three years, he
became The Laboratory Manager and, soon after,
the Chief Engineer. As he had do much of the work
as Scientific Editor, not only for the Microelectronics
Laboratory, but also for the entire Electrical Engineering
Department, in addition to the Physics Department and
the Biology Department, Annikki and Jacob set up the
company Findians OY in 1992 to handle this work as
well as similar work from the Finnish State Research
Jacob in Oulu 2000
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Centre, Nokia Mobile, Nokia Networks and other major
Finnish multinationals.
As a parallel operation, he started to introduce India
to Finnish organisations, and vice versa, taking Finnish
technology to India. He established Findians Briefings
as a monthly newsletter (initially in hard copy) and, as
he started doing more and more on the Internet, making
Findians OY the first major Associate of Amazon with a
very large base on the internet for both Amazon US and
Amazon UK, as a result of which they picked up 15%
commission on all book sales through their system
(“Google was not around then, and I was able to do
all this because of the wide education I had received
at St Stephen’s College (and, later, in England) in
Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, combined with
the entrepreneurial heritage of my family”).
The story of Findians Briefings is interesting. It was
first an in-house monthly newsletter which started with
a circulation of 110 readers but soared to a circulation
of 6000 in a half a dozen issues. As the associated
website became more and more popular, Findians
Briefings was converted into a fortnightly webletter in
1994, and had a worldwide readership of around 80,000
by the end of 1999 (“some old web pages continue to
exist, but I am not updating those”). The registration for
the domain name was shifted to India in
1999, and moved its server to Canada, when they were
threatened with having their internet access in Finland
cut for writing the truth about the levels of corruption
in Finland (“Actually, there is no specific law covering
corruption, so there can be no corruption per se.
Annikki and I being activists found the only way
we could get action was to publicly expose acts of
corruption on the internet (but limiting ourselves to
instances in which we had direct involvement). That is
why our Internet Service Provider warned us, verbally,
that our Internet Account was being jeopardised as
“the authorities” were watching whether we were overstepping the bounds of media freedom here.
The media is not free in Finland. We understood the
threat and hence moved our Internet Service Provider
to Canada through India. That removed the immediate
threat. However, my main correspondent was publicly
persecuted for her column “Finland: Oligarchy =
Democracy??” We wrote about corruption among
judges, police, bureaucrats, lawyers, social workers,
and politicians, as well as the xenophobia in Finnish
culture. The only way you have an effect on corruption
in Finland is if it gets public exposure. The Finns are
expert in creating an image, and our exposure kept
blowing up that image. That was why the attack on
Findians continued”).
Jacob still has a few hundred active web sites, and
runs several blogs and many Google Groups. A site
named “Findians”, or linked with it, even today, usually
goes to the top of the search engines in a matter of
Standing (L to R) Jacob, Annikki, Jaakko, Joanna, and Mika. Sitting:
daughter Susanna Matthan and son-in-law Christopher Rogers.
hours simply because the enormity of links to that word
and the previous 5000+ sites. That is because Jacob
set up internet pages on all his diverse fields of interest
(“Almost 40 different subject areas. Each subject
covered many internet pages, and my pages appeared
at the top of almost every search engine. I was not
cheating the robots but each was a genuine page. At
that time there was no Google but many hundreds of
search engines. This meant I had remarkable sales of
all the books I was covering in my web pages. This
was before Search Engine Optimisation and other such
methods which are nowadays used to get to the top
listing in Search Engines).
The Findians Google Group is still in existence,
the Findians current phone number is being used by
Jacob, and many of the articles and web pages that
started under the Findians domain name have been
moved to the<y< personal webs servers of “jmatthan”,
“amatthan” as well as
However, in the middle of 2003, spammers overran
that domain name (“5000 spam mails in a day!”), and
they were forced to close that, but the “Findians”
concept continues to be active. They have stopped
several who tried to usurp that name over the years. TII
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. He blogs at:www. prabhuguptara.
Balan Iyer
Start a Small Biz in 2014
Choose From Any One of these 10!
TII introduces ‘Entrepreneurs Library’ a new series for small business. Opportunities
abound in the Gulf where Indians have been thriving for decades, our new section
complements TII’s new logline: ‘Winning in Diaspora.’
f you want to break into business
and work independently but
don’t know how, then going
with an established brand can
lead you to business success, with
franchising the best way to go.
Franchising offers the best of both
worlds – the challenge and creativity
of entrepreneurship combined with
the stability of a sound business
concept that carries a proven track
Some of the biggest names in
business got to that level because
they franchised their model.
McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, KFC, Hertz,
InterContinental Hotels – all started
out small and grew into worldwide
brands on the back of franchising.
But just like any business,
there are, of course, risks that
must be managed. Perhaps the
most overlooked is that of false
expectations. Many entrepreneurs
venture into franchising expecting
easy returns and instant success.
They see the tremendous success
achieved by some franchisees and
hastily assume that such rewards
await them. They think that all they
need to do is pay the fees, acquire
the franchise and, voila, success is
Here’s a reality check: While
it’s true that you get a head start
because of the systems that the
franchisor already has in place,
it’s not going to be a walk in the
park. A franchise needs total
commitment and this means hard
work on your part. You have to
be hands-on. You’ll have to put in
longer hours. You can’t just shut
down and come back the following
day, like you would in a 9:00 amto-6:00 pm job. Your business will
require a constant vigil to succeed.
Before taking the plunge into
franchising, it’s critical to take
your time and diligently review
the options available. Don’t rush.
Shop around for the best fit. To
aid your search, here are some
of the rising stars of U.S.-based
franchises. Most will be interested
to expand their presence in the Gulf
by accepting franchisees – a great
opportunity for anyone desiring to
get into business.
Jan-Pro Cleaning
Total investment: $2,800 to
This commercial cleaning
franchise provides training and
support to new franchisees. If
you are a veteran and planning
to start a business of your own
the VetConnection program from
JAN-PRO offers attractive financial
incentives. JAN- PRO also offers
financial assistance to qualified
franchisee prospects and is
recognized as a leader in minority
recruitment and participation in the
franchising sector. The average
initial franchise fee is $10,000.
programs that combine jazz dance,
resistance training, Pilates, yoga
and kickboxing. The international
franchise business hosts a
network of 7,800 instructors
teaching more than 32,000 classes
weekly throughout 32 countries.
Franchisees receive training,
corporate support, resources
and strategic alliances, including
Jazzercise Apparel, to help grow
their businesses.
Total investment: $4,730 to
Proforma creates personalized
promotional products, offers
commercial printing services,
designs custom business
forms and stationery, provides
e-commerce solutions, and is
capable of multimedia production.
Franchisees receive accounting
methods, advertising, marketing
and promotional techniques,
preferential vendor relationships,
volume purchasing power,
personnel training and other
matters related to the maintenance
of uniform quality standards.
Total investment: $4,280 to
The initial fee for this fitness
franchise is as low as $2,000.
Jazzercise offers workout
If you have a passion for travel, this
franchise is tailor-made for you.
Founded in 1992, Fort Lauderdale,
Florida-based CruiseOne is a
division of World Travel Holdings,
the largest seller of cruise vacations
in the world with a portfolio of more
than 30 brands.
With 23 new cruise ships
being built and expected to go into
service in 2014, the company is
well-positioned to ride the boom in
this segment of the travel market.
The fact that only 20% of the U.S.
population – and an even smaller
proportion worldwide – has cruised
makes this franchise a promising
The franchise fee is $9,800.
Financing is offered for an initial
down payment of $3,500.
Experienced travel professionals
accredited by the Cruise Lines
International Association (CLIA)
or the International Air Transport
Association (IATA) receive
significant discounts off the
franchise fee if they have a superior
track record in cruise sales.
A major advantage of owning
a CrusieOne franchise is that
you can run your business from
anywhere in the world with an
internet connection since all
software provided is web-based
Total Investment: $14,950 to
Franchisees offer Kinderdance’s
innovative preschool developmental
education through dance to
thousands of children across North
America. There are five different
programs that incorporate motorskills, gymnastics, music and
fitness, blended with academics,
specifically designed for boys and
girls ages 2-12. Classes can be
taught form home or in childcare
centers, churches, schools, or
community centers. Special
incentives offered to women,
veterans, and minorities, including
discounted fees.
and requires no downloading.
Chem-Dry Carpet
Chem-Dry is the world’s largest
rug and carpet cleaning franchise,
with more than 3,500 franchises
in over 35 countries. The
company’s strategy is built on a
simple premise: Every year, 14
billion square feet of new carpet
are installed in homes and offices
– and all of it has to be cleaned.
That’s just in the U.S. Clearly, it’s a
massive market.
The franchise owner’s initial
investment ranges from $33,950
to $131,500, depending on the
equipment chosen. Regardless of
the investment, the monthly royalty
is constant at $350. Chem-Dry
offers low-cost, in-house financing,
and the loan is interest- and
payment-free until the fourth month
of operation. This type of financing
is uncommon in the franchise
industry and is Chem-Dry’s way
of boosting their franchisees’
business-building efforts.
Overall, this is an ideal business
for an entrepreneur with drive and
determination, but doesn’t require a
lot of experience or money to start.
Chem-Dry is specifically seeking
master franchise partners in Oman,
Jordan and India, among other
emerging markets.
Handyman Matters
incomes annually. Handyman
Matters’ software is web-based,
which gives franchisees the
flexibility to work from anywhere.
It also provides training and
marketing support.
Every home owner always needs
something fixed or improved
around the house, whether
it’s a clogged bathroom drain
or a garage that’s overdue for
repainting. But with today’s busy
lifestyles, who has the time to do
it himself? This franchise operates
on that assumption.
Handyman Matter specializes
in home repair, improvement and
remodel services, and with the
sheer number of houses – even
newer ones – requiring regular
maintenance, there’s always
something to keep a franchisee
The initial investment is about
$57,000, but with the homeimprovement industry valued at
$50 billion in the U.S. alone, the
potential to earn several times the
initial outlay is nearly limitless. The
company says it’s not unusual for
franchise owners to make 7-figure
Home Helpers
Total investment: $57,500 to
In-home healthcare is a
growing field as the baby boomer
generation ages. Home Helpers is
a leader in home care services with
caregivers who provide one-on-one
care to seniors, new & expectant
mothers, working parents, and
those recuperating from illness
or injury and those facing lifelong
physical and developmental
challenges. Senior care
services allow individuals to live
independently in their home instead
of an assisted living complex or
nursing home.
providing professional tools,
equipment, and storage
for technicians that work in
independent repair shops,
dealerships, small engine repair,
farm and industrial service, marine,
motorsports, and even aviation.
Franchisees can sell, distribute and
service automotive equipment,
tools and toolboxes out of their
Matco Tools
Total investment: $88,879 to
Matco is one of the fastest
growing mobile tool franchises
Total Investment: $143,683 to
Snap-on Tools franchisees
offer over 22,000 products,
including hand tools, power tools,
diagnostic tools, tool storage,
and shop equipment. These tools
are for home use as well as on
the job. The business can run
from home with owners bringing
their “mobile stores” or Snap-On
trucks filled with products directly
to customers, which includes
car dealerships, mechanics, and
airports. The initial franchise fee is
$7,500 – $15,000.
Balan Lyer is a freelance writer based in
Ruqya Khan
‘My Mom’s Beauty Salon’
Preethi D’Souza
International City, Dubai
Launch cost:
AED 80,000
Launch Date:
01 January 2011
Beauty Care
Preethi at work in her salon
Preethi D’souza with her staff
‘My Mom’s Beauty Salon’
TII presents ‘Small Biz,’ the first in a new series featuring small business
startups. Meet Preethi D’Souza owner and manager of ‘My Mom’s Beauty
Salon’ located in Dubai’s International City.
ave you ever had a
dream that does not
let you give up? One
that you build and work towards
day after day after day? Well, I had
one such dream. I always wanted to
be an entrepreneur and when I got
married into a business family that
hunger just grew stronger. I was
young and starry eyed; I wanted
to have my own business and be
successful. It wasn’t an easy task
for me to pull it off but I just had to
do it for my own sake,” says Preethi
D’Souza, manager and owner of
‘My Mom’s Beauty Salon,’ a small
and humble parlour tucked away in
Dubai’s International City. “Our set
up is now more than three years old.
We are in the France section of ICD,
in building P 16. People drop in from
as far as Sharjah, Ajman and even
Ras Al Khaimah for some indulgent
tender loving care!”
But what is it that makes her
set up so unique and what went
into the making of her salon? She
explains, “I always enjoyed the art
of beauty. I loved dressing up with
my mother and sisters; I would do
their hair and make up. Friends and
family encouraged me but life had
other plans for me. With marriage
on the cards I did feel a bit let down
but not defeated. My husband gave
me the freedom to learn. I did my
basic beautician course from the
Maya Pranjpee Beauty Institute of
Mumbai in 2,000, and later I finished
the CIDESCO exam, (Swiss exam
for the beauty industry). I worked at
Hairworks and also at the Cleopatra
Spa of Wafi in Dubai. I was the
Beauty Brand Manager at VLCC
when they began their venture in
the UAE. While their services were
excellent I felt that they lacked
the personal touch. It was too
commercially packaged so I jumped
off their brand wagon and decided
to go solo!”
In 2008, Preethi moved to the
Arabian Ranches, where she worked
as a freelance beauty consultant.
Her clients were largely people
from her own neighbourhood. Her
network grew by referrals and word
of mouth but that dream always
nudged her. Occasionally someone
would enquire about her license
to practise and that’s when she
decided to open a proper salon
for herself. “I wanted to dedicate
it to my mother and so the name,
‘My Mom’s Beauty Salon’! I also
wanted to have a name that my
own daughters could connect with,”
she smiled.
Preethi reveals, “The investment
for the project was close to AED
80,000 – this included licensing
costs, visa formalities plus medical
and relevant paperwork for me
and my staff. I had at the time of
inauguration only one beautician on
board but now as we are growing
I have employed one more staff
to ensure that work progresses
smoothly and without delay.”
She knows that she wants to
franchise her salon and is seeking
investors to set up two more
Preethi D’souza: First year was toughest
branches in Satwa and Ghusais.
Her vision is to work with people
who believe in beauty not just in
looks about also of the soul. “I want
to turn the mirror inwards so that a
woman feels beautiful from within.
Confidence and care is what I want
to give my clients.”
Looking back she says, “The
first year of business was the
toughest. I was so enthusiastic
about setting up shop that I did not
plan or think of the expenses that
we would have to endure during the
times when the business was slack
or in hibernation. While the rent and
the electricity- water bills would be a
constant demand on the purse, the
cashflow was not so good. I wanted
to sail on my own and did not want
to dig into my husband’s pockets
for support.
“I set up a Facebook page
called ‘Mother’s World’ where
mum entrepreneurs were invited to
advertise their businesses. Word
spread like wild fire and within a few
weeks I had mothers sharing and
referring friends. Before I knew it I
had more than a 1,000 members
from all over the place. Today we
are at close to 2,750 entrepreneurs
online. I used this growing network
to market my own work. I got
more clients for the salon and
also as freelance assignments. I
compered events and was the MC
at many gatherings. I built
my income bit by bit and
poured all my energy and revenue
into this little place. My efforts
began to bear fruit in year two. I felt
so blessed that I did not give up!”
Preethi did not allow any hurdle
to run her down. She stood strong
and guarded her dream. She
supported other women who had
a dream for themselves. She firmly
believes in the principle that you get
what you give. “No it was not easy
but the struggle was worth it. I ran
a one woman show where everyday
I wore several hats – a mother, a
wife, a sister, a counsellor, a trader,
a PRO, a beautician but I did it all
for the sake of the businessperson
in me.
“I did it out of gratitude for my
own mother and the many blessings
she gave me. I want my girls to look
up to me and feel proud of me. I am
a fighter. My battle wasn’t easy but
today I feel I have defeated all that
stood in my way. I feel happy, I feel
at peace, I feel content. I am happy I
tried and did not let go of my dream.
These two eyes that we have are not
just to see, they are meant to hold a
vision and trust. When times were
bad I prayed for direction and did
not tire from hard work. Dreaming
big is also being willing to rise after
every fall and not stop at any cost,”
she concluded. TII
Ruqya Khan is a freelance writer based
in Dubai.
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Shamlal Puri
Sarosh Zaiwalla
Journey To The Top in UK Law
Sarosh Zaiwalla is a solicitor par excellence with a strong track of successes
in British and international law. SHAMLAL PURI met him at his London
office and shared the story of his extraordinary career in which he has
rubbed shoulders with the movers and shakers at home and abroad.
op notch lawyer Sarosh Zaiwalla, a senior partner
at Zaiwalla & Co. is a soft-spoken Mumbaiborn Parsi who has established a formidable
reputation as an international arbitrator. He is regarded
as the star of Asian solicitors in the UK specialising in
international commercial law and litigation.
Zaiwalla does not only feature in the news, but also
makes headlines about his hard-earned reputation as
an astute legal expert. He has successfully handled
cases where established London lawyers have failed,
taking him to the peak of his professional career in the
British capital.
Sarosh Zaiwalla arrived in Britain some 35 years
ago, and studied and trained in London. Through sheer
hard work he has built a highly successful career with a
portfolio of more than 1,200 cases over the years, some
of which are the envy of his fellow legal professionals.
He is involved in international energy, maritime and
construction arbitrations either as a solicitor, counsel,
party-appointed arbitrator or sole arbitrator in cases
not only in the UK but also in the Middle East, Europe
and India. He has acted for many prestigious clients
including the President of India, and the governments
of the UAE, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong,
Russia and Iran.
Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan’s family hired
his services for the successful Bofors libel case. Indian
National Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a case
to stop a movie being made on her life by an Italian
Sarosh recalls that when he won the case for the
Bachchan family, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
invited him for a meeting lasting two hours. His other
clients include the former Pakistan Prime Minister the
late Benazir Bhutto and Indian industrialists, the Tatas.
Many years ago, a young British lawyer by the
name of Tony Blair went to Sarosh Zaiwalla for
work experience in maritime law. A good friendship
developed between the two. Zaiwalla & Co also hired
the services of barrister Tony Blair as Counsel in a case
for the Government of India which was also the first
case India won in the House of Lords. It afforded Mr
Blair the only occasion in which the three times Prime
Minister appeared in the Law Report.
Among the current landmark cases Zaiwalla has
handled is that of Bank Mellat, Iran’s largest private
bank, which was blacklisted by the European Council
in 2010 and forced to cease operating in the UK. The
European Court of Justice has overturned the Council’s
decision, and the bank can now trade in Europe and
pursue a claim of damages against the Council. Bank
Mellat was accused of helping Iran’s controversial
nuclear programme which it denied.
Of the ruling Sarosh says that it is “a victory for the rule
of law as much as it is for Bank Mellat. The judgement
will put enormous confidence in the independence
of the British judiciary and sets an example that even
controversial disputes can be resolved by applying the
principle of the rule of law through the British courts.”
In his continued success on the British legal scene
Sarosh Zaiwalla collected tributes from none other than
UK Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. Paying his firm
of solicitors fulsome praise at their 30th anniversary
party at the House of Lords he said recently that he
saluted the diversity in the legal profession, the industry
and excellence of lawyers from the Indian subcontinent
and the contributions they had made to the legal service
industry in the City of London. In a speech delivered from
Sarosh Zaiwalla live on Sky TV commenting on immigration in
Nov 2013.
Sarosh Zaiwalla with his daughter Freya and son Varun.
the heart and without notes he praised the “goodness
and professionalism” of those who have handled over
1,000 international arbitrations and represented many
overseas governments and multinationals as well as
private clients from overseas.
The Attorney General also acknowledged that
Sarosh Zaiwalla was a pioneer in opening up the legal
profession to diversity, at a time when there were many
racial hurdles. “Even 100 years from now, history will
continue to remember this achievement,” Mr Grieves
said, as he paid tribute to the firm’s Indian connections
and the contribution this had made to the good relations
between India and Britain.
Reflecting on his earlier years Sarosh Zaiwalla
studied maritime law and worked part-time in a wellknown London City firm in Fleet Street, the heart of the
newspaper world and where a spill-over of law firms
from Chancery Lane were based. He aimed to better
his career and move up the ladder. But an old hand told
him one day that as an Asian he would never make it to
the top of the firm. He advised him to set up his own.
Sarosh was not oblivious to the grandee’s
observations – all the top City maritime firms were
headed by Britons or Europeans, while Asians and
Blacks stuck to immigration laws on the fringes of
“Although I received a great deal of support from
my legal fraternity and British judges, some in the elite
Commercial Court, were not used to seeing a non-white
solicitor appearing in Court,” Sarosh said in an interview
with Business Matters magazine.
One thing that he had refrained from doing was to
anglicise his Indian name, which he found later to be an
advantage for him. He says very proudly, “I am an Indian
by birth, British by nationality.”
Sarosh decided he could make a niche for himself
by setting up an Asian-headed maritime law firm dealing
with Asian firms involved in the shipping business in
With a bank loan of £10,000 he founded Zaiwalla &
Co in April 1982 with offices in Chancery Lane, in the
heart of London’s Law fraternity. He is the first Asian to
set up a law firm in the City of London and after being
in practice for many years is well-respected in London.
The challenge ahead of him was that he was not
going to join the traditional speciality of Asian lawyers
dotted around London suburbs of Southall, Wembley
and Ealing – immigration. He wanted to do something
In his early years, he was lucky to meet the then
Indian High Commissioner in UK, a former lawyer.
UK’s Attorney General Dominic Grieve pays a rare tribute to
Sarosh Zaiwalla at the House of Lords party.
for the President of India which won in the then House
of Lords. Similarly, the recent Supreme Court Bank
Mellat case against the UK government came to us
after the client lost in both the High Court and Court of
Appeal using another city firm.”
He takes a hands-on role in the activities of his
practice and ensures the involvement of all his teammembers in case work. His company has scores of
highly satisfied clients at home and abroad.
After a full week’s work Sarosh escapes to a house
by the seaside every Friday evening. He takes his work
with him on the weekends but does not see any clients.
Sarosh’s work has received global acclaim. In 2002
the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee
awarded him India’s Annual National Law Day award for
his outstanding contribution in International Arbitration
Two years later, Sarosh had the honour to be
personally asked by the Dalai Lama to facilitate a
dialogue with China with a view to finding a peaceful
resolution to Tibet.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon invited
Zaiwalla in 2007 for an extensive face-to-face
consultation on issues relating to World Order.
He was also appointed an Arbitrator to the Panel
of Arbitrators by the Korean Commercial Arbitration
Law runs deeply in the veins of the Zaiwalla family.
“I believe that in 1925 my father was the first Asian to
qualify as a solicitor in London.”
His daughter Freya and son Varun are part of a
twelve-strong team that form the backbone of the
practice. TII
The diplomat took a great interest in a company
with an Indian name and appointed him as the High
Commission’s lawyer. This gave a boost to the young
solicitor’s career.
The challenge in his early days was getting
acceptance from the Asian community in Britain. He
decided to go abroad to get work, travelling to India,
China, Mongolia and Africa. Today 95 percent of his
practice is export orientated bringing in a multi-million
dollar turn-over.
Sarosh Zaiwalla’s mission was to foster business
links and so he took advantage of his Parsi origins
and looked towards Iran from where his ancestors had
emigrated to India more than ten centuries ago.
His big break came when he landed work with
the Hinduja Group, the powerful Indian conglomerate,
which was doing business in Iran during the regime of
the Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi.
Photos Shamlal Puri and courtesy.
The Hinduja Group continued
in business even after the fall of
Shamlal Puri, TII’s Contributing Editor, a
the Shah and Sarosh handled their
veteran British journalist, broadcaster, author
maritime disputes in London.
and press photographer. He has worked with
He became well known for his
the media in Europe, Africa, Asia and the
work for the Hindujas. Soon after
Middle East. His novels ‘Dubai on Wheels:
that the Indian High Commission in
The Slippery Road to Success’ and ‘Triangle
London appointed him their maritime
of Terror’ (Diamond Books) are acclaimed
bestsellers. His next novel ‘The Illegals’
An interesting aspect of Zaiwalla’s
(Crownbird Publishers) will be published
practice is, as he put it to Business
this year. He has travelled to more than
Matters, “We take difficult cases that
100 countries in an illustrious journalistic
other firms reject at first instance.
career spanning 40 years. His work has been
Some of our most prestigious wins
published in more than 250 magazines,
have been matters where the client
newspapers and journals around the
was told by city firms that they stood
no chance. They came to us desperate
for a new take and we have won
the case for them. One of my first Zaiwalla & Co’s 30th anniversary dinner publicised
in the UK national media.
cases was a ‘no chance’ matter
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Rudy Otter
Looking back on a
Home Sweet Homeland
Anglo-Indians left India thinking they would not be wanted after the
British left, and the country lost one of its most vibrant assets
n Anglo-Indian international quarterly magazine called
“Anglos In The Wind”, based in Chennai, India, has
just published two consecutive issues simultaneously
on a topic of absorbing interest to its readers, judging by the
Earlier, Anglo-Indian publisher-editor Harry MacLure had
asked readers whether they thought a “Homeland State” for
their 300,000-strong community would have persuaded most
of them to stay on in a newly independent India.
Although we Anglo-Indians left in droves after 1947, mainly
to Britain but also to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and
elsewhere, there had been “erstwhile attempts,” as MacLure
says, as long ago as the 1930s, to create our own enclaves in
India, most notably McCluskieganj up north in Bihar, Whitefield
in Bangalore and the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
Regrettably all those efforts, strenuously backed by
dynamic Anglo-Indian community leaders Sir Henry Gidney
and his successor Frank Anthony, failed to stem the flow of our
fellowmen and women out of India, puncturing all hopes of a
unique Anglo Homeland.
As stalwart supporters of the British Raj, we Anglo-Indians
did not see much of a future for ourselves in an independent,
muscle-flexing India, having witnessed hordes of Indians
brandishing “Quit India” banners and chanting ‘Jai Hind! All
that hostility, we believed, was aimed not only at the British
colonialists but also at ourselves. It was time to go.
I wrote two articles on this topic for MacLure’s Homeland
issues. The first one, headed “Anyone for Gorastan?” reflects
the Anglo-Indian obsession with the white part of our dual
ancestry. “Our only desire,” I wrote, “in the frenetic period
leading up to India’s Independence was to get out as quickly as
possible.” We feared that Indians would gain the “upper hand”
and treat us badly for having sided with our British masters
who in turn “mollycoddled us.” We feared Indians would force
us to learn Hindi properly (a totally unacceptable proposition in
those blinkered times). What’s more, Indians would expect us
to abandon our western clothing and wear dhotis and saris,
another perceived outrage. To cap it all, the cheeky blighters
would think nothing of making amorous advances towards our
daughters, a scandalous prospect!
I reminded readers how our leader Frank Anthony did
his best to persuade Anglo-Indians to stay put in India. In a
1946 speech in Bombay, he said: “We are Anglo-Indians by
community and have reason to be proud of ourselves. We
Intrepid Anglo-Indian women enjoying life on their farms
Pioneers initially lived in tents, camp style
made a contribution to India out of all proportion to our size to Indians, unthinkable when the British were in charge. On
in the military, aviation, engineering. Let us cling to everything
another occasion, an irate Hindu man berated her and her
we hold dear, our English language and our way of life. But
husband for holding hands in public and advised them to get
let us always remember that we are Indian; that we have an
out of the country for such disgraceful behaviour. Moreover her
inalienable Indian background. The more we love and are loyal
husband’s firm sent letters to all its English-speaking workers
to India, the more India will love and be loyal to us.”
requiring them to communicate in written Hindi in future, a
We didn’t care for his assertion that “we are Indian” development that alarmed them.
oh dear me, no. We actually rejoiced in having great-greatEditor MacLure and his team visited various Anglogreat English and Welsh grandfathers, and great-great-great
Indian enclaves and regarded McCluskieganj as a “humbling
Scottish and Irish grandmothers, while refusing to admit,
experience.” He writes of them having to adjust to jungle life,
as I wrote, that we had “any Indian blood whatsoever, even
build their homes from scratch. The 20 remaining families, out
though most of us bore a slight or pronounced resemblance
of an original peak of 250, were displaying “courage against
to Indians.” Actually we come in four shades - some white,
the odds,” having to put up with erratic electricity supplies that
many light brown, many more medium brown and dark brown.
arrived only a few years ago, and the nearest hospital a twoIn 1939, the Colonization Observer newspaper reported
hour drive away.
that our first leader, Sir Henry Gidney, on a visit to London,
Reader Dr Beatrix D’Souza met Kitty Texeira whom older
asked the British government for £5 million towards a
McCluskieganj residents remember as being “very pretty with
Homeland for Anglo-Indians in India, “on any terms you
her blue eyes and golden hair.” Her mother was the daughter of
like,” Gidney declared, “and we will develop a state in India
E. D. Robert who had been personal assistant to Sir William
that shall be second to none.” No doubt he had
Reed, Governor of Assam. Kitty’s father, an army man,
McCluskieganj in mind, at least initially.
had bought 56 acres of land and the family, one
I describe we Anglo-Indians as a “muchof the earliest settlers, were considered well off.
misunderstood...unique... fun-loving, foodKitty married a tribal man, the couple have
crazy community, more than 90 per cent
four children and run an orchard. Sari-clad
of whom ran the Indian Railways with the
Kitty sells fruit at the local railway station.
rest employed by the police, government
Another reader, Maureen Jenkins,
telegraphs, customs & excise and other
writes a four-page article on her beloved
spheres.” Hardly a community suited to
enclave, Kolar Gold Fields, near
the rural way of life in the enclaves they
Bangalore, made famous by Tippu Sultan
hoped would thrive, but surprisingly some
discovering gold there and providing work
Anglo-Indians hung on and are still in those
for Anglo-Indians in the mines. Referring to
enclaves today, toughing it out.
their social life, she quips: “Some children
Reader Yvonne Fischer, in her article
learned to dance before they could walk.”
titled “Why I left India” realized how life was
However, having to learn Hindi and later
shaping up in independent India when
the state language put the wind up many
Christa Moss with her husband Lionel
she and another Anglo-Indian female
Anglo-Indians who sought their fortunes
at their bungalow on Borewell Road,
applied for advertised clerical vacancies in
Madras’ Railway Office. All six jobs went
There were other articles, on
Whitefield near Bangalore where Christa Moss and her
husband Lionel still live. She writes a long and interesting poem
charting the fate of this Anglo-Indian enclave, now severely
depleted in numbers as residents migrated. Here is one verse
on Whitefield:
“While brass bands on Sunday lustily played communal
picnics in the shade Gymkhanas and other sporting events
audiences sipping their beer in tents...”
Other articles included the palm-thronged Andaman
Islands where some Anglo-Indians tried to carve a life out for
themselves but largely gave up and left. Blair Williams writes
that neither the British nor Indian governments would have
“seriously entertained” the idea of turning those islands into an
Anglo-Indian Homeland.
Editor Harry MacLure bemoans the fact that the British,
chief architects of the Anglo-Indian community, abandoned
us after Indian Independence. He writes: “It is perhaps wishful
thinking but what a wonderful thing it would have been if
Anglo-Indians were indeed given the opportunity to have their
own territorial state within India.
“It would have been another feather in India’s cultural cap
and would certainly have strengthened her defence forces.
We would have enabled India to hold sway in international
hockey as well as bring home Olympic medals in athletics and
boxing. Country music would have found another colourful
home alongside Nashville and Tamworth. Anglo-Indians would
have made their mark not just on the Indian map but the world
map as well. Anglo-Indians who did make the big time abroad
included singers Engelbert Humperdinck and Sir Cliff Richard,
and Hollywood actress Merle Oberon.”
Reader Ralph Baycross writes that Anglo-Indian
“emigration was the best option.“ Those who settled outside
India have done exceedingly well for themselves, securing
good jobs and pensions.” He applauds Anglo-Indians across
the diaspora for banding together to help our “poor, unfortunate
brethren” still in India. Blair Williams, already quoted, is wellknown for doing an enormous amount of charity work for
those destitute Anglo-Indians.
In the second of my two articles, headed “Gated way to
Happiness,” I suggested that Anglo-Indians in India may wish
to think about setting up something “less ambitious” than a
Homeland, namely to go in for several gated communities all
over India and organizing exchange visits, sports tournaments
and so on with one another, just the type of activities that
“Anglos In The Wind” magazine would love to cover.
Meanwhile, Anglo-Indian film producer Paul Harris has
made a DVD of his documentary, “Dreams of a Homeland”.
Visit his website: for more details. TII
Rudy Otter is a freelance journalist in the UK
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Anita Thomas
A Family in Every Country
Families who move countries regularly share a certain spirit, an
‘impermanence’, paradoxically leading to strong and lasting bonds.
he annual school hiatus – summer breaks,
October breaks, Christmas breaks and Easter
breaks – often signal transitions; departures,
goodbyes and heartbreaks, friends moving away, pink
slips and uncertainties (given current times), graduations
and moving on.
Transition and change, ever present in our lives, was
never more highlighted than when Aideen invited me
to join a public speaking group – parents from school
– all ascending the learning curve of standing up and
speaking out – without fear, with confidence.
My first instinct was to say no, in alarm and
consternation. And then in a rush, before I had time to
think it over, I emailed her a yes and took a deep breath.
I said yes because it was Aideen – friend and
erstwhile neighbor – and our shared history spanned
leaking roofs, feuding pets, a common gate, a marauding
python, garage sales and some very interesting dinners
and barbecues … so why not ‘public speaking’?
With eight parents, interestingly almost all of the
themes had to do with the very essence of being an
impermanent resident – transitions, stepping out of
comfort zones, challenges, unwritten pages, chapters
closed and chapters beginning.
Aideen held up Spencer Johnson’s book Who
Moved My Cheese ? and proceeded to sketch the
analogies between our personal calendar of desires – a
different lifestyle, a job, a relationship, money, freedom,
health, recognition, spiritual peace … or even public
speaking … and the simple story line of the book (of
mice and men and what happens when the cheese
– aka comfort zones aka security aka certitudes –
suddenly disappears).
The parallels were simple.
The reality of our lives, she said, is change, continual
change; difficult, uncomfortable, frightening, sometimes
all of it all at the same time. Our community is, by its very
definition, transitory and at the beginning of a school
year, we are either moving our families to a new country
– or continent – or some of our friends or colleagues
are. And we lose them. New families arrive and we
welcome them; we accommodate them in our lives.
Or, it is the time when our children have finished
school and are leaving home, continuing their education,
not in a town or city just a few hours drive away, but
across continents. Australia, Europe. Perhaps the
Change … difficult, uncomfortable, frightening;
sometimes all of it all at the same time. And we learn
to anticipate it, almost always proactively. And when it
happens, we embrace it.
With two minutes for an impromptu delivery, a
quote from John Lilly found immediate resonance: Our
only security is our ability to change. And our reality I
wondered ? It has to be our shared differences. Local
or expatriate, resident or non-resident, visitor or native –
the phases come and go and we are continually in flux;
some more than others.
Impermanents aka impermanent residents shoulder
additional challenges – the guilt and the fact of aging
parents in distant countries, adapting to different
cultures and climates, myriad education systems, the
absence of family support groups, the leaving behind of
good friends, the need to create comfort zones for the
children and the family, multiple homes, the giving up
of jobs, the learning of new languages, the inexorable
building of friendships and relationships, the putting
down of tentative roots; the providing of stability while
acknowledging the impermanence … and the circle
begins all over again.
On the flip side are opportunities – and the time – to
build bridges spanning the familiar and newly found. TII
Anita Thomas is a Singapore based writer and photographer you
can read more of her articles on her blog: http://sayangsingapore.
Guptara Garmagaram Upsetting India
Everyone was shocked by the results of the Delhi elections: a political party
did not even exist a few months ago.
Prabhu Guptara
Aam Aadmi Party
Upsetting India
Here are the facts:
Delhi Legislative Assembly election, 2013
Everyone was shocked by the results of the Delhi elections: Aam Aadmi is
a political party which did not even exist a few months ago.
ost Indians have still to recognise the
significance of the results: the notable thing
is that even though BJP won a plurality of
seats, it actually lost votes - in spite of Narendra Modi’s
supposedly charismatic and magnetic drawing power,
the BJP’s vote share actually declined!
The results were not only a slap on the wrist for
Congress, they were also a shock for BJP – after
the announcement of the election results, the BJP
leadership initially boasted that they would still provide
the government for Delhi, but when it actually came
to the decision, they did not dare to come up to the
AAP had already announced that it would not work
with anyone’s support, and wisely made clear the
minimum agreement necessary before it would work
with any party. Its 18 point minimum demand is too
extensive to list here, but included items which were
bound to be totally unacceptable to both Congress as
well as to BJP, such as: The VIP culture to be stopped
in Delhi: no MLA, minister or Delhi official to use a red
beacon on their cars, nor live in big bungalows or be
provided any security greater than is available to the
ordinary citizen; locally-relevant decisions to be taken
directly by the local citizens in ‘mohalla sabhas’ every
locality and colony; complete statehood status for
Delhi: the Central Government’s hold on organisations
like the Police and the Delhi Development Authority to
be ended; an audit of all electricity companies in the
national capital from the time these were privatised:
licences to be cancelled for any companies that
refuse to participate; all unauthorised colonies to be
regularised (thirty percent of Delhi’s population lives in
such colonies); clean and affordable ‘pakka houses’
(properly built houses) for those living in slums; regular
jobs for all those working on contractual bases; roads,
electricity, water and other basic facilities to all street
traders; setting up enough courts and appoint judges so
that all uncleared cases are dealt with within six months;
and, all sexual harassment cases to be investigated,
prosecuted and judgments delivered within three
months. As one person put it on an internet chat group:
“AAP had guts to put conditions and his conditions are
exactly the demand of people”. Another put it this way:
“I am a supporter of Congress and if they do not agree
on most of the AAP’s points, I think I will have to think
about realigning my support” – I am sure the refusal of
BJP to support the AAP agenda will also have led to
most BJP supporters considering whether their support
for BJP should be discontinued.
It was clear to me and to any other clear-eyed
observer that no such minimum agreement would be
forthcoming (it is entirely contrary to the spirit an modus
operandi of both Congress and BJP).
It is also clear that we will have a re-vote for Delhi
around the time of the National Elections – and that,
unless AAP does something extremely stupid before
then, on BJP or Congress do something extraordinarily
smart, AAP should then win the Delhi re-vote by a clear
if not outright margin.
What AAP’s triumph signifies is a shock to the entire
political culture in India which has slowly declined since
Independence, and became totally reliant on moneypower, muscle-power and caste-based calculations.
While caste-based calculations may still have some
hold in the less-developed parts of the country (that
is, of course, the actual reason those areas are lessLike this article? Scan for a free download
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in seats
% of
in %
of vote
% of
Up 28 from
66% Voters
Up from zero
to 30%
evident that many if not most eminent thought leaders
developed), it is clear that their hold is declining and
Most Indians have still to recognise the significance
of the results: the notable thing
will soon be a thing of the past. At least if ethics- and
from the country will be with such a front, once it is
lost votes - in spite of
law-based parties such as AAP deliver administrative
performance that matches their promise.
Can India move beyond
of the Delhi
Given the economic and political structure of our
elections to upsetting the entire direction of corruption
and incompetence in which it has gone increasingly
country, that cannot be delivered if any such party
not inonly
a slap
on the
wrist for
were also aIf shock
a few
As the
in the
decades since
so, it will upset
BJP – of
the announcement
of the
who are the
the country
is steeply pyramidal,
for Delhi,
but when
as well
the top of
and corruption.
But some
upsets it
good ones. TII
it is necessary
for such
to the decision,
they did
not ethicallydare to come up to the platform.
based parties also to have power at the national level.
Prof. Prabhu Guptara has written the above in an entirely
The challenge before AAP and similar parties
private capacity, and none of the above should be related in any
elsewhere in the country is that of scaling up their effort.
way to any of the companies or organisations with which he is
There are efforts for such parties to come together on
now, or has been associated in the past. His personal website
the basis of a minimum common agenda in order to
is www. He blogs at: www.prabhuguptara.
form a united national Rule-of-Law Front. It has already
Bandana Jain
Elections 2014
TII introduces ‘Debate’, a new column that will discuss various burning issues of the
day, with views from readers who would like to have a say in what’s happening in
Desh Aur Diaspora.
a majority. There will have to be a coalition and the result may
be as messy as before.
SS: The NDA led by BJP should win Election 2014 because the
UPA has ruled for ten years successively. Corruption and antiincumbency are the reasons that have led Congress to lose its
credibility as a governing party. Hence, the BJP becomes the
obvious choice.
BS: Congress is preferred, but the regional parties’ inefficiency
in having proper governance could cast a catastrophe effect
on the Congress. It has performed well independently. The
economy was intact, i.e. the fiscal deficit for 2012-13 worked
out lower at 4.89 per cent of the GDP, not significantly below
the revised estimate of 5.2 per cent. Indian companies
achieved milestones during the past decade and it’s no secret.
TII: Who, according to you is a good candidate for the
upcoming 2014 Elections, and why?
Ashwin Kathpalia
Marine Consultant
Cleghorn, Wilton & Associates
Bagavadeeswar S.
3Eg Group.
TII: Which party would you vote for and why?
Ashwin Kathpalia: I would vote for BJP or AAP ( Aam Aadmi
Party). All parties are the same but a change sometimes brings
about better results.
Shekhar Sinha: I would vote for BJP for the simple reason that
BJP appears less dangerous than Congress. With a slew of
corruption cases that have been seen in the past ten years of
Congress rule, BJP seems to have a stronger footing this time.
General Manager
Middle East/South Asia, Interbulk
renewal and economic stability to the re-modeling of taxation
and infrastructure development. Autonomous power to CBI,
education for all and women empowerment are also key issues
of the upcoming elections.
TII: How do you think that the option of voting for none of
the parties has changed the election scenario?
SS: Opting for ‘none of the above’ is just an expression on the
part of the voter that signifies his distaste. This option will not
impact the elections as such because the concept of ‘majority
wins’ still prevails. Change should come as a revolution from
the people and society and not from the electoral system.
Hence, it is not likely to affect the results but will definitely
influence the mindset of candidates in future.
TII: What, according to you is the agenda/key issues of the
upcoming elections?
BS: The art of politics is Plan-Do-Act- cycle. Any such decision
of voting for none of the parties will lead all to retrospect the
events, corrective action and prevention.
BS: There are several items on the agenda ranging from rural
SS: According to me, none of the candidates are good
enough. It is sad that eligible people like Anna Hazare, Kiran
Bedi, scientists, etc. are missing in the contesters’ list. To cite
an example, ex- President APJ Abdul Kalam Azad (previously
a scientist) used his position constructively by bringing about
radical changes in the science and technology scene in India.
We need more candidates like him.
BS: To a certain extent, I feel that India will go for a hung
parliament. But power- greedy regional parties may cost the
Congress and create the most instability for the nation.
TII: What measures should be taken to ensure a fair
political system in India?
AK: The JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee for various
purchases and investigations) should consist of non-politicians
like eminent personalities of the particular field for which the
JPC has been formed including citizen –forum representatives.
All the JPC findings and approvals should be put up online
since it is public money (except for a case of national security).
Only parliamentarians having qualifications and experience
in that particular field should be members of the respective
JPC. Eliminate concessions based on religion, colour, creed &
caste. Any concession should be solely based on a person’s
economic condition. Religious activity should not be allowed
on the streets.
SS: Have a check list monitored by a constitutional authority.
Secondly, all details of the public administration should be
available to the public for scrutiny. Have a bi-party system
rather than a multi-party system, which leads to a fragmented
or shared mandate and this system enables a party with votes
as less as 30% to form a government. Lastly, there should
be a mandatory educational qualification of graduation with no
criminal background.
“Eliminate concessions based on religion, colour, creed and caste. Any
concession should be solely based on a person’s economic condition.”
AK: With this new option, candidates will know that they are
not wanted.
Bagavadeeswar S: Congress! Congress is the party that made
the nation survive the economic crisis. The party established
the best leadership tactics and stability that was required for
the nation. Presently the party has a clear 5P agenda whereby
changes to match tomorrow’s world for India are in place. We
are one nation to bring knowledge to one and all. The motto of
‘educare for all’ will lead us to the future.
AK: Corruption, inflation and government failure are the key
issues of the upcoming elections. It is true that things don’t
change overnight but since independence, Congress has
ruled for the longest period and hence, they are responsible
for today’s India.
SS: Corruption is the main agenda.
Shekhar Sinha
AK: Narendra Modi (BJP) seems to be a better choice since
he has shown sustained development in Gujarat and may be
in a position to repeat the same for the rest of the country.
Moreover, too much of democracy is not good with such a
large population and he may be able to bring in some discipline
but that would depend on the majority that he gets.
SS: I don’t think that India will go for a hung parliament this
time. If the NDA comes to power, it will form its own party,
while the UPA is likely to take support of regional parties like
BSP, SP, etc.
TII: According to you, which party will win the upcoming
2014 elections and why?
AK: There is no clarity, as such. I don’t think any party will get
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BS: Rahul Gandhi is young and energetic. His experience for
the past few years will yield the best governance. Also, he
represents the young lot who are open to new ideas. Congress
has people who have shaped the country. The first option is,
having the manifesto decided by the people, for the people.
If given an opportunity to have an independent majority,
Congress will perform the best without any doubts.
TII: Do you think India is again going for hung parliament
mode? Will the regional parties play a major role in forming
the govt.?
AK: Today and in future, I don’t think any party will ever get
a 2/3rd majority. Since India is already divided in terms of
religion and language, to keep their political ambitions alive,
the regional parties and candidates are able to exert more
influence on the local population. A federal system is therefore
the most suitable for India. However, politicians do not want
this as they will not be able to siphon out money for their gains
from the central kitty.
BS: Simplification of governance and access for people to the
representatives coupled with transparency, enhancing value
based education to all, and favouring farmers directly without
TII: What do you miss the most when elections are taking
place in India?
AK: Debates between party candidates which normally
happens in UK, USA, etc is something that I miss during
elections in India. There is no face - off between the candidates.
Some TV channels have made attempts to do so but not in a
very successful manner.
BS: My participation in deciding the future of our nation!
Bandana Jain is a freelance writer based in Dubai covering art,
travel, health, education, lifestyle and personalities.
real estate has provided steady returns to investors over long term despite an economy gloom.
For those NRIs looking at a longer term investment this is a good time to buy a property in Indian market as the
property today is available at good discounts and second the demand is likely to catch up with the prospects of a
political stability post assembly election in second half of 2014. In this article you will find emerging
for investments in 2014 based on their strategic locations, upcoming infrastructure developments, arbitrage
opportunities and availability of land for development.
Surabhi Arora
Areas To Watch For
Investments In
n 2013, caution was the dominating factor affecting
investors, as well as end users in the real estate
market, due to the prevailing economic risks.
However, as the Indian real estate market is a sentiment
driven market, residential real estate has provided
steady returns to investors over the long term despite
an economy gloom.
For those NRIs looking at a longer term investment
this is a good time to buy a property in the Indian
market as property today is available at good discounts
and second the demand is likely to catch up with the
prospects of political stability post assembly elections
in the second half of 2014. In this article you will find
emerging areas suitable for investments in 2014 based
on their strategic locations, upcoming infrastructure
developments, arbitrage opportunities and availability
of land for development.
Mumbai Island City – Wadala & Sewri
Wadala and Sewri are parts of the 7 islands of the city of
Mumbai and were the most neglected regions in terms
of development until recently. In 2010, large tracts of
mills and Bombay Port Trust land was made available
and thus arose an opportunity for development of
premium residential projects over there. For people
who want to reside in the ‘island city’, this provides an
attractive opportunity, located close to employment
The area is hardly 30 minutes away from
commercial hubs like the Bandra-Kurla-Complex (BKC)
and developed residential micro-markets like Worli,
Prabhadevi, Parel, Matunga, Sion and Dadar. The
Eastern freeway project has tremendously improved road
connectivity of this micro market with CBD in the south.
Moreover, the established train network connects it to
Mumbai CST in the island city zone, Andheri in western,
Vashi and CBD Belapur in Navi Mumbai. The Mumbai
Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA)
plans to develop 109 hectares of land of Wadala as a
new commercial hub like BKC and further infrastructure
plans such as Sewri-Nhava Sheva trans-harbor link
and the monorail project are the growth stimulators for
this area. Indicative capital values for prime residential
properties vary between INR 20,000 – 35,000 per sq.
ft. This is approximately 40 to 50% less than nearby
locations of Prabhadevi and Worli.
NCR – Southern Peripheral Road
The Southern Peripheral Road (SPR), a 150 meterwide road is a part of New Gurgaon that is drawing
the attention of many end-users and investors. SPR is
positioned as an up-market location which is expected
to fetch a handsome appreciation in the years to come.
Excellent connectivity to existing commercial hubs
like Sohna Road, Golf Course Extension Road and
developments on NH-8, is the prime demand driver of
this location. The New Gurgaon-Sohna Master Plan 2031 focuses to develop major infrastructure on SPR
like metro connectivity, link to Gurgaon-Faridabad Road
and extending the SPR into a six-lane expressway.
Developers such as Unitech Ltd, Raheja Developers,
IREO, Parsvanath, BPTP, Vipul, and Emmar MGF have
large tracts of land in this area. Many developers such as
Tata, Unitech, BPTP and Spaze have already launched
their premium projects in this location. Apartments
being developed in this micro-market are typically 3
and 4 BHK of 1,500 to 3,000 sq. ft. Currently, these
projects are priced in the range of 5,000 to 9,500 which
is approximately 20% to 30% less than the nearby
residential hubs such as Golf Course Extension Road
and Sohna Road.
Bengaluru – Thanisandra
Thanisandra, located towards the north-eastern
region of Bangalore has been emerging as a popular
affordable investment destination. . It caters to the
housing requirements of the IT/ITeS catchments
present along the north-eastern corridor. This area has
recently come under the domain of BBMP. The area
is poised to develop in the coming years due to the
expansion of the main road as an alternative road to
Bangalore International Airport. Recent developments
have transformed this area into an urban locality with all
the modern amenities and accessibilities. The area now
is dotted with apartments, companies, schools and
other educational institutions. The major reason driving
the spurt in development of real estate is the overall
connectivity through the ORR towards commercial
hubs, the Central Business District and proximity to the
airport. Large commercial establishments like Manyata
Tech Park have also had significant impact in the growth
of this region.
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Areas to watch for Investment in Major Indian Cities
Areas to watch for Investment in Major Indian Cities
Values (INR
Values (AED
Bracket Ticket
Size (INR Crore)
Bracket Ticket
Size (AED
2.50 - 9.50
1.47 - 5.60
Wadala & Sewri
20,000 35,000
Southern Peripheral
5,000 - 9,500
0.75 – 2.00
0.44 – 1.18
3,000 - 5,000
0.35 – 1.50
0.21 – 0.88
Navallur and Siruseri
3,500 - 4,500
0.40 - 1.30
0.24 – 0.77
Hinjewadi, Baner &
3,500 – 7,500
0.60 – 1.50
0.35 – 0.88
EM Bypass
5,000 - 9,000
0.60 – 2.00
0.35 – 1.18
Source: Colliers International India Research
Note: Exchange rate used for conversion in above table is 1AED = 16.95 INR as on 6th Jan 2014
Mumbai Island City – Wadala & Sewri
Major developer’s like Sobha, Mantri and Bearys,
city and the IT-hub of sector 5 and Rajarhat makes
have and
theof Mumbai
this an
Sewri established
are parts of the
7 islands
of theincity
were the most
regions Capital
in terms values
market until
with recently.
of residential
In 2010,
large tracts
mill and Bombay
Port Trust
land wasalong
thus have
of arose
their an
The for
of projects
have been
the past
5 years.
of premium
projects overby
who want
to reside
developed by Grade “A” developers and match up to
28,000 apartments are planned in this area. Capital
the ‘island city’, this provides an attractive opportunity, located close to employment hubs.
the high levels of construction quality associated with
values here range between INR 5,000 to 9,000 per
the same. The projects have a majority of apartments
sq. ft.
area is hardly
minutes away
the commercial
in The
the 2BHK
& 3BHK
of these
projects hubs like Bandra-Kurla-Complex (BKC) and developed
like Worli,
and Dadar.Baner
The Eastern
freeway project has
like clubhouses,
pools, Parel,
etc., Matunga,
- Hinjewadi,
& Wakad
road connectivity
micro market
CBD in the
the & Wakad in
from providing
and power of
the western
established train network connects it to Mumbai CST in the island
city zone,
and Siruseri.
due the proximity
via the109
Belapur -inNavallur
Navi Mumbai.
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development
to develop
are ofthe
clusters located
and infrastructure
to the Special
Zones and IT/
of Wadalaresidential
as a new commercial
hub like BKC
and further
such as Sewri-Nhava
the south oflink
the and
city monorail
in close proximity
is a large
Sheva trans-harbor
project areofthe
growth ITeS
for this area.
- the IT/ITES and industrial hub of Chennai. Connectivity
accommodation because of which the area is favoured
to the prime localities of CBD (Central Business District)
by investors. A number of projects have been launched
and ongoing infrastructure development initiatives
in this area recently in the price band of INR 3,300 –
like the ‘Elevated Highway Project’ along OMR (Old
7,500 per sq. ft. TII
Mahabalipuram Road) and 6 lane roads is attracting
investors to the residential projects in these micromarkets. At present, capital values range from INR
3,500 to 4,500 per sq. ft. and expect to appreciate
significantly in the coming years.
Kolkata – EM Bypass
Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, a 21 km peripheral
bypass with a six lane road has emerged as a preferred
destination of real estate investors. There are a number
of connecting roads that link the bypass to major hubs
of the city along its route. Improved connectivity to the
For More information please contact:
Surabhi Arora | Associate Director | Research
[email protected]
Feby Imthias
Indian students are well represented across all programs at UOWD
Great Educational Expectations
Indian parents have high academic priority for their wards. So does the
higher education scene in UAE meet their high expectations? Feby Imthias
explores the views of top Indian educational experts in the UAE.
AE stands as a land of dreams for many who
come in search of its bounties and partake in
its achievements. An average Indian dream
comprises a classy home, a posh car, well educated
kids and a decent nest egg for retirement. 99 percent
of Indian parents, accord high priority for their child’s
The opportunity for higher education in the UAE
has taken a leap in recent years. UAE has seen
much empowerment in terms of higher education
and subsequently students from the UAE can now
start competing on a global level. UAE has become
a preferred place for many youngsters to ‘work and
study’ simultaneously.
Peter Hawke is the Director of Marketing and Student
Recruitment at the University of Wollongong in Dubai
which has been at the forefront of providing quality and
region-specific programs that have helped students find
placements in some of the most prestigious corporations
and organizations locally and internationally
With students from over 100 nationalities on
campus, UOWD provides a uniquely diverse learning
environment that prepares students for life in a global
community. Developing communication skills, poise,
and experiencing an international environment is integral
to the UOWD experience, as students learn alongside
their peers from across the globe.
Peter Hawke observes, “Leadership and
communication are interwoven throughout all academic
and non-academic activities at UOWD. The curriculum
is designed to nurture future business leaders by
developing skills in management, communication, and
cultural and professional awareness.”
The university also has a dynamic extra-curricular
environment, including a dedicated leadership
development program, which helps students to develop
their employability skills outside the classroom.
“UOWD has always been a market-driven
institution, which is reflected in the evolution of many
of our programs. For example, UOWD established the
first postgraduate program in Logistics when the UAE
began to emerge as a regional hub for the sector, and
created the first Masters Degree in Quality Management,
which remains the only program of its kind in Dubai,”
said Hawke.
UOWD has an excellent record for job placements,
with many graduates holding prominent positions in
public and private sectors in the UAE and beyond. The
university is proactive in engaging with local employers
to develop and tailor courses to address emerging
industry trends and a number of programs have
received recognition from relevant industry bodies. This
gives UOWD graduates a real competitive advantage in
the job market.
The UAE has a diverse and growing professional
landscape and, with a growing knowledge economy,
employment prospects for graduates and postgraduates
are buoyant. Having emerged as a global center of
commerce, Dubai in particular has a strong business
base in a range of sectors such as finance, technology,
logistics and media. These knowledge-based industries
require highly skilled personnel, and many UOWD
undergraduates are returning for a Masters qualification
in order to remain competitive in the job market.
Indian students are well represented across all
program areas at UOWD from business, management
and finance, to computer science and engineering.
There is growing evidence that graduates of
‘generalist degrees’ are highly employable, as these
programs provide an all-round education that helps
them develop a broad knowledge base and skill set
relevant to a wide range of business sectors.
Another relevant point stated by Hawke, “The value
of a degree is as much about the competencies a
student develops in the course of their studies as the
knowledge they acquire about a particular subject.
Employers are increasingly seeking graduates with a
broad general education, who they can then train-up in
the skills of a particular profession.”
Undergraduate programs at UOWD provide students
with these broad foundations in business, technology or
finance, which can be honed through elective majors.
Masters level programs tend to be more focused on a
particular discipline, allowing graduates to specialize in
a specific subject, and professional learners to develop
skills aligned to their area of work.
Industry relevance is also vital to employability and
UOWD’s programs are built upon an industry-focused
syllabus, offering exposure to the latest business
intelligence and providing professional recognition from
relevant industry bodies.
As the dominant demographic at UOWD, it is
gratifying to see that Indian students are benefiting from
the multicultural environment, as much as contributing
to it. They are enthusiastic participants in activities led
by student societies representing other nationalities and
cultures, including the Pakistani Student Association,
Amra Notun (Bangladeshi student society), the Muslim
Student Association, and so on. This helps to foster a
culture of collegiality and mutual understanding, which
is essential preparation for working in an international
business environment.
Academic excellence is at the heart of all programs
delivered by UOWD. The curriculum and teaching
practices at UOWD reflect those of UOW in Australia,
which is the 12th highest ranked Australian University,
among the top 25 young universities, and in the top 2%
of all universities worldwide.
The UAE has previously traded on being an
‘economical alternative’ to other overseas study
options such as the USA, UK, Australia, Canada etc.
However, while cost efficiency is still an important
factor, the UAE is now emerging as a knowledge hub
in its own right, having recently been named the fourth
favorite ‘Education Destination’ in a study conducted
in association with Deloitte . Studying in the UAE gives
students a different perspective as they are learning in
a diverse, multicultural environment unlike anywhere in
Europe, North America or Australia.
There is a growing trend for Indian students to
elect to study at institutions like UOWD, and they are
the largest demographic on the UOWD campus. Our
academic programs are aligned with those of UOW in
Australia, and students can obtain a UOW degree on
graduation from UOWD. “This means that studying at
UOWD gives them the opportunity to obtain a degree
from a traditional western university, but in a location
closer to home, which is an attractive option for both
domestic and inbound Indian students,” says Hawke.
Professor Christopher Abraham is the Head of Dubai
Campus and Senior Vice President at SP Jain Center
of Management which is one of Asia’s top ranked
business schools with campuses in Dubai, Mumbai,
Singapore and Sydney.
S P Jain has pioneered a radical revolutionary
concept called “Business Education 2.0” which takes
conventional education to a completely new level.
This approach includes a rigorous focus on business
concepts and training in real life skills along with the
unique opportunity to study and work in three worldclass cities -Dubai, Singapore and Sydney. “This makes
our students globally relevant and ready to take on any
challenge in any part of the world,” notes Abraham with
“At S P Jain we run an important initiative known
as “Passport to Excellence” that actually trains and
develops our students in key business areas and this
results in their remarkable career success.
Since leadership and communication skills are two
key requirements apart from emotional intelligence,
Indian students need to be trained in these strategic
differentiators,” quips the professor.
The market needs students with global knowledge,
Prof Christopher Abraham Head of Dubai Campus and Senior VP at SP Jain Center of Mgmnt with students
excellent real world skills and strong conceptual
knowledge in marketing, finance, logistics and IT
management. When it comes to placements S P Jain
has an enviable track record of 100% placements across
different countries including UAE. In fact in both the
Forbes Top 20 World rankings and the Financial Times
Top 100 World Rankings where S P Jain is featured,
a key attribute for these remarkable rankings is their
placement success. “Getting a job anywhere, including
the UAE is a combination of the right knowledge, skills
and attitude,” he points out.
The most popular graduate programs still remain
Business and Engineering. Any graduate is employable
if they possess strong academic credentials and equally
strong soft skills. However graduates with electives and
soft skills do stand a better chance,” states Abraham.
At the moment, because of the economic boom
across sectors in the UAE, study here is much more
attractive as the learning translates into job opportunities
in the region.
Given the high priority that Indians have for higher
education, it comes as no surprise that around 60% of
the total student populations across S P Jain campuses
in Dubai, Singapore and Sydney are Indian.
Parents like Cyrilla Sebastian who is a Supervisor
of the Primary Girls section at Abu Dhabi Indian School
and a teacher for over 25 years have seen numerous
Indian students take up higher studies across colleges
all over the world.
“In my experience as an educator for the past
25 years in the UAE, the students who come back
to the UAE from good colleges and universities in
India, do not lack communication skills, poise or
global exposure. Today the media also plays a very
important role in bringing together the youth of various
nationalities, cultures and temperaments and this leads
to international awareness,” comments Sebastian.
Her daughter, Nilav Anne Sebatian, recently finished
grade 12 and has enrolled for a degree in psychology
at the prestigious Sophia College at Mumbai, one of
the premier colleges in India. Like many parents in the
Gulf, Sebastian weighed the various options for higher
education for her ward before choosing a college back
With the growing impact of technology, in the last
ten years, the quality of students graduating from Indian
universities has improved and will eventually catch up
with globally influenced students. However there are
the inevitable preconceptions about obtaining a degree
from abroad and the experience of studying overseas
is considered more prestigious by peers and parents.
“Availing a university education is of high priority to
most youth in India. Today’s youth makes a conscious
effort to have a degree in hand that will enable them
to be employed. The market demands students who
are tops in their fields and who strive to achieve the
best that they can. The market also demands students
who are strong in application based knowledge,” quips
Most Indian students prefer to take up careers in the
fields of medicine, engineering, architecture, aviation
and other professional areas. Sebastian notes that the
following programs have been highly recommended
in Abu Dhabi; Bachelor of Business Administration in
HR Management, Bachelor of Science in Information
Technology from Abu Dhabi University. Bachelor of
Science in Psychology and Human Services from the
Zayed University and Bachelor of Education from the
Higher Colleges of Technology. TII
Feby Imthias is an independent newspaper correspondent. She
can be reached at [email protected]
Deven Kanal & Mohan Sivanand
Mangelal Sharma’s Experience
That old adage “As safe as a bank” no longer holds. Those you trust with
your hard-earned money are often the ones who cheat you blind. Beware
the smooth-talking bankster!
n September 2012, Mangelal Sharma, 78, of New
Delhi got a call from the manager of the Preet Vihar
branch of a leading private-sector bank, where
Sharma has had a decade-old savings account and
seven lakh rupees in a fixed deposit.* The manager
wanted to visit Sharma’s home to discuss a new
investment scheme.
“You’re most welcome,” the former law-firm
employee said, flattered by all this personal attention.
“Mr Sharma, your FD earns you just 10 percent,”
said the manager, after he dropped by with a colleague.
“Why don’t you invest in our DWS scheme, which will
give you 14 to 15 percent? There’ll be no penalty for
breaking your FD.” Sharma declined, explaining that
his wife had just undergone knee surgery—what if they
suddenly needed money? But, chatting over snacks
and soft drinks, the two bankers were persuasive. “You
can leave the DWS at any time,” they assured him.
“And all your money will be in your savings account the
next day.”
“If it’s a mutual fund, I’m not interested,” said
Sharma, who’d once lost money in a mutual fund
scheme. “I’m satisfied with the 10 percent.” But the
bankers convinced him this was no mutual fund and
that DWS stood for their “Development of Wealth
Sharma thought about it anyway, and like
innumerable customers who trust their bankers, went
over to the bank with his chequebook the next day and
signed up for the scheme. He didn’t even have to fill the
forms—a bank employee took care of that.
Everything looked good, until Sharma got his
shocking DWS account statement a few days later.
His money had indeed been invested in a mutual fund
scheme with a five-year lock-in. It was a clear case of
Like most of us, Mangelal Sharma is the ideal bank
customer. You never bounce a cheque, maintain the
minimum balance, pay credit card dues on time, and
trust those behind the counters. But you’re wrong.
Your bankers, who are privy to your status, wealth,
investment patterns, even your gullibility, are forever
thinking up ways to make your money work better for
them—no matter if you’re elderly and your ailing wife
just underwent surgery. While we’ll tell you about Mr
Mangelal Sharma’s ordeal, here are more ways in which
banks shortchange or trick you.
“Computer errors”
You may be charged extra for some services, fair
enough, but when S.M. Raj of Mumbai noticed on his
netbanking page that `25 was being charged as monthly
“bill pay” fees, he complained online. “I have not chosen
any bill paying scheme of yours,” he wrote. Within days,
the bank replied saying it was an error and reversed the
“That `25 may seem small,” reckons Raj, “but
assume that the bank made that ‘error’ with a small
percentage of their tens of millions of customers, and
only half of them noticed it and complained. They’d still
make crores in free money every month—even if it was
a computer glitch.”
commonplace. At one leading public sector bank,
the software kept debiting 40 percent (instead of the
normal 10) as tax deduction at source (TDS) from
thousands of fixed deposit holders. At a private bank,
one customer told us, he had been shortchanged for
a few hundred rupees on each of his several FDs after
they were renewed, but when he showed them the
correct workings, the bank agreed to return the money,
attributing it to “computer error.”
What You Must Do: Be alert. It’s best to enrol for
internet banking, where, like Raj, you can go online and
track every rupee in your account regularly. You can
also complain about, or question, anything you don’t
like by going to the “Customer Care” or “Contact Us”
link. If you can’t go online, check every entry in your
monthly statements or passbook and complain about
any unfair charges.
Shocked by the way he’d been conned, Mangelal
Sharma was crestfallen. DWS was no “development
of wealth scheme” but the abbreviation derived from
the German initials for Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Wertpapier-Sparen, now DWS Mutual Fund. The
bank manager had blatantly—and creatively—misled
Sharma, who wrote his bank a strong e-mail asking
for his money back. But the same gentlemen, who’d
visited his home and enjoyed his hospitality, now sang
a different tune. They rejected his claim, stating that
Sharma had signed the documents himself. “Indeed, I
had,” admits Sharma, who recalls how lightly he’d taken
matters when the DWS document was placed before
him. “What’s this?” he’d asked, squinting to examine
the tiny print. “I’ll develop a headache if I start reading
it.” Like millions of bank customers, Sharma didn’t read
the fine print—also because bank staff assured him that
it said the same things they’d already explained to him.
The dictionary has a term for the kind of people
Sharma now had to fight: bankster [noun]—A member
of the banking industry seen as profiteering or dishonest.
Rules you don’t know
Not reading the fine print is something bankers actually
make you do with charm and sleight of hand. When
they say, “We’ll fill the form for you” and mark a few
Xs in pencil next to where you must sign, they’re often
tricking you into a legal contract without your reading
the rules.
When Lakshmi S., then 23, left her job and went
to the UK for higher studies in August 2008, she also
left around `4000 in her “zero-balance salary account”
with a private bank. The quarterly statements kept
coming to her Mumbai home. Only in early 2010 did
Lakshmi’s father read one of them. He found that `827,
which included a “service” tax, was being deducted
every quarter from the account, because no salary was
being credited there. By now there was just `393 left in
Lakshmi’s account!
“That’s the rule with all salary accounts,” a bank
official explained. Lakshmi, too, had signed without
reading that rule after somebody filled up the form for
her. Why should any bank deduct freely from money
given to them at a mere four percent, when the bank
lends your money and earns a much higher rate of
interest on it? Such little-known rules are deceptive and
unfair, it was argued. In the end the bank reversed the
amount after a series of strong e-mails.
What You Must Do: Never sign any document
without reading everything in it. Don’t fall for the
convenience of haste. Take the papers home. Study
them; discuss the conditions with family members, your
boss, or someone you trust in the financial department
at your workplace. If you lose money as a
result of hidden charges, threatening to go to a
newspaper, consumer group or consumer magazine
often works—no bank wants bad publicity.
At age 78, putting up any fight is not easy for most
people. But those who know Mangelal Sharma will tell
you that age never slowed him down. After graduating
in 1957 from Calcutta’s City College, Sharma spent
long years at the law firm S.K. Gambhir & Co, where
as a company law specialist, he watched top lawyers
fight their cases and kept abreast of everything around
him. He’s also been a Hindi playwright and stage actor.
A spiritual man, he’ll tell about his travels to “almost all
of India’s great temples from Kanyakumari to Amarnath
and Dwarka to Puri.” An avid photographer and gadget
enthusiast, the great-grandfather (six children, 10
grandkids and two great-grandkids) also enjoys his
Apple MacBook. He joined Facebook in 2009 and is
active there. Over the internet, he keeps up with the
latest developments in science and world affairs. He
once told a local newspaper reporter, who was writing
on senior citizens, about how he links science with
spirituality, adding: “I want to move with time, and those
who don’t… fail to enjoy life fully.”
Yet, Sharma was to fail again and get two more
shocks, from hallowed institutions he believed would
protect bank customers like him. He complained to
the ombudsman (the mediator who resolves customer
complaints against banks) about the scheme he was
tricked into buying. He also wrote to the Reserve
Bank of India (RBI). But both turned him down, citing
the same technical reason: He had signed the papers
himself. In the ombudsman’s presence, Sharma writes
on his Facebook page, the bank’s officials twisted the
tale: Sharma, they said, had approached them for a
“better investment”—when in fact they had visited his
home to entrap him. Friends told him to sue the bank
but, wisely, he didn’t. Legal battles drag on forever and
are always costly. Making matters worse, the monthly
interest the retiree was earning from his `700,000 fixed
deposit had stopped.
ULIPs with other names
Senior citizens and busy professionals are prime
targets for those who mis-sell insurance policies. They
include banks that work as agents. When his bank’s
relationship manager persuaded a senior journalist to
sell his shares and invest the money in something else,
warning bells rang. “Is it insurance or mutual fund?”
asked the journalist.
Mangelal Sharma
“It incorporates both,” replied the relationship
“ULIPs? I’m not interested,” said the journalist.
Not everybody is so well informed. One 70-year-old
retiree was similarly persuaded by an agent to invest
annually in a scheme that promised sky-high returns.
He wasn’t told it was actually a notorious unit-linked
insurance plan (ULIP), where the agent gets a huge
upfront commission from an investor’s money. It was
only after several years that the retiree discovered that
his total investment of `150,000 had shrunk to `85,000.
Today the Chennai-based Consumers Association of
India is trying to help the retiree out, having written to
the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority
about the mis-selling.
What You Must Do: Relationship managers at banks
work solely for their own commissions, targets and
promotions—not for you! When your bank recommends
any investment scheme that’s not a plain FD, do your
homework carefully. Study the scheme online or ask an
independent certified financial planner (CFP) to explain
it—banks and other insurance agents now generally
uttering the term “ULIP” when they try to sell it to
you. ULIPs are very beneficial to agents, but it may
take at least a decade for you to get any returns from
them. ULIPs are part life insurance and part mutual fund
investment—a bad mix. CFPs will tell you never to mix
insurance and investment.
To cover risk, buy a pure “term” life insurance
instead, where the premium is very low. Agents will
tell you it’s no good, but that’s only because their
commissions from term plans are low. Invest, instead, in
FDs, shares or a mutual fund scheme that has a history
of good returns. If your bank or insurance agent tries to
sell you an investment scheme you don’t understand,
ask them pointedly if it is a ULIP to check if they are lying
or hiding facts from you.
Mangelal Sharma was so ashamed at the way he
was duped, he didn’t even tell his wife Geeta about
it. But he was not giving up. “So what if even the RBI
wasn’t of much help?” he told himself, “I have my wits
intact.” And if there was one grandpa who never knew
stage fright, it was he. Sharma the playwright also
likes to sing and dance. At Christmastime, the whitebearded senior with the handlebar moustache didn’t
need any make-up when he played Santa for the kids
and pranced around his East Delhi neighbourhood.
Now, enough was enough! By the end of March,
Sharma had a “dramatic” idea. He got a T-shirt printed
with his photo and a message that read: “Beware! ******
Bank is a cheat. It has cheated me... May cheat you.”
He also posted his story in brief, in capitals that shouted
out from his Facebook page, ending it with, “… WHAT
Unjustified penalties
Arun Saxena, president of the International Consumer
Rights Protection Council based in Thane, Maharashtra,
reveals a banking secret. “The credit card industry
thrives on late fee charges and penalties,” he says.
Sachin Rane, 43, a Thane flight operations executive,
was aware of that. He had never missed a credit card
payment. Then, in 2008, his monthly statements began
to reach him after their due dates. Worse, the cheques
he dropped off at a box weren’t being deposited in time
for clearance.
“I phoned repeatedly to complain,” he says. That
in itself was an ordeal—he’d be kept endlessly on
hold. Often, the person from the bank would simply
say they’d get back to him—but never did. Meanwhile,
Rane got calls asking him to pay up. “But how could I
pay without first having tallied
my finances?” he asks. The bank, meanwhile,
began to carry forward the unpaid amount and charge
interest and late fees.
Refusing to pay these unjustified penalties, he
wrote, in 2010, to the bank explaining his problem.
When that, too, was ignored, he filed a case with the
district consumer forum, which wrote to the bank
enquiring into the matter. After that the bank reversed
the full amount—`85,000. That’s what the penalties had
multiplied to over those few years.
What You Must Do: Check your card statements
carefully for errors and, if any, report them immediately.
Ask for e-mailed monthly statements. Make card
payments well before the due dates, and refuse to pay
for any billing mistakes. Drop boxes are often handled
by outside agencies that may cause delays. So use
the drop box at the bank’s branch or pay online. If you
are not a habitual late-payer, but delayed a month’s
payment for any reason, calling up the bank and politely
asking them to reverse late fees usually works. But
never let card dues pile up—interest rates are around
40 percent per annum, and compounded monthly.
Wearing his new T-shirt, Mangelal Sharma went
over to his bank on a pleasant April morning. There
was much commotion as he first walked in. Some other
customers, reading the loud message on the T-shirt,
told him how they’d been fooled too. Then, standing
before the teller counters Sharma began to dance
between the queues! And, parodying a song from the
1978 political comedy film Nasbandi, he began to sing
in Hindi:
“Kya mil gaya sarkar?
Tumhein meri FD toodake,
Mujhe mutual fund mein fansa ke,
Mujhe choona lagake…” **
Sharma dared the guards to throw him out or to call
the police. Surprisingly, they didn’t. He’d pause to give
brief lectures to the employees and customers present.
“If you want to enjoy life, keep smiling and dancing,” he
told them. “I have been looted, but see I am laughing,
dancing and singing. This is real life and I enjoy it! I thank
Where ever
you shop…
You will find us
the bank for giving me this opportunity to dance and
sing and entertain you folks.”
He danced, sang and lectured at the bank for about
an hour a day for four days. For Sharma it was much like
playing Santa Claus once more, in a message T-shirt.
Robbed by the ATM
In March 2010, Bhushan Chander Jindal of Jalandhar,
needed `19,000 urgently. The Indian Oil executive went
to his bank’s ATM to take the money on credit, knowing
he’d be charged interest and a “cash advance fee”
for the transaction. “I entered the amount,” he says,
“but though it was well within my credit limit, the ATM
wouldn’t allow me to take all `19,000 at one go.” So
Jindal was forced to make three separate withdrawals
from the machine. When he got his credit card
statement the next month, he was charged `300 thrice
as cash advance fees and a service tax of `30.90 thrice.
He now owed the bank an extra `661.80 (not counting
the interest). “I felt duped by my bank,” says Jindal.
“Making me do three transactions was just a ploy for
them to extract more money.”
There is normally a restriction on the amount you
can withdraw from an ATM on any day, about which
customers are aware. There are also restrictions on the
number of notes (usually 40) that an ATM may dispense
during a single transaction. Even so, with software
capable of being programmed to detect something
so basic, can’t such overcharging be eliminated? Is it
the customer’s fault that low-denomination notes were
stocked in the ATM?
Anyway, Jindal did not complain about it, thinking it
would be a waste of time.
What You Must Do: Geeta Mirchandani, customer
service representative at a public sector bank in Mumbai,
doesn’t approve of Jindal’s inaction. “Complain!” she
urges. “Demand to be heard. Getting the attention of
the higher-ups counts. You need to fight for what is
yours—your hard-earned money and your right to be
treated fairly.”
Swathy Perla, Chennai-based financial services
director at Consumers Association of India, tells you
about the best way to complain, if nobody at a bank
listens to you. “Approach a consumer protection
organization,” she advises. “They will help mediate
between a bank and the customer to arrive at a solution.
If that doesn’t work, they could direct you to a banking
ombudsman or the consumer forum. However, going
to a consumer forum or the courts should always be
the last resort, because cases could drag on and you’d
waste money in lawyers’ fees.”
“Not complaining is wrong,” agrees Pritee Shah,
chief general manager at the Ahmedabad-based
Consumer Education and Research Centre. “Indian
consumers generally suffer in silence. This is because
most people don’t know their rights. Even if they
complain, there may be no response, or they are treated
rudely. In many cases, customers are shunted around
from person to person, until they ultimately give up. But
it’s persistence that pays.”
Reader’s Digest, too, has always held that consumer
organizations should be your first choice. They don’t
charge you for their services, they listen to you, and
it doesn’t matter that you live far away from them—all
they want is to be sure that you were shortchanged,
misled or denied your fair rights as a customer. If you
decide, instead, to go to the banking ombudsman first,
and the ombudsman uses technicalities to rule in the
bank’s favour, even consumer organizations will find it
hard to help you.
The ombudsman’s rejection of Mangelal Sharma’s
complaint had indeed put him in a spot. But his
persistence helped. Among the many social networkers
who read his all-capitals Facebook post was Vivek
Sharma, a columnist with Moneylife, the Mumbai-based
personal finance and consumer-rights magazine, which
published a scathing report on their website describing
Sharma’s plight, and his efforts, with pictures of him in
the T-shirt.
The bank manager finally invited Sharma over. He
showed up on 17th April, along with Veeresh Malik, the
New Delhi-based consulting editor of Moneylife. At their
meeting, officials denied having done anything wrong,
but that very evening Mangelal Sharma had visitors at
his home.
It was the banksters once again. This time they
came with a cheque for seven lakh rupees. TII
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Rajiv Vijayakar
Deepika Padukone:
Why is she called a hero?
Deepika and Ranveer Singh in Ram Leela
Deepika is not your common heroine, proved by her amazing
performances in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express and Goliyon
Ki Ras Leela Ram-Leela in completely diverse roles. She was the nerd
Naina in JYHD, the spunky South Indian lass in CE and the Gujarati Leela
in …Ram-Leela. Her effortless acting dwarfed her heroes, Ranbir Kapoor,
Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer Singh.
n retrospect, mega-hits like Yeh Jawaani Hai
Deewani (YJHD), Chennai Express (CE) and
Goliyon Ki Ras Leela Ram-Leela can be called twohero projects, simply because they all starred Deepika
And in the forthcoming Kochadaiyyan, a bilingual,
Rajnikanth finally gets a heroine befitting his cult stature.
And that’s Deepika again.
But why are we calling Deepika a hero? The reason
is simple: Deepika is not merely the common heroine
of these three back-to-back hits. Her tremendous
performances in each of these movies – that too in
completely diverse roles – as the nerd Naina who is
transformed in JYHD, as the spunky South Indian lass
in CE and the Gujarati Leela in …Ram-Leela have – with
amazing effortlessness -dwarfed her respective heroes,
Ranbir Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer Singh.
In short, Deepika remains the prime highlight, apart
from the music scores of YJHD and Ram-Leela that
also helped pull in the initial crowds of these films and
SRK’s fan following in CE. She drew in her own viewers
despite the trinity of big names behind the three films
– producer Karan Johar and directors Rohit Shetty
and Sanjay Leela Bhansali respectively and her heroes
who have their respective big, mammoth fan-bases
The New Hero
And yet, the term ‘hero’, which a section of the trade
has given Deepika, is not about work quality alone but
also about the kind of money her movies have begun
to rake in.
Today, the appeal of a film’s promo is of paramount
importance for its prospects. And whether it was
Deepika’s first encounter with Ranbir in YJHD, the
‘kaun se bokwas’ dictionary?’ line in CE or the crackle
she imparted to the songs Nagada sang dhol and
Lahu munh lag gaya in …Ram-Leela, the promos itself
showed the sizzle that brought in an audience already
whetted by Deepika’s turns as Veronica in Cocktail and
Alina in Race 2 earlier. There was that clear, yet intangible
magnetic allure, that influenced viewers enough to
make them want to watch the film, irrespective of any
other factor - they came to see her.
First Female Super-star after Madhuri
Most vitally, this faith was never deflated but actually
boosted after watching these films. And as the movies
thundered past the Rs. 100 crore domestic net mark
along with unanimous encomiums for her work, Deepika
not only swept past the ‘competition’ (Kareena Kapoor,
Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Sonakshi Sinha) but also
became the first true-blue female superstar in 25 years
– after Madhuri Dixit.
In one fell sweep, Deepika garnered three
super-hit 100 crore movies in 2013. With Race 2
touching Rs. 90 crore-plus and no flop to her name,
Deepika, only in domestic revenues, has become the
Rs 600 crore-plus heroine, a dream figure that hitherto
has been reached only by Salman Khan (Rs. 700 crore
plus since 2010) and no other hero! Moreover, as stated
earlier, Deepika had prominent and completely diverse
roles in every movie and was not just eye-candy or
someone to be dominated by the hero in them!
Perhaps the two ultimate compliments she received
came from the same Salman Khan. In a show on
television, Khan raved about her hard work and its
results. Later, when asked which of three (other) new
actresses he would like to work with, Khan was decisive:
ignoring the three names, he said, “Deepika Padukone!”
So for the first time since Madhuri again we have
that complete package – gorgeous looks (that are
only getting better with the confidence, charisma and
chimera that have cascaded in with her super-success),
huge talent as an actor (which also means a terrific
versatility), a superb flair for dance and songs, and a
sizzling and standout stature amidst (male and female)
Remember how Madhuri never let her heroes (or
co-heroines) get the better of her on-screen? With
Deepika, right from the beginning of her evolution with
Cocktail (she had earlier stood her ground opposite
Amitabh Bachchan in Aarakshan), it is the same.
Again, like with Madhuri, we can see the same passion,
focus and discipline in Deepika, and as far as workethic is concerned, the same complete and distinctive
professionalism, which does not falter even when cast
opposite ex-beau Ranbir Kapoor.
Deepika and Shah Rukh Khan in Chennai Express
Melvin Durai
Important Lessons From
Nelson Mandela’s Life
his fellow freedom fighters (let’s call them Edwin and
Joe) just as he took office.
Mandela: “I have called you here to discuss national
Deepika’s versatility is exceptional
The New Diva
So who would have thought that the daughter of
ace badminton player Prakash Padukone, born in
Copenhagen and raised in Bangalore, who even played
badminton in national level championships, would
turn into India’s hottest female star less than six years
after her debut in the 2007 Shah Rukh Khan home
production Om Shanti Om (OSO) as Shanti?
But luck too contributed in the beginning: after all,
who gets a debut in a double role opposite one of the
biggest stars in a film directed by one of the biggest
names – Farah Khan? Within a few years, Deepika
had garnered filmmakers like Aditya Chopra, Ashutosh
Gowariker, Imtiaz Ali, Sajid Nadiadwala, Sajid Khan and
Prakash Jha. And though she was panned in some
films, as in Chandni Chowk To China (again a dual role),
she made a mark as a blind girl in Lafangey Parindey
and in Love Aaj Kal.
Yes, trivia lovers can add that she made her debut
even before OSO - in the 2006 Kannada rom-com
Aishwarya, again a hit, and also appeared in the Himesh
Reshammiya album video ‘Naam hai tera’, which was
actually where Farah spotted her.
Such is the stuff that ‘Diva’-ine careers are often
made of – Deepika was a quiet, awkward child leading
a monotonous life laced with studies and the “family”
game of badminton, till instinct made her come out of
her shell and head towards modeling and cinema.
But what ultimately separates a true diva from
the fake or passing variety is the grounded head on
Deepika’s slim shoulders. In a recent interview, the
actress stated, “People tell me that I am a grounded
person. Having said that, I haven’t got time for a second
to step out and gauge myself. That’s a huge compliment
and I think that comes from the way I’ve been brought
up by my parents.”
A few months back, she had told this writer, “In the
recent past especially, it has been strenuous, with backto-back work on four films. But I am enjoying myself
and I do not mind the loss of personal time and family
time when I am doing good films. It feels nice to be
wanted, to be reading and hearing good things about
me, so I have to push myself. When I am told that I am a
huge star, I accept it, knowing that success is relative –
the films that I do, have to work. I only hope that the love
and appreciation continue with the films I am doing. It
can get difficult to live up to something like this.”
As an awestruck Ranbir Kapoor had earlier stated,
“Deepika constantly surprises me and she has turned
all her disadvantages into advantages!” And Deepika
giggles as she narrates that she had to put on the same
Southern accent for her role in Chennai Express for
which she was made fun of when she first landed in
An ardent supporter of cinema that “everybody
loves”, Deepika is still bold enough to take on a
‘different’ English film made by Homi Cocktail Adajania
– Finding Fanny Fernandes. And her inherent common
sense makes her say that she would not only like to
remembered for her work but also to be loved for the
person she is.
Sure. When brains, beauty and youth merge into
such a heady cocktail you are bound to get this lovable
Bollywood Express named Deepika Padukone. TII
Rajiv Vijayakar is a veteran Bollywood writer based in Mumbai.
Deepika Padukone with Saif Ali Khan, Diana Penty in Cocktail
Few people have left an imprint on earth quite like
Nelson Mandela. He was here for 95 years and we were
blessed to have him. We the citizens of the world,
the 53 million South Africans, the 1.2 billion
Indians, the 317 million Americans, the 25 million
ex-boyfriends of Kim Kardashian -- we were all blessed
to have him.
One of Mandela’s greatest lessons is the importance
of sacrifice. He spent 27 years as a political prisoner
and said “real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all
for the freedom of their people.” I asked people in my
neighborhood to complete the sentence “If Mandela
can spend 27 years in prison, I can definitely ...”
Eleven-year-old boy: “If Mandela can spend 27 years
in prison, I can definitely go 27 minutes without video
games. Well, not definitely, but probably. ... You’re
not going to make me sign anything, are you?”
Fifteen-year-old girl: “If Mandela can spend 27 years
in prison, I can definitely spend 27 minutes helping
my mother in the kitchen. Do I have to do it all in
one day or can I spread it over 27 years?”
Thirty-year-old man: “If Mandela can spend 27 years
in prison, I can definitely watch 27 commercials
during a football game. Does running to the fridge 27
times count as a sacrifice?”
Middle-aged woman: “If Mandela can spend 27 years
in prison, I can definitely spend 27 seconds giving
my husband what he wants at night. I don’t know why
he can’t go and get the sleeping pill and water himself.”
Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and,
following the end of Apartheid, he was elected president
of South Africa in 1994. He led the country down a
path of national reconciliation, seeking to unite blacks,
whites and other races. He showed no bitterness for
the punishment he had endured, no desire to strike
back at his oppressors. Few people are capable of such
forgiveness. Just picture Mandela meeting with two of
Edwin: “National what?”
Mandela: “Reconciliation.”
Edwin: “That’s a big word. I didn’t bring my dictionary.”
Joe: “I think it means we’re going to let the white people
keep their farms.”
Mandela: “Their farms, their mansions, their swimming
pools. Why must we take all their property from them?”
Edwin: “Why must we not? Let them live in Soweto with
no running water.”
Mandela: “This is their country too. We must not drive
them away to other countries. We need their skills:
farming skills, business skills etc. “
Joe: “Exploitation skills.”
Mandela: “They will not exploit us anymore. They will
work alongside us for a stronger South Africa. Toward
that goal, I am going to appoint some of them to my
cabinet. What portfolios should I give them?”
Edwin: “Minister of Economic Oppression; Minister of
Injustice; Minister of Mines, Not Yours.”
After serving for five years as South Africa’s first
black president, Mandela did something that shocked
other leaders around Africa: he stepped down. He
neither clung to power nor tried to accumulate wealth.
That humility, a quality we should all emulate, can be
seen in his insistence on making his own bed, even
while staying at a hotel on his trip to Shanghai, China. TII
Melvin Durai is a Manitoba-based writer and humorist.
A native of India he grew up in Zambia. Read his blog:
I Can’t Do It,
As It Is An
Expensive Process
was among the first students of Chennai’s Government College of Arts
and Crafts in the 1930s. I studied painting and later also went into
making sculptures.
I have done lots of sculptures in my time, many of which were very
well received, but there is not much I can show you right now. These wax
moulds and plaster casts that you see here need to be cast in bronze but
I can’t do it, as it is an expensive process and I don’t have the strength
anymore. So I sit here in my studio making sketches. My health does not permit me to move around much but when no one
is watching I very quietly step out to tend to the garden outside.
S. DHANAPAL, artist, born Chennai, 1919, died 2000
TII’s Hall of Fame features India’s elderly, great, interesting and unusual men and women. Excerpted from the book: ‘Ageless Mind and
Spirit,’ by Samar and Vijay Jodha. www. agelessmindandspirit. com
, Mum
bai (Ph
oto by
Ongoing Theme:
‘India Quaint’
Email your ONE Best India photo in high resolution
‘jpg’with the theme indicated to
[email protected]
For contest rules please visit:
ide Te
alan Iy
alore (B
Deepa Ballal
What is it people don’t like
about Indians?
In an international environment like the Gulf and the UAE with around
200 nationalities people have to get along. Economic competition is fierce,
and positive and negative traits are quickly assessed. How do Indians fare
and what opinions do other people have about us?
sking this direct question to many non-Indians
was no easy task. Some hesitated, some
didn’t want their photos published, some
feared spoiling work relationships they shared with
the only Indian they knew and some folks just refused
to comment saying its too blunt a question. These
reactions further cemented my assumption that there
must be something really irksome about Indians for
so many people refrained from even discussing the
Statistics show that every 6th person in the world
is an Indian. Thanks to our growing population, it is
time for a thorough introspection wherein India and
Indians should not make the blunder of breaking old
stereotypes and creating new ones. Living in highly
volatile times where racial slurs, tacit discrimination in
work places and complaints over curry smells have
triggered protests, Indians like many other immigrants
have a lot of soul searching to do. As the Indian
diaspora gradually increases throughout the world,
and the Indian identity is fading, many people fall
into the trap of misunderstanding others and getting
misunderstood. That in short makes life as an expat
extremely challenging even if it can be interesting.
Sadly miscommunication in the work place,
negative vibes within teams , can prove to be more
fatal than falling revenues. Crash courses on cross
cultural sensitisation hence take precedence over other
official obligations meant to prepare the individual for
an overseas stay. As of today many nations have either
become cultural melting pots, ethnic stews or salad
bowls, all referring to the degree to which societies
mingle with people of different cultural backgrounds.
Agneta Ladek: Sometimes Indians don’t dare to criticise
Nevertheless as Sudhir Kakar in his book, The
Indians: Portrait of a People says, the underlying sense
of Indian identity continues to persist, even into the
third or fourth generation in the Indian diaspora around
the world, not only when people gather for a Diwali
celebration or to watch a Bollywood movie. Despite the
presence of caste, creed and more than 200 languages
amidst us we share something common, which many a
time becomes so very distinctive that outsiders spot it
My Lithuanian friend, Agneta Ladek, whom I met
in Germany through a Malaysian friend, has had much
interaction with Indians both as a student and at her
work place. “What I like about Indians is their sincerity,
their attitude towards family, their hospitality and their
sense of caring.”
Ask her about what she hasn’t liked in Indians,
she weighs her words and says, “What I don‘t like
is their lack of critical thinking (sometimes they don‘t
dare to criticise), they don‘t keep their word or change
their opinion too often which makes information a bit
untruthful, especially in the service sector.” All the while
I hoped, she was not referring to me in any way!
Her Lithuanian friend Vesta Ratkeviciute who works
in Bangalore is also all praise for India, but does share
her woes when it comes to understanding some of the
Indian ways. At one end she admires the success and
sustainability of India‘s economic reforms, its young
demographic profile together with its skilled human
resources, which makes India an exciting destination for
business, investment and innovation for entrepreneurs
from across the globe. And at the other end she finds
the business culture and service mentality, a tough nut
to crack. Employees high up on the corporate ladder
are extremely professional, something which she and
many westerners like her can learn from. However,
that is not applicable to the general staff who she feels
are irresponsible and inefficient and work only under
constant pressure and control.
“Employees seldom answer emails, so regular
follow up and repetitive calls at least 4-5 times is
normal, not to forget the need to raise ones voice to
get the job done. In
the course of time,
“What I don‘t like is their
lack of critical thinking
(sometimes they don‘t dare
to criticise), they don‘t keep
their word or change their
opinion too often which
makes information a bit
untruthful, especially in the
service sector.”
Vesta Ratkeviciute has seen Indians who are highly professional
and those who are extremly lackadisical
I have formed the opinion, that if you do not remind
them about the task to be accomplished, they secretly
expect you will forget it,” concludes Vesta. The past 11
months she has stayed and worked in India, she has
been forced to learn the Indian ways to get things done.
Brought up in a country where minding ones P’s
and Q’s is the norm, Vesta feels it more challenging to
accept some Indian habits even today, ”People do not
follow general courtesy rules like being on time, keeping
one‘s promises, waiting in the queue, keeping personal
distance, eating with silverware etc,” she reckons.
Being in India or working with Indians is an
experience in itself. Yahya Lamri, a Singaporean who
has frequent business meetings with Indians observes,
“Especially during sales negotiations, they can be very
persuasive,” he says laughingly.
No doubt gauging another culture through the filters
of your own culture is what more often conditions ones
perceptions. For example, more often westerners hail
Indians for the strong family bonds we share. But there
is a flip side. Preservation of relationships is the primary
principle governing the action of many Indians especially
in interpersonal situations. Prof Kakar notes that Indians
find it difficult to say a frank “No” to requests they are
unable or unwilling to grant. Hence many westerners
conclude Indians are indecisive, inconclusive and find
their actions extremely puzzling especially when the
refusal comes in words like, ‘Let’s see,’ ‘it’s difficult but
I will try’ and so on. Citing the example where if you
ask for directions, he says even in that brief moment, in
order to save face, an Indian will proceed to guide you
Yahya Lamri. - Indians are very persuasive
even though he may have no idea.
Having worked with and being associated with
Indians since childhood British expat Susan Furness
calls these very traits quirky and not necessarily
negative. “ I don’t see negatives in people but what I
have observed in Indians is that if something goes
wrong they don’t take responsibility for their errors.
Getting someone to say – oh my god, it’s my fault, is
something that rarely comes out,” she notes.
Susan has made the Gulf her home for more
than 30 years now, arriving in Bahrain as a young
twenty-something. With a strong retail background,
she enjoyed a good few years as part of the buying
team at Jashanmal’s – one of the region’s legacy retail
companies and a fine example of a successful Indian
trading family in Arabia. It was possibly the professional
entrepreneurial spirit of the Jashanmal family that
rubbed off on Susan, and from then she always had
a business venture on the go, from a haute couture
design house to a photo library. Indeed, Susan started
her company Strategic Solutions in the early nineties
and it lives on, some two decades later.
Susan quickly divulges that it could be something
specific to the present generation wherein they look
keener to find a solution than accept the mistake. In
addition she says when it comes to negative feedback,
“The eyes tend to look to the sides and never straight
in the eye.” Hailing Indians for their focused and sharp
business acumen she is all praise for their genuine
loyalty, warmth and the way in which they integrate work
and life, but finds the fact that in social life Indians tend
to be very Indian. “For instance if I am a very good friend
of an Indian and was invited to their house party there
wouldn’t be many non-Indians.,” she says in an amused
tone. But at the same time she feels that it holds good
for other nationalities too. Despite these oddities she
says she would rather embrace the endearing nuances
of Indians versus the annoying defects.
Sharing a similar relationship with India is one
German who didn’t want to be named. “I liked the
hospitality of your nation, but not the roads. What was
something tough compared to other countries was
traveling in India, but I can’t say there is something,
which I don’t like about Indians. Well, maybe two
things. The continuous blowing of the horns without
any reason. For a non-Indian its difficult to understand,
but in no time you get used to it and without the noise
you start missing something and the awful red stains left
after spitting paan is something which I will certainly not
miss,” he sums up.
Filth or the concept of cleanliness again is
something culture specific. In his extensive decade long
study Prof Kakar notes that in the West there is much
effort expended in masking the dirty inside. In India it
is directed towards shifting the dirt outside. Hence it is
no surprise that one sees immaculate cleanliness inside
Indian homes and the garbage dumped outside into
public places. Thus he notes that over the years many
have observed that Indians are very clean people who
live in a filthy country.
Susan Furness:-keen to find solutions not accept mistakes
For Katrin Binder, another UK resident who is
German, India is more like a second home. “I like the
spontaneity, the warmth, the directness, the importance
given to family and friendships, the way people can
appreciate the moment. Some of my closest friends
are Indians, and I think it is because they really listen
and really care,” she says with a smile. Her complaints
are directed towards diaspora Indians when she says,
“Among UK Indians, I sometimes dislike how some of
them seem to think they know everything about India
just by virtue of being of Indian origin.”
Apart from this she feels the whole notion of liking
or not liking holds good for any nationality. “On the
whole, I think there are likeable and less likeable people
of any nationality,” she concludes.
Agreeing with her is Jisha Chandroth, an Indian
expat residing in Taiwan. “Most of my friends do not
have many Indian friends and mostly it’s just me whom
they know. I believe when you meet a person or a group
of people you ideally do not see the race or nationality
of the person. You like or dislike things about them
based on their individual character. It has nothing to do
with their nationality or race,” she insists. And that is
what most of her colleagues felt and thus didn’t want
to comment.
Resonating with the same feeling is young Emirati
journalist Ayesha Almazroui, who shares very good
working relations with two of her Indian colleagues.
“Indian people are like any other people, they have both
positive and negative traits. But my overall experience
has been positive, especially when I got closer to them.
They are simple people, friendly and down to earth,” is
how she sums it up.
Nils Ortman, a German who married an Indian feels
that he did have a lot of prejudices about India but
discussing things with his wife has helped him sort them
out. “There are really a lot of differences - from the taste
of food, the way we organize our work or how important
religion is in our life. For me it is more interesting to know
how similar Indians and Germans are. For example how
important family and friends are,” he summarizes.
Dutch national Marco Blankenburgh, International
Director of Knowledgeworkx ( a
consulting firm specializing in intercultural intelligence,
first came in contact with the Indian community in 1996
when he visited Dubai.
“My first impression was incomprehension. Despite
the fact that I had lived in four continents I had never
been in a place where I had heard the Indian version
of English very much. I struggled to understand. I was
intrigued but also frustrated because I was used to
being understood and to understand,” he remembers.
“Since then we have made some great Indian friends,
our kids have NRI friends and we have been able to
significantly improve our ability to communicate. On top
of that we love Indian cuisine and our girls love saris and
Marco Blankenburgh: Would love to see more color blindness
between the different ethnic, religious, caste groups
Marco notes that Indians are a very successful
community, shrewd, clever, bottom-line driven, seeing
entrepreneurial and trade opportunities where others
wouldn’t. Traits he has noticed: “Non-leaders seem to
have a need to systematize things in organizations (to
create dependency and probably job-security), while
leaders sometimes have a tendency to keep things
unclear to the rest of the workforce (to create control
and maneuvering space). “Some are too focused on
the deal, when the deal is over they move on to the
next relationships that might give them the next deal.”
Positive traits he sees are : warm, friendly, great food,
family orientation, intriguing/rich culture and heritage.
“I would love to see more color blindness, both
between the different ethnic/religious/caste groups as
well as the interaction between India and the world. It
negatively influences the flow of many things: dignity,
humanity, ideas, opportunities, relationships, resources,
solutions etc.” Marco points out.
Caught in this strange quagmire of love, hate,
prejudices where each strives to outdo the other,
Indians have indeed come a long way. The other day
it came as a pleasant surprise when someone in the
lift amazed at my kid’s counting skills said,” You from
India? Good at maths, no doubt.” For once, it felt good.
One may like us, one may dislike us, but they certainly
cannot ignore us. TII
Deepa Ballal is a freelance writer based in Dubai.
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Shyamola Khanna
Expats in Hyderabad
Children at David Y Cho and Grace Joy Cho’s school dedicated to the Waldorf method of teaching
Some of them have a hard time in India, some fall in love with the country,
some are there just to make a living or do business but some want to make
a difference. TII takles a look at how expats get along with desis in apna
n one leafy shaded bylane, up on a tree, outside a
bungalow is an artistically done board proclaiming
“Grace Kids Waldorf Inspired Pre- School.” Nothing
very extraordinary about it because this whole area
is peppered with little play schools and Montessori
schools catering for the pre- school age group of 3-4
So what is so special about another school in the
After I met David Y Cho and Grace Joy Jo, a
young couple from Korea who are running the school,
I was impressed. Very soft spoken and gentle, this
young couple started this school two years ago and are
quite okay with the response they have got. They are
truly dedicated to the Waldorf method of teaching and
learning and are of the firm belief that it will change the
way kids look at things.
David had read a biography of Mother Teresa and
her work in India and he felt a strong connect with the
country. He first visited India in 2004, two years after he
had married Grace. He came alone as a backpacker
and started his visit with Kolkata where he was actually
shocked to see the conditions that mother Teresa
worked with. Then he visited Varanasi, Delhi, Bangalore
and Hyderabad, from where he went back to Kolkata
and Seoul.
In 2006 David and Grace returned to India, this
time with a specific purpose of finding a job. In 2007
David set up Somang (which means ‘hope’ in Korean)
Enterprises. It was essentially a guest house service,
exclusively for the Korean businessmen who are based
in the city. With the birth of their daughter Esther in
2008, they came full circle.
2011 saw them start the school as they could not
find a Waldorf school in Secunderabad—the three in
Hyderabad were too far away for little Esther to travel.
In Seoul they had attended a workshop on the Waldorf
method of learning and this had encouraged them to
believe that it was the best way to impart any kind of
learning. Besides Grace was a trained teacher and
together they felt that they could make a difference.
At the other end of the spectrum is the old city where
Elca Grobler, from South Africa, has been working
with poor women who are victims of domestic violence.
She has set up an NGO called My Choices Asia. It is
an organization that has been created to give women
choices: To allow women to live a life free from abuse.
Their mission on the webpage says, “At My Choices
our mission is to stop domestic violence by training
and employing local women who work within their
community to create a meaningful change in victims’
lives. We believe that domestic violence can be stopped
by healing and reconciling families in a peaceful manner
and we will resort to further action only when such an
option is no longer available.”
Elca Grobler is an MBA by education and a banker
by profession. She worked for eight years in Australia
after she married her businessman husband. Having
worked with micro financing for a long time, the urge to
come to India took a hold on this young couple who are
now fairly comfortable in Hyderabad.
She always wanted to do something for women and
it took her a while to understand that domestic violence
was such an emotive issue—she wanted to help poor
women understand and cope with this issue along
with other equally serious issues affecting women like
trafficking and preventing early marriage of the girl child.
Grace Joy Cho - making a difference
David Y Cho and Grace Joy Cho at their school for kids
Elca has got the concept correct. She knew that
change would not happen from the outside—it had
to be a friend or a relative from the same environment
who could prevent the women from being battered! So
she finds women from different localities through the
network of various NGOs working in the same field.
She trains them for two months, makes them do an
internship of another two months and now these same
women wear their badges of ‘peacemaker’ with great
pride. She connects with NGOs like Safa, Prajwala,
Aakriti and others.
Elca is happy that other young people are coming
forward to join hands with her in this fight. I met young
Yudhajit Baul, also an erstwhile banker by profession,
who wants to join hands with Elca and teach women
‘martial arts’ . He is a firm believer in this scientific
method of self protection!
Janine Baker is a 55 year old Australian who has
been running the Indian branch of an American global
business in Hyderabad since 2006. She has been here
since 2005 and is ‘enjoying her stay here’. She says,
“I have travelled around on my own and I feel very safe
in Hyderabad. Because I have friends in Delhi, I might
like to live there – maybe just change cities. I actually
find working in India a lot less stressful than working
anywhere in the West.
“It is sometimes frustrating, but then it is also
frustrating for the Indians when things are beyond your
control. In the West the issues are different therefore
it can sometimes be very awkward when you apply
western sensibilities to Indian situations. The last time I
went back to Australia I found a lot had changed, there
was a lot more violence—I guess I have been in India
for too long! People were yelling at each other, parents
were shouting at kids, road rage, and the works! It
actually caught me unawares and I was happy getting
back ‘home’ to Hyderabad at the earliest.”
“I don’t have any kids and I am divorced so I do
not have strings attached to Australia. I do miss my
Elca , with her peacemakers and staff of My Choices Asia
friends who like me are well travelled and have at some
stage in their lives, lived in different countries. They like
coming to spend some time with me here. Other than
that I keep in touch through texting – I love sending out
something funny with a few words—‘missing you lots’and I am instantly connected. You don’t have to write a
novella to stay connected with people you care about!”
Janine says cheerfully, “I am very comfortable here
and I have no plans of leaving India in the near future.”
Lona Logan , a young mother of three and an avid
photographer has been in India for the last eight years.
Her husband is with a hotel chain and is currently in
Delhi. She says, “It has been a very positive experience.
India is more home to me than Australia and my kids are
now more Indian than Australian.”
Lona says. “My children, Xavier (14), Tara (11)
and my youngest Dominic (8) have enjoyed living in
Hyderabad and go to an International School, Mosaica.
They have a good understanding of Hindi and Xavier is
quite good at conversing in Telegu. I also speak enough
Hindi to get by.”
India has been an enriching experience for all of
them and exposed them to what its like to live in another
country. People often ask Lona what she likes about
India and she feels that is a tough question to answer.
“It’s something very internal, something intangible.
India still has a soul – Atma, which I feel, in the West,
we are losing. Initially, of course you have to adapt to
a new country with its food, culture, etc, but if you are
open to change and willing to learn, then the experience
can be a positive one. The people of India have always
been welcoming and their hospitality is generous.
Often I have heard other foreigners complain about the
pollution or traffic or poverty, but I always believe you
have to see the good and get past the negative. If you
focus continually on the negative, you will never see
anything positive.”
For Lona, the early years were spent in caring
for her young children. Once they all went to full-time
school she concentrated on her photography again.
“I have always been interested in this field, but taking
pictures in India has been wonderful. I started my Inertia
Photography page on Facebook as a place to show my
family and friends my life in India.”
On the 28th of September, a charity function was
held at the Falaknuma Palace where Lona and other
artists had an opportunity to sell their works for the
Cherish Foundation. It went very well, and all the
proceeds went to the orphanage that the Cherish
Foundation has been sponsoring. Lona feels that
Indian weddings, the festivals of Diwali and Holi, and
every festival celebration, “has enriched our senses
and taught my children a life outside western culture.
We have seen poverty, hardship, sadness but have
equally seen happiness, colour, religion, graciousness,
hospitality, tradition and culture. I always refer to India
as, Yeh Mera Bharat, particularly in relation to my
She goes on to add “My children and I are now
quite used to spicy food, and enjoy the different facets
of Indian cuisine. We have travelled to Kerala, Goa,
Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and
Punjab. But there is so much more to see. When we go
back home for a visit we always miss India. The colors,
the people, the sounds! I miss seeing the buffaloes
randomly crossing the streets, the hustle and bustle.
Somehow it all works, ordered chaos! I have tried to
describe this in my photography, continually seeing
something new each day, which adds to my fieldtrip
of life! My children have grown up on Bollywood,
Parle sweets, rotis, butter naan, butter chicken, horn
ok please, autos, buffalos, Krishna, Ganesh, incense,
Elka - change will not happen from the outside
temples, maids, drivers, Chota Bhim – what interesting
stories to tell later!”
Lona loves photography and enjoys taking pictures
at all the heritage monuments around the city. Her
images are up on the net and some of her shots are
truly amazing. She has been able to raise money for
charities through the sale of her photographs. She is
enjoying doing this because she has this urge to do a
little something for this country she loves—if through
the sale of her photographs, she can raise the money
and help some needy people, then it suits her well.
The bottom line
There are expats and there are expats—of all
hues and from different countries. They participate in
the various musical shows etc., and are quite active
on Page 3—which is the page for all social activities
especially if you happen to be in a position of authority.
But very few actually get out to interact at the level
of the nitty gritty! They are willing to get their hands
dirty, stick their necks out to help other women better
their lives – for that I have to salute these women who
have come out of their comfort zone to do things for
the neighbours – going beyond the color of the skin,
the pollution and the ‘ordered chaos’ as Lona calls it. TII
Lonas photography page
Elca Groeblers
Shyamola Khanna is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad.
Janine Baker- no plans of leaving India
Lona Logan- avid photographer of India’s soul
Sunderdas Zaveri
L. Sunderdas Zaveri (LSZ) has
been in the jewellery business
for the last eight decades. They
are a traditional family business
of international repute. Originally
from India; they specialize in gold,
diamond and solitaire jewellery. L.
Sunderdas Zaveri is amongst the
very few companies in the jewellery
industry to be an ISO 9001 certified
company, thereby testifying their
commitment towards quality.
The specialty of their diamond
jewellery is that it is handmade. LSZ
maintains the exclusivity of their
designs by having a “one design –
one piece” policy, thereby ensuring
customers of owning something
The strength of LSZ lies in their
customer service. The directors of
the company have a one-to-one
interaction with clients giving them
a great sense of comfort.
LSZ offers a unique package
- ‘Bespoke Bridal Jewellery’. Their
team of designers understands
the need of a bride for having a
distinctive look for each of the
functions and thereby customizes
an inimitable selection of jewels to
adorn her. L. Sunderdas Zaveri, believes in
building relations that last forever,
because L.Sunderdas Zaveri is,
Where Faith Is Forever...
Contact them at their boutique
store at the New Gold Souk Centre,
Bur Dubai and begin enhancing
your collection!
Giordano inaugurates new flagship store in Pakistan
- Expansion in Pakistan on track to open three more stores in 2014
Giordano, the global apparel brand
known for its everyday wardrobe
essentials, officially inaugurated its
concept flagship store at Dolmen
Mall, Clifton in Karachi, Pakistan.
A special celebration took place
attended by over 500 invited
guests, media, bloggers, fashion
models and local celebrities.
“Today we celebrate a
significant milestone with the
opening of our new flagship store
which signals the new design
direction for Giordano stores in
Pakistan and nearby regions in
the Middle East, Central Asia and
even Africa,” said Ishwar Chugani,
Managing Director of Giordano
Middle East FZE and Executive
Director of Giordano International.
With 260 stores operating including
in Central Asia, India, Pakistan and
Africa, Giordano has planned an
aggressive plans.
Deepak Babani gives keynote address at Emirates NBD
Global Business Series
Emirates NBD, a leading bank in the region, hosted
Deepak Babani (left), Chief Executive Officer of leading
electronics distributor Eros Group, to be the keynote
speaker for Global Business Series that took place
at 7pm on December 17, 2013, at Raffles Ballroom,
Raffles, Wafi.
Deepak Babani (Left) at the Emirates NBD event.
Citizen Launches The Fastest Satellite Synchronized
Watch In The World
CITIZEN launched its latest
PROMASTER collection in
Dubai, a revolutionary leap in
the history of the watch-making
Speaking to the media, Takahiro
Miyazaki, General Manager,
CITIZEN Watches Middle East said,
“In this fast-changing world, time is
always a constraint, especially if it’s
about innovation and technological
advances. CITIZEN’s Eco-Drive
SATELLITE WAVE – AIR, the fastest
satellite synchronized watch in the
world, is superior in design and
state-of-the-art technology and
highly desirable.
Citizens new ProMaster collection
This advanced satellite timekeeping
system delivers much higher
reception sensitivity and is the
world’s first light-powered watch
with a full-metal case that receives
time signals from navigation
satellites. It engages atomic clocks
of the closest orbital satellites
circling the earth from about
20,000 kilometers above, a
beams signals directly back to your
watch no matter where you are.
Further, this system dynamically
adjusts your time so that you’ll
never be out of sync. Its speed to
correct the time is also the fastest
among all satellite-synchronized
ITL Group marks 60 glorious years of successful
operations and partnerships in Dubai
ITL Group, the first company
in Dubai to receive a decree of
incorporation from the late His
Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed
Al Maktoum, marked its 60th
anniversary of operations in the
UAE, at a glittering ceremony held
in Dubai,
HH Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al
Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture,
Youth and Social Development,
said.”The development of ITL
Cosmos mirrors closely that of
the city of Dubai itself.” Mr. Murij
Manghnani, Group Chairman, said:
“Today is a milestone in the history
of ITL Group, and this success
owes to the vision and leadership
of Dubai. We are thankful to His
Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin
Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice
President and Prime Minister and
Ruler of Dubai, for the visionary
guidance, which has established
Dubai as a global city. Dr. Ram
HH Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Social
Development, HE Easa Saleh Al Gurg with Dr. Ram Buxani & Murij J. Manghnani of the
ITL Group
Buxani, President of ITL Group,
said: “Looking back on the six
golden decades of our company,
we feel an abounding sense of
gratitude to the visionary leaders of
this glorious nation and city, for their
encouragement and support to
not just us, but the entire business
community. Our growth would not
have been possible without our
esteemed partners, for their inbuilt
trust in us and our competencies.
Frank Raj
Winning In Diaspora! is TII’s New Theme
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.
Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace,
and gratitude.”
~ Dennis Waitley, Author: The Psychology of Winning
n case you missed it, TII has a
new motto as its positioning
statement right on our front
cover: Winning In Diaspora!
Having introduced the concept
of diaspora journalism in the region
over two decades ago, it is a
legitimate claim.
The International Indian is now in
its 21st year and while I cannot brag
about any spectacular achievement
in magazine publishing – yet, we are
certainly still in the game. This is a
long haul business.
“Winners believe in their dreams,
when that’s all they have to hang on
to!” is a line I often remember from
Dennis Waitley, one of my favourite
authors. He was also responsible for
getting me to think about winning in
a way I had not given much thought
to earlier.
The media is where the best
and worst of society is amplified
so when we set out to publish a
magazine for the Indian diaspora
two decades ago, we wanted to
produce something that would lean
towards bringing out the best in
people. That’s what this page is all
We all have our ideas about what
it means to win – most of it to do with
financial success. That is something
TII does not shy away from. We
have always included aspirational
content, with success stories galore
of Indians across the world. You will
see more interesting material as we
fine tune content about winning and
about diaspora.
On this last page of TII, I try to
bring in the balance between the
worldly and the otherworldly. There
is so much out there that we ignore
or completely miss because what we
can touch and see is so compelling,
constantly demanding our attention.
Winning is so much more than
just making more money or being
famous – henceforth I’d like to take
just one aspect of it in every issue
and try to get you to think in broader
terms, even as you work hard and
find your place in the sun.
Having just reconnected with
Waitley through his blog (www. I would like to share
some of his thoughts in this issue of
TII, starting with his excellent article,
‘From Motivation to Motive-Action,’
which I would urge you to read in
“In the past,” says Waitley,
“change in business and social
life was incremental and a set of
personal strategies for achieving
excellence was not required. Today,
in the knowledge-based world,
where change is the rule, a set of
personal strategies is essential for
success, even survival.
“Be proactive instead of reactive.
Ask yourself these questions: How
vulnerable am I? What trends must
I watch? What information must I
gain? What knowledge do I lack?
“We live in a time-starved,
overstressed, violent society. Much
of our over-reaction
to what happens to us every day
is a result of our self-indulgent
value system, where we blame
others for our problems, look to
organizations or the government for
our solutions, thirst for immediate
sensual gratification and believe
we should have privileges without
responsibilities. Learn how to be
flexible in the face of daily surprises,
which is one of the most important
action traits for a leader.
And here’s one winning trait that
would certainly be worth picking up
from Waitley’s own life experience.
He says, “I really haven’t been
angry for about 17 years. During that
time, no one has tried to physically
harm me or someone close to me.
I’ve learned to adapt to stress in
life and reserve my fear or anger
for imminently physically dangerous
situations. I rarely, if ever, get upset
with what people say, do or don’t
do, even if it inconveniences me.
I do react emotionally when I see
someone physically or emotionally
abusing or victimizing another. But
I’ve learned not to sweat the small
Here’s to a fabulous 2014, filled
with meaning and purpose! TII
Frank Raj is TII’s founding editor
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