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
Chandigarh, January 05, 2008
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
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
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
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.