Indian-origin Singapore businessman gets South Asian award

Singapore: Indian-origin businessman Murli Kewalram Chanrai was presented the Outstanding Member of the South Asian Diaspora award by Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

The Thursday night's award, first of its kind given during the second South Asian Diaspora Convention (SADC) 2013, recognised Chanrai?s outstanding career achievements as well as his extraordinary service and contributions to society, not just in Singapore but also in South Asia and in South Asian diasporic communities such as Africa.

His varied charitable projects include funding for medical research, aid for the upliftment of tribals and free medical care to the needy in India, and scholarships and bursaries to needy students in Nigeria.

Aged 91, Chanrai, has also achieved great success as a businessman.

He joined his family business – the Kewalram Group – at age 19 as a clerk, blazing a trail as he worked his way up to become its Chairman in 1992.

"He was also among the first Singaporeans to see the opportunities for Singapore investors in India when the market liberalised in 1992," said the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) which organised the two-day SADC.

Representing the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as its Chairman, Chanrai participated in the first high-level business delegation to India in early 1993.

Spurred on by the optimism he met there, he took the lead to spearhead investments into India, the jewel of the crown being the very first integrated info-tech park in India, the International Technology Park or ITPL in Banglalore, which was built by a Singapore consortium, said ISAS at the gala dinner attended by more than 1,000 international delegates of South Asian origins.

President Tan also launched the Encyclopedia of the Sri Lankan Diaspora at the dinner.

"With a community of more than three million people, the widely spread Sri Lankan diaspora holds a distinctive position within the larger South Asian diaspora," said ISAS, a think tank in the National University of Singapore.