On the 27th December, Lord Bilimoria gave the opening keynote address to the World Zoroastrian Congress – held in Mumbai, India.
Under the title, “The Everlasting Flame of Zoroastrian Identity: An Unbroken Thread of Achievement from Cyrus the Great to Today,” Lord Bilimoria set out a narrative of Zoroastrianism in world history, ranging from the achievements of the largest of the ancient empires – which at its peak included for virtually half of the world’s population at the time – to today, one of the world’s smallest communities. Lord Bilimoria noted that from the Achaemenid Empire, to the British Raj, to modern India – Zoroastrians have been at the forefront of virtually every field they have put their hand to, wherever they have settled.
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My Lords, I have just returned this morning from attending the UK-India Roundtable in Delhi.
We started our meeting on the morning of the 6th December with two minutes of silence for Nelson Mandela.
India immediately declared five days of state mourning. In fact, there was no alcohol allowed to be served at our gathering!
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Lord Bilimoria gave a speech to the Oxford Union on Monday evening, having been invited to speak by the Union’s President, Parit Wacharasindhu. The Oxford Union is one of the most prestigious organisations in the world and hosts hundreds of speakers from the world of politics, business, activism and academia every year.
In a wide-ranging discussion – Lord Bilimoria talked about his formative years at university in India and the United Kingdom, noting where he first gain the inspiration for Cobra Beer when he was first introduced to Real Ale, before going on to describe his experiences in establishing the company from scratch. When the first batch of Cobra Beer was brewed in India, Lord Bilimoria noted that he had even had to borrow money from the owner of the brewery in order to purchase his inaugural pint!
Lord Bilimoria also outlined him main tenants for ensuring the success of Cobra Beer, even during times of adversity. He especially noted how the presence of a strong team and a supportive family had given him strength during difficult times. Taking the view that “good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement” – Lord Bilimoria also explained how even in times of crisis, the business had emerged all the stronger from it.
In concluding, Lord Bilimoria also cited his views on political matters, particularly regarding defence, immigration and House of Lords reform. He said that, despite cuts to the Royal Navy, Britain still had much to give to the world, especially in terms of engineering and design.
Following this – the President of the Oxford Union then fielded a number of questions from the audience, before those present decamped to the Union’s Gladstone Room, where further discussion took place over numerous bottles of Cobra Beer.
At the end of the evening, Lord Bilimoria was shown the Oxford Union’s famous debating chamber. As a former Vice-Chair of the Cambridge Union, he was pleased to have the chance to see the building under less strenuous circumstances than the last time he had visited!
Lord Bilimoria was the interviewee on “Walk the Talk” on NDTV, one of the leading commercial broadcasters in India. During the discussion, he spoke extensively about his career as a businessman, entrepreneur and politician, as well as about his life at home and abroad.
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Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, CBL, DL and Gareth Thomas MP are pleased to announce the establishment of the Zoroastrian All Party Parliamentary Group.
The event, hosted in the Members’ Dining Room of the House of Commons on Monday 14th October with the assistance of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE), was attended by over a hundred MPs, Peers and members of the international Zoroastrian community, including the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Dr Virander Paul, the Acting High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom.
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On Saturday 28th September, Lord Bilimoria unveiled the Parsi Faith Hill and Farohar at the Balaji Temple in Tividale, near Birmingham.
The Farohar is an ancient symbol of Zoroastrianism that was also widely used to represent the old Persian Empire, where Zoroastrianism served as the state religion. Today, the image is associated with that of a fravashi - somewhat approximating to a guardian angel in western etymology, although the origin of the symbol remains one of some scholarly debate.
Made out of Tata Steel – the founders of which are a prominent Parsi family – the Farohar will become a valuable resource for many generations to come.
For photographs of the day, as well as more details about the Balaji Temple – please visit the following link.
Lord Bilimoria was a keynote speaker at the launch of the Sirius Programme in Manchester on 4th September 2013.
Organised by UK Trade and Investment, the three-day Entrepreneur Festival brought together talented graduates from around the world to experience the benefits of starting their business in the United Kingdom.
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Lord Bilimoria was interviewed for the Financial Times’ “My First Million” column, which was published on Saturday 14th September, 2013.
The link to the article can be found here (subscription required.)
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has launched the Sirius Programme at a festival in Manchester.
The program, which aims to attract entrepreneurs and young businesspeople from around the world, is seen as a major initiative by the British Government to increase the scope and diversity of the British economy. Students and recent graduates with an early stage business plan will receive £12,000 investment, expert advice and help with the logistics of moving to the UK.
Lord Bilimoria, a key figure in the government drive, was interviewed on BBC Breakfast television about the scheme. He said, “I found this country’s environment fantastic, I saw the glass ceiling that existed absolutely shattered before my eyes. People don’t realise what a great country this is to do business.”
The video can be found here.
After visiting India with the Prime Minister, Lord Bilimoria was interviewed about immigration on BBC News’ HARDtalk program. In it, Karan spoke about how best to reform the present immigration system in Britain in a way that would limit illegal entry into the United Kingdom, whilst allowing the brightest and best to contribute to the economy and wider society.
A clip of the interview can be found here.