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Raj Loomba: I want global focus on plight of widows



Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair along with NRI Raj Loomba,
paid obeisance at the Golden Temple

Amritsar, January 12, 2008
Balwinder Dhaliwal

Ex- British prime minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair paid obeisance at the Golden Temple. On the visitors' book at the temple, she wrote, "I feel honored to visit this holy and spiritual place."

Cherie Blair along with NRI Raj Loomba remained at the at Harmandar Sahib about 1/2 hour. She dressed in trousers and a kurta with a dupatta went around the shrine before paying obeisance.

Blair went to Dhilwan village, Kapurthala district and met children and villagers to greet them. Dhilwan village is located between Amritsar and Jalandhar. The Loomba Trust & Foundation's chairperson Cherie Blair announced a grant of Rs.5 million (50 lakh) to set up model school of the school in the village.

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UK NRI Raj Loomba, donate Rs. 50 lakh (Rs 5 mn) for his native village School in Punjab

Chandigarh, January 05, 2008
Balwinder Dhaliwal

London NRI Raj Loomba announced a grant of Rs.5 million for the renovation of his native village school Dhilwan, district Kapurthala, Punjab. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal promised to give a matching grant of another Rs.5 million.

Mr. Loomba said, "It was a nice gesture from the chief minister to make the announcement of a matching grant. If every NRI helps his or her village, the educational needs of most villages of Punjab can be taken care of."

Mr. Badal said, "You people have done well in life. You can contribute to your roots. My government will match your contribution for the betterment of villages."

Raj Loomba was born, one of seven children, at Dhilwan, Punjab in 1943. His parents, Shri Jagiri Lal Loomba and Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, had a successful business which was conducted under the motto: "Ik bol- Ik tol" ('One price, no haggling and true weighing') Having won high respect for adhering to such principles, Shri J. L. Loomba died in 1954 and the children were then brought up by their widowed mother, Shrimati Loomba -known to everyone as Biji -was greatly loved and, after she died in 1992, Raj led his family in establishing the Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Charity Trust to help widowed Indian mothers educate their children.

Educated at D. A. V. College, Jullundhur and at the State University of Iowa, U.S.A., Raj founded his fashion group, Rinku of London plc, of which he is now Chairman. His group employs some fifty people in four countries.

In 1966 Raj married Veena Chaudhry and they have two daughters, Reeta and Roma, and one son, Rinku. Having lived for 18 years in the north of England, where his son and his daughters, Reeta and Roma, now 38 and 35, were born, he moved to London in 1980. What drives him, he said, was the memory of his mother, who had to bring up three sons and three daughters when she was widowed at 37. Although still a mild-mannered man, today he expects to sit at top table at Asian functions and hobnob on equal terms with Lord this and Sir that. He likes to attract the rich and the powerful to his annual Diwali parties, rather in the manner the Hindujas once did.

He explained his homely philosophy behind his classic rags-to-riches NRI story: I have said in life, there are four factors your vision, your resources, your effort and the fourth one is a bit of luck.

A member of the Institute of Directors, IPS, Nargis Dutt Cancer Relief Fund, and many other organisations, Raj was awarded the Hind Rattan in 1991, the same year he was presented with the International Excellence Award. He was awarded I.C.S. (Indian Community Services) Award 1995, presented by Lord Swraj Paul in India.

In 1997, he realised a personal 'dream' when, as Chairman of the British Indian Golden Jubilee Banquet committee, he led the arrangements for a magnificent banquet, at The Grosvenor House, London, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of India's Independence and raised £240,000 to support leading British universities

Loomba is fortunate to have a powerful supporter in Cherie Blair who this year became president of the charity he set up in memory of his late mother to help widows and their children in India. He met her at the Grosvenor House banquet and since widows, children and education are close to her heart, she immediately became a patron of the Shreemati Pushppati Memorial Trust.

Funds raised from that celebration have established Visiting Fellowships at leading universities in England to increase awareness of the cultural history of India and of the many contemporary achievements of its peoples. At that banquet His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales placed a shawl around Raj's shoulders -the highest honour a guest can bestow upon a host.

Indians abroad say they have to be high-profile to raise funds, but once they become high- profile, the Oscar Wildish first law of Indian public life takes over: There is one thing worse than being a failure and that is being successful.

This is a point worth considering as the President distributes prizes today to the big names from the Indian diaspora.

NRIs support charities to brighten Diwali- Raj Loomba who raised 250,000 pounds (over $500,000) for poor widows in India including 25,000 pounds for the Safer London Foundation at a charity Diwali dinner in London a few days ago.

He also hold another charity Diwali dinner in New York. Over the last 10 years, he has raised 1.5 million pounds for this worthy cause.

The trust works to raise awareness of and care for poor widows and their dependants. The main focus of the trust is to educate the children of poor widows to break the vicious cycle of poverty caused by widowhood. It has achieved its initial target of educating at least 100 children in each of India's 29 states. That totals 2,900 children.

Another 500 were added in Tamil Nadu after the tsunami. Currently, the trust is educating 3,600 children of poor widows in India.

Ten years after it was set up, the trust has expanded its work to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kenya and South Africa and plans to work in Nepal and Uganda in future. Its international work took off last year with partnership programmes in South Africa and Bangladesh; and Sri Lanka and Kenya in partnership with Youth Business International of Prince Charles and Virgin United of Sir Richard Branson.

Former mayor of London Sir David Brewer hosted the glittering dinner with current Mayor Ken Livingstone. The guest of honour was Sir Ian Blair, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and president of the Safer London Foundation.







Cherie Blair

NRI Raj Loomba

  • The Loomba Trust & Foundation are working to have the United Nations recognize International Widows Day to draw global attention to the plight of an estimated 100 million destitute widows and their children around the world. International Widows Day was launched in the United Kingdom at the House of the Lords
  • Raj founded his fashion group, Rinku of London plc, of which he is now Chairman. His group employs some fifty people in four countries.

Late Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba
  • The Loomba Trust was established in the UK on 26 June 1997. It was created by Raj and Veena Loomba by charitable trust deed, and has a sister charity registered in India. The inspiration came from Raj’s late mother, Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, who became a widow at the age of 37 and succeeded in educating her seven children single-handed. The Trust aims to educate the children of poor widows throughout India.
  • The Trust was officially launched in London on 25 March 1998 in the presence of the British Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP and his wife, Cherie Blair QC. The Trust also received the support of the Prime Minister of India, The Honourable Atal Behari Vajpayee, who inaugurated the Trust in New Delhi on 31 March 1999 by lighting a lamp at his residence.
  • The Trust was honoured that Cherie Blair QC, who became the first Patron of the Trust in 1998, agreed to become the President of the Trust and officially inaugurated Loomba House in London on 8th September 2004.
  • Our Flagship International Widows day, which takes place each year on 23 June, launched in 2005 by our President Cherie Blair QC, has gained widespread recognition and we are pressing ahead with our campaign to gain UN recognition for International Widows Day as a focus for sustained global action to raise awareness of the plight of widows in so many countries.