In the eastern world, some people feel that British, with their stiff upper lip have always some reservation about people from Asia. What happened in Leicester in the last 3 weeks surely has a different resonance. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, a Thai entrepreneur died in a helicopter accident, just outside the Club ground on October st 27th. He had bought the Leicester City Football Club in 2010 with £39.3mn and continued to invest and the team reciprocated with unprecedented success in the Premier League after 10 years of absence. Chairman Vichai (or Boss) as he was lovingly called, by everyone in Leicester, players, fans, and common man alike.
His funeral took place in the far off Thailand. Last weekend prior to a match the Leicester team members and many many thousands of Leicester's citizens marched through the City in his honour. Why? What made them move?
It was Vichai's generosity, his faith in his Buddhist traditions but more importantly his faith in the manager, captain, team members of the Club and the city of Leicester. He contributed £100,000 for the remains of Richard III excavation. He had earlier promised that he would spend as much as £180mn to ensure that the Club broke into the top 5 within 3 years from 2014.
At the start of the 2015/16 season the book makers offered odds of 5000-1 on winning the Premier League. On May 2nd 2016, surprise surprise! Leicester City Football Club had won the Premier League. It had taken two years and Vichai had spent only a third of the money he had pledged.
Before important matches, Buddhist monks would be flown in from Thailand in Vichai’s private jet to offer prayers and spiritual support before the game. There is a Buddhist shrine at the ground. According to Forbes, Vichai was the seventh richest person in Thailand, worth estimated £2.5bn, which means with around 1.5 percent of his wealth Vichai made a mark on the English football.
Now we know in India every week, one if not two billionaire are added to the national league. In Britain there are dozens if not more people of Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan origin who are billionaires. Many think they are, or pretend to be so. Equally, there are some who really are- who are but in the Rich lists. Just a thought, in the spirit of Diwali, 2 percent or 5 percent create reverberations far beyond our immediate circle of influence. The most inspiring example is of the British Jewry, numbering around 250,000. Their generosity can be seen in so many institutes, in education, health, art and culture et al. Fortunately some Indian philanthropy or prudent placement of wealth is coming along. There is a scope for much more.
We are celebrating centenary of the Armistice day world wide. It’s noteworthy that at the Cenotaph on Sunday, the German President was side by side with the Prince of Wales. The modern Germany has done normally unimaginable. Their absolute ownership of the war mongering in the past, apology, corrective steps have enabled them to move on with firm footing and dignity.
The First World War, demolished 4 empires viz. Russian, Ostro-Hungarian, German and the Ottoman. The geography has changed in Middle East and Europe. In Europe with better, overall, peace and harmony. In the Middle East, sadly completely opposite in that sense. Whose fault? Victors cannot wash their hands off! India unexpectedly has risen as a united, federal, republic with democracy well entrenched after several centuries of foreign domination. The Gandhian teaching of peace and non violence have been truly well rewarded.