SPEECH PARKAR 4 JUNE 2011
We would like to welcome you all to this evening dinner-reception which in other words is MAKING A DIFFERENCE AWARD CEREMONY to honour people who help to improve the lives of others. Alif believe that no party is a party where the right people don’t meet in a relaxed manner to make contacts and exchange gossips. My thanks go to Baby Chattur who has chosen this restaurant for this evening’s party. I would like to acknowledge at the very start Prof. Ameena Gurrib who has added yet another feather to her cap: she has just been appointed chairperson of the International Council of Scientific Union for Africa region based in Pretoria. We have in our midst Mr. Koenig, an eminent Architect, who has designed the MCB HQ in Ebene, which is the first green building south of the Equator.
All three of our honorees to-night are familiar faces and names and must be personally known to most of you: Ali Parkar and Dharam Fokeer, elevated to GOSK and Cedric de Speville, to head the MCCI.
Ali Parkar originates from Cokan, India and as was to be expected from coastal people, he was bent on leading an adventurous life. His family settled down in Zanzibar where they created an important economic activity, cultivating coconut and cloves and trading. JAMBO. Ali always wanted to become a lawyer. He read law and was called to bar at the Lincoln’s Inn. The coup in East Africa forced Ali Parkar to leave for Seychelles where his family started a new life. They developed a giant business which included, tour operations, boat charters and car hire, trading and manufacturing. And it is in Seychelles that Ali met lovely Myriam and the thought of settling with a family took shape. All three of Ali’s children, Ahmed, Feizal and Salima are Dalons and Ali’s house is rendered lively by the presence of 6 grand children.
Coups happen to be part of Ali’s history. That in Seychelles forced Ali to look for a greener pasture and he landed in Mauritius to be convinced by SAJ to set up a textile factory. Thus started the creation of Star knitwear which is based in Coromandel and employs a few thousand workers and export mostly to UK.
Like all people, Ali has values which serve as his anchor and for which he will go over any length to live by. Despite the state of the art technology of today, Ali sees the factory an intensely human business based on personal relationships. He calls his employees by their first names and sees to it that they are not exploited. He lent his car once to transport a guest of ALIF but insisted that his driver be used during working hours which excluded service during the night.
At home, he is not very different. He is always relaxed and cheerful and teasing members of his family, especially his daughter, who seems to enjoy her dad’s jokes. The grandchildren are more at grand dad’s house than at their own. They adore him. It is virtually impossible not to adore him. He has a presence and kindness that light up a room.
ALIF owes its Patron an enormous debt for his precious guide and his generous budget grant. He shares our goal of a peaceful rainbow nation and joins us in our effort of community bonding through our activities. If ALIF has afforded to be very ambitious in pursuing its goals, it is thanks to Ali’s unflinching support.
Ali has been no less generous in the catchment area of his factory, supporting schools, religious organizations and social clubs. This is what he was doing in Seychelles too where he launched the environment programme. And this what he is doing in his native village of India where he has opened several schools.
This man has impeccable manners but is sometimes old-fashioned, what else can you expect from a chap educated in the best English tradition. Ali is a national treasure and should be treated as such. He has been dedicating his life to the country where he has lived. His contribution to Mauritius is unique and enduring. There is no greater honour that our nation can bestow on this citizen than to elevate him to this prestigious rank of GOSK. Congratulations and best wishes.