Super rich

Indo-Canadians

Dossier

November 7, 2015

/ By

Biz@India

March-April 2014



dosier

Super rich Indo-Canadians may not be quite in the same league as business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani or L N Mittal. But they are certainly a dynamic force in the Canadian economy and society. Here is the detailed report on some super-rich Indo-Canadians who not only financially rich, but also rich in spirit and heart.

India’s super rich struts the global stage. In 2013, there were some 141 Indians with a net worth of $300 million or more, 41 more than in the previous year, according to the Hurun India Rich List 2013. Energy tycoon Mukesh Ambani of Reliance topped the list for the second year running with a fortune of $18.9 billion. He was closely followed by London-based L N Mittal with assets of $15.9 billion dollars. Mittal rose from humble beginnings as a scrap metal dealer to set up ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker. Dilip Shanghvi, founder of Sun Pharmaceuticals, India’s second largest drug maker, broke into the Top 3 for the first time with a 66 per cent surge in his wealth to $14.1 billion.

Similarly, super rich Indo-Canadians are also making their mark. Steve Gupta’s tale is an immigrant’s ragsto- riches story to rival the classics. He arrived in Toronto in 1971 at the age of 20 with little more than $100 in his pocket. He took factory jobs and sold life insurance to support him, until he had saved enough money to make a down payment on his first commercial property.

Today, Gupta is a developer and operator of hotels throughout Ontario, and owns 15 hotels with over 2,700 rooms. In 2010, he became the first Canadian and the only South Asian to have won the Marriott Horizon Award. He also received the Hotel Association of Canada Humanitarian Award 2010 in recognition of his ongoing support to local, national and international initiatives. In addition, he was one of the winners of the 2013 Royal Bank of Canada Top 25 Canadian Immigrant awards.

Gupta recently had this to say about his new home, “We must respect our new adopted country, think positive and appreciate what Canada provides us in infrastructure, health benefits, cultural values, lifestyle, safety and education, and above all a standard of living that is second to none.”

Surjit Babra, a renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist, is another immigrant success story. From a very humble background, he was born in India, raised in Kenya and India, and started his career in travel business in the UK in 1972. He established the first SkyLink Travel office in Toronto in 1979. The SkyLink Travel Group’s global presence is well known under the brands SkyLink Travel, FlyLink Travel, Tourcan Vacations and SkyLink Holidays.

Babra has received many honours for his philanthropic and business pursuits. In particular, he helps some of the world’s most vulnerable developing areas. For example, SkyLink provides funds to oneprosper. org for drip irrigation farming in India, as well as supporting charities that rescue young women from street life in India. Internationally, SkyLink has made donations of medicines, equipment, relief funds, food and supplies to many countries after war, natural disaster, and political strife, and in times of great need.

Ramesh Chotai, who today is the President of Bromed Pharmaceuticals, has also travelled a long and winding road. He was born in Northern Uganda, and then pursued his education in Britain. Completing his training as a pharmacist in the UK and Switzerland, he joined ICI Pharmaceuticals in Kampala, Uganda. Chotai came to Canada in 1972. Starting as a pharmacist/manager at an Oshawa Pharmacy, he has built a very successful group of companies that manufacture and distribute medical and healthcare products around the world. His company, Bromed Pharmaceuticals, is one of the largest Canadian importers of pharmaceutical raw materials from India. Community builder and a philanthropist, he is the past President of the Hindu Mandir and Cultural Centre. Chotai is the Vice- Chairman of Canadian Museum of Hindu Civilization and was Diwali cochairperson of Trillium Health Centre for the year 2007.

Chotai recently welcomed the agreement of the prime ministers of Canada and India to initiate talks on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement. “It is the natural consequence of the prominent places the two countries hold in the global economy of the 21st century,” he said.

Vasu Chanchlani is an Indo-Canadian serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and trans-nations builder. He is co-founder of the Sigma Group of Companies. He is also an investor in dozens of companies globally consisting of start-ups and turnarounds. He is best known for his efforts towards improving Indo-Canadian relations through his philanthropic activities and engagement with Indian diaspora to serve bilateral interests of both Canada and India. Most recently, Vasu was awarded the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants award by the Canadian Immigrant magazine. Chanchlani established his private Canadian charitable foundation, the Chanchlani Foundation in early 2000s.

Chanchlani’s philanthropic efforts are guided by the motto to ‘inspire people and reward global excellence’. He has made serious financial contributions for supporting path-breaking health and public policy research, as well as nurturing entrepreneurship and leveraging new Canadians’ success and influence for deeper and gainful engagement between Canada and India.

Barj S Dhahan hails from a Sikh family from rural Punjab. He came to Canada in 1967 and since then, he lived in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is a graduate from the University of British Columbia and Regent College. Barj is the founder and chief executive officer of Sandhurst Group of companies, specialising in commercial real estate development. Sandhurst Group is also the largest Esso dealer and one of the largest Tim Hortons’ franchisees in British Columbia.

Dhahan has been instrumental in launching numerous education, health, and community development projects in British Columbia and in India since the 1980s. He is the co-Founder and Director of Canada-India Education Society (CIES), a registered Canadian charity focussing on health promotion and education in Punjab in partnership with Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust (GN Trust), established by his father Budh Singh Dhahan. He is also a certified Yoga teacher and a motivational speaker.

The list of successful Indo- Canadians could go on and on. But this quick survey of super-rich Indo- Canadians only serves to highlight that they are not only financially rich, but also rich in spirit and heart.

At a time when many countries are debating the pros and cons of migration, people should look to the example of Indo-Canadians to see the great contribution that immigrants can make to both the economy and society of their adopted country.

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