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Indo-Canadian businessman Bob Dhillon acquires Maharaja Ranjit Singh's sword

Shiv Bhatia
By Shiv Bhatia

NEW DELHI, April 6: In a historical first, Indo-Canadian businessman Bob Dhillon has acquired a 33.5-inch long curved sword of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799-1849) at an undisclosed price. It was sold by London-based auction house Mullock on April 3 and the auctioneers have authenticated it. The bidders were from Punjab to New York to Mongolia to Hong Kong. Majority of the bidders were London based.

Bob Dhillon
Bob Dhillon

Speaking with, Bob Dhillon, who is President of Mainstreet Equity Corporation with real estate holdings of over a billion dollars, said “We have been told that I was the successful bidder on this amazing piece of history for a sword belonging to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. I should receive the sword in two weeks.”

Bob Dhillon, who is a Calgary-based real estate developer and first Sikh billionaire in Canada, said “I am elated to have acquired a piece of Sikh history.”

Maharajah Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) was the founder of the Sikh Empire and unquestionably one of the most important and charismatic figures in Indian history. The empire, based in the Punjab existed from 1799 to 1849 and forged on the foundations of the Khalsa. At its height the Empire extended over a vast territory encompassing much of what is today Pakistan, Kashmir and East Punjab.

After the empire was conquered by the British, most Sikh artefacts remained in the hands of private collectors or museums in Britain.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh“I am humbled that after 165 years, my family can help our community once again become the custodian of our own history," said Dhillon.

Besides this sword, Dhillon has also acquired a number of manuscripts and miniature paintings.

Explaining how he came to acquired the historical sword, Dhillon said when he was visiting India with the Governor General of Canada as an official delegate in February of this year, he saw an article in a Indian newspaper discussing a sword belonging to Maharaja Ranjit Singh coming up for auction in England.

“Now, if I was in Canada, I would have never known about this auction. So when I came back to Canada, I investigated the authenticity of the sword, and the process for this auction. The initial auction was set for March 18. But just before the auction, due to many bidders interested, they pulled the sword from the auction to sell at a later date.”

He said “then on April 2 there was a private auction with a sealed bid process. The reason for the sealed bid was that a lot of the bidders wanted to remain anonymous, also the final bid amount was to remain private. We were told yesterday that I was the successful bidder on this amazing piece of history for a sword belonging to Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Dhillon said initially there were over 700 bidders from all over the world. Later, there were as many as 175 international bidders.

Sword inscribed Maharajah Ranjit Singh – early 19th century Northern India curved talwar sword, inscribed in Punjabi script inside the hilt ‘Akal Sahai Ranjit Singh Lahore’ and dated.

The sword has remnants of what seems gold pitted around the hilt. The blade has an engraved silhouette on the upper part nearing the hilt depicting Ranjit Singh seated beside a cushion and inscribed ‘Ranjit Singh’ beneath it. The sword hilt is possibly earlier of 18th century with a watered blade possibly Persian, and leather covered scabbard. Overall length of the sword is 85cm (33.5 inches).

Dhillon completed his MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in 1998. He currently sits on the Entrepreneur Advisory Council for the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Bob Dhillon is the President and CEO of Mainstreet Equity Corp. as well as the founder and largest shareholder. Mainstreet (TSX: MEQ) has achieved a 910% total return on investment over the last 10 years – making it Canada’s highest performance real estate company. Mainstreet’s assets are valued at over $1 billion, consisting of over 8,500 apartment units in Western Canada.

Bob is also the owner of National Payments, a Visa and MasterCard approved Mercantile Protection business involved with the financial services industry.

Dhillon is the Honorary Consul General for Belize in Canada. He owns a private 3,000 acre island in Belize that he is developing into a world-class tourist resort.

Bob is a heavy-weight proponent of the intellectual capital and technological capabilities found in the India of today. Putting real life action behind these beliefs, Mainstreet has invested in the outsourcing to India of its corporate digital assets, including: website, Apps and operations software, and looking to open a backroom office in India.

'UK giving cold shoulder to foreign students'

LONDON, April 11: A House of Lords committee on Friday accused the David Cameron government of creating an unwelcoming atmosphere for international students from countries like India.

The Lords Science and Technology Committee found a 10% drop in the number of foreign students coming in to study crucial science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses in a report released in London.

"We have seen quite significant growth in China and Hong Kong in particular, while in India and Pakistan in particular we have seen some reductions. Those reductions have been throughout STEM and non-STEM," the report said in its country-wise analysis.

It added: "The number of students from India increased rapidly from 2003/04, reaching a peak of nearly 12,000 in 2008/09. In the last two years, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of Indian students coming to study in the UK to around 5,000 students.

"The data show a volatile recent history in student numbers from both India and China. STEM subjects that Indian students were most likely to study were the three which showed the greatest recent declines in numbers of new entrants: engineering and technology, computer sciences and subjects allied to medicine...

"It is important to note that both India and China are important markets for UK universities seeking to attract international students."

Lord Krebs, chair of the science and technology committee, blamed changes to the immigration rules having a direct impact on overseas students coming into the UK.

"When we really need to send the message that international STEM students will get a warm welcome in the UK, they're getting the cold shoulder and heading elsewhere."

Krebs said the rules are seen as too complex and subject to endless changes, the visa costs are not competitive, and the rules relating to work after study are so limiting that prospective students are heading to the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

The government's claims that the decline in the strength of the rupee against the pound was contributing to the decline in the number of Indian students was dismissed by the committee as "not a major factor".

The latest report follows similar critical findings by the Higher Education Funding Council for England earlier this month, which revealed that the number of Indian students fell from 18,535 in 2010-11 to 13,250 in 2011-12 and further to 10,235 in 2012-13.

The Home Office dismissed the report's findings relating to immigration and student visa rules.

"We do not accept that the UK's immigration rules are deterring international students and there is no clear evidence in the report to support that argument," a Home Office statement said.

Kingdom of Dreams celebrates the 2nd anniversary of ‘Jhumroo’

GURGAON, April 7: Jhumroo, the musical comedy on stage – World’s biggest Indian cinematic themed, theatrical musical comedy show presented by Kingdom of Dreams celebrated the completion of its second anniversary on Monday. This milestone coincides with a splendid run of 600 shows.

In an eventful journey of two years Jhumroo, the grand musical on stage has been viewed and enjoyed by celebrities, international audience as well as the regular visitors to Kingdom of Dreams. The show continues to enthrall the audiences each day with its delightful characters and rib-tickling comedy. The spectacular visual effects on stage mesmerise and strike awe in its viewers while the supremely enjoyable Kishore Kumar music weaves its magic and leaves them asking for more!

Expressing his excitement on this milestone Viraf Sarkari said, “This is an extremely proud moment for us. We created the show, Jhumroo to celebrate the spirit of the legend of Kishore Kumar and the show has been spectacularly successful in the last two years. Visitors have come in each day to the Kingdom of Dreams to enjoy the show and have truly enjoyed the sublime music of Kishore da.

Jhumroo is the world’s biggest bollywood musical along with Zangoora and we are sure that this milestone will once again establish Kingdom of Dreams as the one and only live entertainment destination that is committed to provide enjoyment for its visitors”

A happy Gaurav Gera, the lead star of Jhumroo, said, “Jhumroo is a one of its kind musical, Bollywood stage show in the world. I have enjoyed performing in it every-time and am grateful for the love showered on me by the people who have helped us achieve this milestone. This achievement fills me with the confidence that Jhumroo will continue to enthrall and engage its audiences in the times to come and help us accomplish more such milestones”

To celebrate the milestone Kingdom of Dreams offers its audience a double extravaganza by presenting Buy one get on free offer on Jhumroo tickets on Silver and above category. The offer is valid till April 10.

Gurgaon Fashion Week to open on April 17

By Deepak Arora

GURGAON, April 3: A four-day fashion extravaganza called the Gurgaon Fashion Week (GFW) will be held at the Millennium City from April 17. The event will showcase designer labels such as Ritu Kumar, Bisu by Surveen Chawla, Panache by Aarja, 09 by Janhavi Gupta, Shaa by Shweta, Reet by Kaveri Batla and many more.

Also establishing their presence will be recognizable brands like BMW, Budweiser, Juvalia & You, MobiKwik, Red Paws Rescue (NGO) and Wess (NGO). Upcoming and established fashion talent will display their latest collections through runway shows and exhibitions.

It also promises surplus opportunity to accelerate trade through the presence of buyers as well as throws the limelight on the hottest trends this season, according to Shubham Gupta.

The Gurgaon Fashion Week is pitched to be an exciting window to a spectacular fusion of traditional art, modern couture and globally relevant ready to wear designer collections.

Several prominent people lent their presence to the event. These included CEO of Juvalia & You Chaitanya Aggarwal, Vice President-Bird Automotive(BMW) Sanjeev Malik, GFW 2014 Style Consultant Reshmi Jani, General Manager of Galaxy Hotel Pradipta Biswas, Associate Director of Kingdom of Dreams Ms Ayesha Dahra, GFW Marketing Head Shubham Gupta and GFW Legal Advisor Rina Chaturvedi.

Rina Chaturvedi said "the GFW will prove to be an exciting platform for budding and established designers to come together and showcase their creative prowess in the pacy and urbane setting of Gurgaon for the first time. With the large number of fashion enthusiasts in the city and the plethora of talent that the GFW will unveil, we are sure that it will be a success in its present and future editions.”

Pradipta Biswas, GM Galaxy Hotel said, “The Gurgaon Fashion Week is a pioneering effort which will help place Gurgaon on India’s fashion map. At Galaxy Hotel our effort has always been to initiate and nurture properties that are unique and compare with the best in the world. Beginning with India’s first micro-brewery to establishing excellent standards of service and cuisine Galaxy has always been in the forefront. For us it is a natural culmination to help foster Gurgaon as the next style destination for world-class fashion. I am sure this fashion week, a precursor to a series of fashion weeks in the years to come will be successful in carving an identity for Gurgaon as a serious contender in the world of International Fashion.”

The Gurgaon Fashion Week will last for four days, allowing fashion designers, brands, "houses" to display their latest collections in runway shows / exhibitions and buyers and the media to take a look at the latest trends. Most importantly, this event will let the industry know what's "in" and what's "out" for the season.

GFW weaves designers from various states, cities and towns into one cohesive body. Representing both established and emerging designers, it plays an important role in guiding the industry towards its goal of sustainable growth. GFW is instrumental in facilitating designer corporate tie-ups, aimed at expanding the fashion market in the country and continues to make earnest endeavors to accelerate its efforts to ensure that Indian fashion creates a larger global imprint.

GFW is being held at Galaxy hotel, which is now proud to be a part of World Hotels, joining an elite list of 450 coveted hotels around the world. Galaxy has won awards like Best Hotel in Premium Category, Most Admired Restaurant Food & Beverage Retailer of the year.

Gurgaon Fashion Week is like no other fashion week on the international circuit. In addition to being hosted in a city that can only be described as a new age phenomenon, it is the only fashion week which showcases a mix of traditional culture, modern couture and international ready to wear designer collections.



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