Welcome to my blog. I may write copy here that I would not present elsewhere. This blog allows me to comment while reporting for clients which can include subscription-only platforms. I use it to take a sideways look at running stories, and all views presented here are my own.

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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Watching Reena and Rami Ranger

I am watching the rise of Reena and Rami Ranger on the London scene. They make a really interesting father-daughter pair. Both have a natural air, a Punjabi wholeheartedness and business acumen. But there’s still something quite down to earth about them.

Recently, Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA, Chairman, Sun Mark Ltd won an unprecedented fifth consecutive Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade.

Prime Minister David Cameron visited the headquarters of Sun Mark Ltd. in Greenford on Friday 18th July 2014 to present the award.

Rami Ranger connects Britain to 115 countries through trade.

He built his empire in the UK from the ground up. His son-in-law Harmeet Ahuja is the Sun Mark CEO.

Dr. Ranger oftentimes pays tribute to his mother; he says she taught him the values which have been the bedrock of his success. She brought Rami and  his siblings up to be wholesome people despite having lost her husband during the partition of India and despite having to live in abject poverty in a refugee camp. 

Reena Ranger is making a name for herself by expending energy in the right sort of ways if public service is her goal.

She has worked very hard and is now a councillor. She’s Dr. Rami Ranger’s eldest daughter and Chairwoman-Founder of the social organisation, Women Empowered. She worked for the family business from a young age and learnt to deal with all aspects of the company under the guidance and support of her father.

What is unusual about Reena is that she is steadily and consistently creating formats through Women Empowered for people to connect and to learn. The sessions always incorporate a questions and answer session where the questions are not controlled in any way.

And in the recent Vivek Oberoi event that I attended, Reena quite patiently waited until well after most of the guests had got their photos with the star guests before politely and quietly asking if one could be taken of her husband and herself with Vivek.

I know Reena is making waves because many women I meet swear by Women Empowered and tell me it makes a difference to their lives. I like the notion of giving in this fashion rather than doggedly working at being a councillor as a career step to becoming an MP with little else apart from work.

And the talk is that it won’t be long before Reena is given a seat to fight. Her family is behind her all the way.
As for Rami, he supports where he can and many events I attend bear the discreet hallmark of his backing.
He is pioneering  and a  nice story of a successful immigrant. He doesn’t ever dwell on current success, rather on how he and his family struggled to build from nothing.

I don't normally single out people who host events or businessmen on their own in this site but I feel I need to make an exception in the case of these two people. One, a well known face in the community, has made a massive contribution to trade and industry, the other, definitely on her way up the political ladder- and doing it with  a fair amount of grace. 

Full disclosure; Rami happens to be a friend of my late father's. But he has taken a lead among the current generation of business owners that is worth noting. 


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Reena Ranger's Women Empowered, Sewa Day, Movie Star Vivek Oberoi and Director Gurinder Chadha

Reena and her father Rami Ranger were kind enough to invite me along with my son and a friend to a spectacular evening recently held at the Bright Courtyard  Club in Baker Street earlier this month as their guests.

The event venue was light, bright and packed out, with well behaved audience members politely assembling in anticipation. Director Gurinder Chadha was there nice and early, amiable and chatty. Her husband Paul was in watchful attendance. It was good to catch up with her. They are preparing the West End opening of their musical "Bend in Like Bekham" and trying  to fit in a film (about Partitition)  before then.

People drank wine, ate canapes and mingled. As soon as the star guest, Vivek Oberoi, entered the room, there was a frisson with camera phones suddenly clicking away.

Reena confidently opened proceedings with a welcome address. Manoj Ladwa, Trustee of Sewa Day, a charity effort to serve the community round the world, talked about how he feels the need for service and shocked me with some heartfelt honesty about his relationship with his mother. Manoj handled communications for Indian PM Narendra Modi election campaign recently and is a quiet presence on the London scene. Other Sewa Day founders were also present.

Gurinder and Vivek took to the stage and Gurinder started asking the gently spoken, slim actor her questions.
Vivek has a stellar Bollywood career but he has devoted a huge amount of his time and energy to doing good. He was awarded the Red and White Bravery Award for helping rebuild a tsunami-hit village. He is the WHO's anti-tobacco spokesperson, and supports a whole host of charities including Banyan, which works towards rehabilitating mentally challenged, homeless women.
His passion for helping others was palpable and confounded expectation. At times, he became emotional when discussing service to others and the joy he derives from sharing with those perhaps less fortunate than himself.

While our photos were being taken I was able to ask Vivek an exclusive  question on tape, about why he felt it was important to attend the event. He told me,

"It almost didn't happen, actually. I was pretty busy at work, and I called up Manoj, and I was like, "Is it OK if I postpone this?" [He replied] "You have to make it." "And I just decided on the spur of the moment that no, I should come out here and reach out to people. I'm actually heading back tomorrow. I just came in only for this. To reach out to people and make a difference. That's why it's so important. The kind of people that were here today can have a very deep impact on a much larger society. I think we can take the flame forwards."

Of the Indian film stars I have interviewed over the past year or two, Vivek Oberoi impressed me as the one most committed to service. He clearly forms a special bond with those he meets through this work and they, in turn, have an impact on him.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

UK-Based Indian Diplomats Becoming More Media-Friendly

There's definitely a warmer, more inclusive approach to journalists from India House these days- at least those journalists who regularly report on matters Indian. There are more media briefings being organised, with the High Commissioner making himself more available to answer questions.

I've noticed that some senior officers have their favourites amongst the Indian  journalists.

There is also a seeming increase in events these days, though that could be due to the time of the year (Delhi is hot these days) and a new government in place. One such happening was a talk by former Indian Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi. The grand Gandhi Hall was packed out and Quraishi held the audience with a kind of magnetism. His personality and delivery  lifted this event away from the normal standard and made it fun.

Report here; Quraishi does good interviews, too.