All in the family

>> Boston Consulting Group, one of the world’s largest management consulting firm and Amarchand & Mangaldas, the country’s leading law firm recently invited 30 members of India’s top business families to the Taj Rooftop for a discussion on ‘Indian Family Businesses’ and issues they would face in the 21st century.

Adi Godrej

It was attended by the aristocrats of the business and financial community such as Adi Godrej, Uday Kotak, the Piramals, the Adanis, the Singh brothers from the Fortis group, Dr Reddy’s family, the Essar family, the RPG family,the Apollo Hospital family and the GMR family. You couldn’t get a more top flight audience. And no, we’re not revealing what was said during the discussion: after all, most of it is market sensitive!

Uday Kotak

A doctor and a lady
>> We were saddened to learn of the passing away of Dr Sita Panjabi earlier this month just a few months short of her 100th birthday. A lady of considerable beauty and grace, she was one of the first lady doctors from Sind. And her story speaks of India’s remarkable and progressive approach to women’s education and emancipation. Living in pre-partition days in Karachi, the daughter of a prominent lawyer Shrikishandas Lulla, Sita was sent at the age of 16 in 1929 to study medicine at The Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi by her father as there were no medical colleges in Sind that would admit women.

Dr Sita Panjabi

Travelling along with two fellow girl students on the 1,700-km rail journey from Karachi twice a year and undergoing considerable hardship she graduated in 1935 and joined the Dufferin College Hospital as one of the few lady doctors to attend to female patients. Later, she married BL Panjabi, an economist who was then working as an officer for the Reserve Bank, setting aside her career to bring up her children and attend to her home.

But her passion for medicine did not abate and later in her life she taught physiology and anatomy at the Dental College in Bombay attached to St George’s Hospital. She passed away in early July this year at just a little short of 100 years having seen both the World Wars. Is it any surprise that a lady of such calibre and strength gave birth to two of India’s outstanding women, namely her daughters, the Cambridge educated, internationally celebrated and universally admired Camellia and Namita Panjabi? Rest in peace Dr Panjabi. Salaam and salut!

The phoenix rises
>> Their names have been synonymous with the redevelopment of the mill area — and if Lower Parel has risen like a phoenix much of its credit has to go to the Ruias — Ashok and his son Atul who have tirelessly created some of the area’s best properties. And so befittingly Ashok Ruia celebrated his 70th birthday at his own hotel, the recently launched Shangri-La with a lot of fanfare.

While it was his son Atul and daughter-in-law Gayatri who took care of the guests, his spiritually inclined wife Amla lent the occasion its grace and dignity. Held in the yet to be opened new Chinese restaurant, on the hotel’s rooftop, guests were overheard gushing over the spectacular view. Incidentally, eight new restaurants including a very fancy bar featuring a live DJ will be opened on the same floor over the next couple of months making it one of the most eagerly awaited mid-town properties in the city .

All this must be music to the ears of Pune-based businessman Avinash Bhosale, who is said to own 10 per cent of the hotel’s shares. Close to powerful politicos across the board like Pawar of the NCP and Gopinath Munde of the BJP, he is alleged to have managed to procure all the clearances for the hotel’s launch. And given its long gestation it’s been not a moment too soon!

Acquiring importance
>> Some people get their sense of importance by having police accompany them everywhere they go. The two members of one of India’s top business houses who once ruled the electronics market are a case in point! Not satisfied with their private security they have hired policemen to escort them to their public engagements! And so dire is their need for importance that their respective Mercs carry the legend ‘Member of Parliament’ which they are clearly not. “Even the font and display of this message is tacky looking,” says our source. “The bold letters are the kind that you see behind trucks,” he shudders.
As for the red beacon on top of their car — alas after a complaint was filed that only special VIPs can flash the red light, it was confiscated.
Not that this would deter or embarrass the rather thick skinned swashbucklers!  

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