Dubai: The life and lessons of Vasu Shroff, an Indian business patriarch in Dubai, is now available in a book with a foreword written by the UAE’s Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan.
Chairman of the Regal Group of Companies, Shroff, 80, was the first Indian business leader to receive the UAE’s golden visa in May 2019 and he is also a 2017 recipient of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India’s highest civilian award for overseas citizens.
Titled “A Regal Man — The Life and Lessons of Vasu Shroff,” the biography written by award-winning writer Priya Kumar is an attempt by Shroff’s grandson Krish Shroff to share the story of his “Dada (grandfather), an incredibly successful man not just in business, but in philanthropy and life.”
Prominent place in history
Addressing the veteran expat as Vasu, Sheikh Nahayan wrote in the foreword: “Your life deserves a prominent place in the history of the special and friendly relations between India and the UAE.”
Praising his business acumen, the minister went on to appreciate his philanthropy and community involvement dubbing those as “the most significant marks” of his good life. “Writing your biography is an opportunity to celebrate your remarkable accomplishments, your determination, your initiative and your hard work. As we recognise your success, we also celebrate the strong and lasting relationship that exists between India and the UAE. Our two countries have a long history of friendship and cooperation. In you, Vasu, we recognise the important contributions that people from India have made to our country, just as we celebrate the economic and cultural opportunities that so many people from India have gained in the UAE.”
Shroff, who had landed here when he was 19, is renowned as a salesman-cum-teacher who turned into a textile magnate by building Regal Traders into a leading house of fabrics in the region. He is equally well-known for his philanthropic contributions, including pivotal roles in the establishment of the Hindu Temple in Bur Dubai, the India Club, and the Indian High School.
In the introduction of the book, Krish says, he has also helped build 40 temples around the world, mainly in India, with 16 more in progress and a dream to build 101 in total. “He has also helped establish seven schools, two aged-folks’ homes, three cremation grounds, one hospital and a school for the speech and hearing-impaired.”
Speaking to Gulf News, Krish said many people have wanted to know the secrets behind his grandfather’s successes, and to learn more about the man. “Finally, we can share his complete never-before-told story with the world, especially at a time when we all need to re-root ourselves and seek new and better success for ourselves, and for our families. It is both inspirational, and deeply moving.”
The 270-pages book has around 20 photos ranging from the 1950s and 1960s, up till the present day. Having worked for about four to five years on the project, Krish said an extremely fortuitous connection with Priya led to the creation of the book. “I am truly delighted to share the book with the world, because although I might be biased, I feel this story will resonate strongly with everyone,” said Krish, who was heavily involved in the writing and editorial process, which took around two years.
Values that matter
He said his Dada got into this journey to share his wisdom with his four grandchildren. “But then as the project grew, Priya and I realised that Dada’s story is really one of faith in God, dedication to family, perseverance in life, and goodwill to humanity.”
“Dada does not simply talk about business clichés — in fact, he focuses primarily on how to live a good life. He is as frank and forthcoming about the mistakes he has made, losses he has suffered, and problems he has faced, as he is about what it is that saw him through to becoming such a success.
“It is a story about family, about values, about hope, and about faith, and I believe, especially as the world has been rocked by COVID-19, that Dada’s story can help to heal so many hearts, and inspire so many souls.”
Risks, losses, lessons
Though Vasu Shroff talks about the risks he took and lessons he learnt in helping establish his textile empire, he is equally vocal about what that success cost him. From time with his family, to the drain on his health, he is open about the virtues of simplicity, instead of extravagance, and frankly admits the mistakes he made along the way.
Having been beset by significant losses, including the premature death of his daughter days after her wedding, and the murder of his eldest brother, he is candid about his grief and suffering, and how he dealt with it, and continues to deal with it.
He shares his philosophy for living a good life — how he seeks to help people, what he does to keep himself truly fulfilled, and how he views his work.
The launch of the book will be at the Borders bookstore in the Mall of the Emirates on April 7. It will be available for sale at Borders, Regal stores, its e-commerce website and Amazon.ae.