Indian and Pakistani-origin businessmen honoured with Peerage

Rupanjana Dutta Tuesday 10th September 2019 10:59 EDT

Dr Rami Ranger CBE, who started his business in London with two pounds in 1987, and went on to establish a multi-million pound empire viz. Sun Mark Ltd , the only company to have been awarded five consecutive Queens Awards for Enterprise, has been nominated to House of Lords, as a part of her resignation honour by former Prime Minister Theresa May. Besides Dr Ranger, a British Pakistani businessman Zameer Choudrey CBE, Chief Executive of Bestway Group, has also been appointed to the House of Lords. The appointment is in recognition of his considerable contributions to Britain’s domestic and foreign trade as a leading businessman and entrepreneur, his wide array of philanthropic work both in the UK and abroad, and his role as Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Pakistan.

72 year old Rami Ranger, who has been a donor to the Conservative party for years, has been reportedly donated more than a million pound over last 10 years. He was conferred with a MBE and CBE previously. He is the Co-Chairman of the Conservartive Friends of India and the Chairman of the British Sikh Association (BSA). The BSA was set up to stop the extremist Sikh organisations from representing the Sikh point of view in Britain. He has vigorously argued with these extremist organisations that the Sikhs were created to defend the unity, integrity and the basic human rights of every Indian and not to break her up.

He has forward as a community stalwart to help and was one of the key donors for the Mahatma Gandhi statue installed at the Parliament Square, in 2015, by the then Prime Minister David Cameron with India's former finance minister Arun Jaitley and actor Amitabh Bachchan.

Son of Sardar Nanak Singh, who opposed India's partition, and believed in an India-Pakistan united front, was was killed during the turmoil. Dr Ranger was born in Gujranwala (now in Pakistan) in July 1947, and began life with his widowed mother and seven siblings in a refugee camp in Patiala, in Indian state of Punjab.

Since the family's migration, Dr Ranger was given admission to the Modern School in Patiala. After the completion of his school education, he went to Mohindra College and then obtained a BA degree from the Government College, Chandigarh. He arrived in the UK in 1971 to study law, but could not continue with his education because of lack of funds.

He started his first business from a shed, in 1987 with just £2 capital, shipping cargo by sea, air and land. The business soon took off and he launched his export company, Sun Mark Ltd, in 1995, sourcing FMCG British products and exporting them to 120 countries. Dr Ranger narrated his story in a book titled ‘From Nothing to Everything’. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of West London in 2016.

Speaking to Asian Voice exclusively he said, “I am thrilled, delighted and overjoyed with this great honour given to me by this great country. My family and friends are very happy. I am looking forward to doing more public service now that I have been empowered and build bridges between the various communities.

“I also feel very humbled and proud of the fact that anyone can achieve anything in this country.”

He joins several Indian-origin Peers in the House of Lords, including Lord Swraj Paul, Bhikhu Parekh, Dolar Popat, Karan Bilimoria, Meghnad Desai, Navnit Dholakia and Jitesh Gadhia.

Every outgoing British Prime Minsiter draws up such a honour list to recognise former aides and those who have supported them. Such lists always attract criticism as well as praise, but mostly approved by the Cabinet Office. May’s list includes 57 individuals.

Dr Ranger's daughter, who is a young Councillor for the Conservative Party on a social media post said, "Congratulations to my Dad, Rami Ranger who has been conferred a peerage today and made Lord Rami Ranger.  Always proud of him, always a little infuriated by him, my champion and critic; his wisdom and life lessons have been invaluable.  Over 40 years in politics and business, in these interesting times, his experience and wisdom will be equally invaluable in this next chapter of his life and what comes next."

Zameer Choudrey CBE

As Chief Executive of Bestway Group, Zameer Mohammed Choudrey CBE has already driven tremendous growth in businesses across the UK and Pakistan. This led to Mr Choudrey being appointed to Deputy Chairman of the Pakistan Britain Trade & Investment Forum and serving as a member of the Confederation of British Industry’s Economic Affairs Committee in previous years.

He has also regularly been asked to facilitate private government visits to both Pakistan and the UK for senior government officials from both countries, including the Mayors of London and the West Midlands, and private investors, to discuss how both the UK and Pakistan can look to increase trade and investment. These strong ties with Pakistan will mean Mr Choudrey will be looking to utilise his vast experience to build more bilateral trade, create more jobs here in the UK and improve foreign relations between our two countries.

Mr Choudrey comes from humble beginnings having grown up in a remote village in Pakistan, before moving to the UK at the age of 12. His remarkable success over his career led to him being appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for services to industry and philanthropy. He also sits as a trustee for several national charities, including CrimeStoppers, Grocery Aid and Bestway Foundation, which has donated over £30 million to worthy education and healthcare causes. In January 2018, he was appointed as UK Chair of the British Asian Trust’s Advisory Council, by HRH The Prince of Wales.

In a comment to Asian Voice, Mr Choudrey said, “It is an immense honour. I am truly humbled to have been appointed to the House of Lords. I have always viewed the UK to be the land of opportunity and I look forward to contributing to the continued advancement of our great country.”

It is believed both have been honoured with the peerage due to their undying support for Mrs Theresa May, when she faced turmoil from her party and cabinet members over Brexit negotiations.

Raoul Ruparel, former Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Europe and Secretary of State for Exiting European Union has been conferred with an OBE for political and public services.

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