Humility, integrity, honesty and transparency are the hallmarks of Raman Ranchhod, decorated by the Queen with a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to the Indian Community in her New Year Honour List announced last fortnight.
Since his arrival from India 63 years ago, Mr Ranchhod has been a philanthropist with a deep commitment to community welfare. The Wellington Indian Association, which his late father Rama Ranchhod established with his peers, had the benefit of his services for several years. His commitment and support were central to the purchase of a community hall, now called, ‘Bharat Bhavan,’ a major venue for Indian festivals and programmes.
Over the years, he has helped scores of new and young migrants from India to resettle with emotional and financial support. Deeply religious, Mr Ranchhod has a sound knowledge of the rites and rituals. He has conducted several Hindu weddings in New Zealand. A Justice of the Peace, he makes his services available to everyone at all times.
The most outstanding attribute of Mr Ranchhod is the establishment of the Ranchhod Foundation in 2011, which works towards the betterment of humankind, undertaking charity work, and offering solace and comfort to those in need in New Zealand and India.
Through his guidance, the Foundation provides monetary assistance to medical organisations offering voluntary medical treatment, and opportunities in education, health and welfare to the disadvantaged.
The Foundation constructed the ‘Laduben Ranchhod Urban Hospital’ in Navsari, Gujarat, the birthplace of Mr Ranchhod. The Medical Centre provides several medical services free of cost to people in rural areas.
Among the other beneficiaries are the Starship Children’s Hospital, At Heart New Zealand, CBM Foundation of New Zealand, a rural hospital in Tanzania and a number of villages in India.
Commencing his working life when he was 16 years old as fruits and vegetables vendor in Wellington, Mr Ranchhod launched into car business 16 years later, and over the next 35 years expanded it to account for four dealerships with rental and finance divisions in the greater Wellington region.
He launched into property business with his son Mahesh (a graduate in Property). Success in the sector encouraged him to sell his car business and invest in properties across New Zealand and Australia.
He established the Ranchhod Group to manage various properties and businesses.
Business acumen, financial discipline and openness in dealings have enabled the Group to grow from strength to strength and with acquisitions and judicious management, it has generated employment for many and accrued profits. He has donated, and continues to donate, a substantial part of the profits produced by his businesses for reinvestment and charitable projects.
Lower Hutt resident Prabodh Mishra of Fijian origin was a diplomat serving his country’s Missions in London and Wellington. He is a recipient of Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) in the New Year Honours List.
Mr Mishra said that he was humbled by the honour since it recognises his services to the community in general and not to a specific community.
“We do not volunteer our service so that we can receive an award one day. I have been involved with a few organisations in the Community apart from our own Fijian Community and it is a nice feeling to be valued,” he said.
While a number of organisations have presented him with awards in the past (including the Paul Harris Award of Rotary International), he considers the QSM as ‘special,’ since it acknowledges voluntary service ‘across the board.’
Since migrating to New Zealand after the first military coup in Fiji in 1987, Mr Mishra was employed Human Resources Manager at the Education Ministry and later at Te Papa Tongarewa, Office of the New Zealand Police Commissioner and Te Kohanga Reo National Trust.
His other credentials include Trustee and President of the Rotary Club in Western Hutt, President and Advisor of the Fiji Indian Association in Wellington, and Member of the Ethnic Reference Group of the Families Commission (until last year). For three years he assisted the Wellington Regional Asian Health Alliance in Newtown and Lower Hutt, provided free training in Employment Law to new migrants, and educated them on tax matters.
Dr Mustafa Farouk
Hamilton based Dr Mustafa Farouk, who is a recipient of a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) said that the Award is recognition It is an honour I accept not for myself but for all those who are making it possible for us to contribute to this society. Community work is a collective responsibility,” he said.
Born and raised in Nigeria. Dr Farouk completed his PhD in USA in 1996, following which he launched his career at the Meat Industry Research Institute (now called AgResearch Limited) in 1996.
As well as serving the Waikato Muslim community, he is the Chairman, National Daawah at the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) and actively involved in Halal and market access issues for food and meat companies in the country.
Dr Farouk said that the Queen’s Award is also recognition of the Islamic community by the government and people of New Zealand.
“It is an encouragement for others, especially the youth to do community service. Our work is not beneficial to the Muslim community and the whole country. Our community is just the platform from where we launch our initiatives,” he said.