He is the arm and brain behind the architectural marvel The Dubai World Trade Centre. Padmashree J R Gangaramani, a Mumbaikar by birth, is a man who has been instrumental in giving the UAE the face it has now. Though his name might not ring a bell for many in India, those in the construction sector associate his name with the growth of the construction company in the UAE.
Gangaramani, who is currently the president and executive chairman of Al Fara’a group, was in the city this week as the chief guest at the Al Ain Returnees Association.
The construction magnate was completely at ease when he started speaking about how much he has enjoyed coming to Kerala over the years. “I have come to Kerala plenty of times before. Yousuf Ali (managing director, EMKE Lulu Group ) and Dr Azad Moopen (chairman, MIMS) are good friends of mine.”
About receiving Pravasi Bharathiya Samman and Padmasree in 2009 and 2010 respectively, he says, “I started working for 3,500 dirhams. Nothing was planned. It was all because of god’s grace and my parents’ blessing.” Gangaramani, who completed his engineering degree in 1971, moved to the United Arab Emirates as a project engineer at the Dubai World Trade Centre. He does not believe in luck and emphasises on working and living with positiveness and will-power. Although he runs a business empire, what earns him more respect and love is his humble nature. When asked what he finds most challenging about his job, his reply was simple, “The most challenging part of my job is that I miss calling my employees ‘colleagues’ nowadays.”
His plan to move to Dubai soon after his studies arose from the need to learn more. “There was nothing to learn here and the employment opportunity was limited here. I am very fortunate as an engineer for the projects I have done in Dubai. No other engineer must have got such a fortune. I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time,” he says with pride. He draws his inspiration from both modern and ancient architecture. “I do take cue from ancient architecture, but we should keep up with time. People’s moods change with time,” he says.
On his future plans for Al Fara’a, he says, “I will be opening one branch in each district in India. We have already opened branches in quite a few districts here. Wherever there is L&T we are also there,” he laughs. “We will be opening one in Kerala as well, soon.”
A philanthropist that he is, Gangaramani has a trust in his grandfather’s name, which functions with the objective to train helpers who reach Al Ain.
“The objective of the trust will be to train helpers in a skill they are interested in. We will also be working towards providing education to girl children here, which is also part of the future plan.”
J R Gangaramani, who follows a strict diet and is very particular about not only his fitness and health, but also of his employees, advices the younger generation to never work for money, to be honest and to stay fit. “I make even my cooks and driver come for jogging along with me. Along with hard work and dedication, today’s youngsters should also maintain a healthy and fit body.”