In this edition, we bring excerpts of our exclusive interview with Mr. Rajendra Vora.
A segment dedicated to decorated personalities of Indian origin and/or heritage who eventually moved to the foreign land to achieve their professional aspirations. Doing so, they became ‘foreigners’, for namesake to their motherland. In this segment, we wish to explore their journey from ‘Desh to Videsh’ and try to peek into their hearts as to where it beats.
Introduction (About Mr. Rajendra Vora) Mr Vora has been based in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles for the last 40 + years and is very actively involved in undertaking social initiatives to promote India and Jainism. He is the Founder and President ofJain Social Group Beverly Hills as well as the International Vice President of Jain Social Group International Federation. The Federation has 450+ chapters with a combined member strength of 65000+ globally. By qualification, Mr. Vora is a Mechanical Engineer from VJTI, Mumbai whojoined his family business – Spectacle Frame Manufacturing (with ofﬁces in Mumbai 81 Morbi). Before migrating to Los Angeles, Mr. Vora led an Export Promotion Delegation (consisting a team of 4 experts) representing Govt Of India in 7 different countries.
A successful businessman, MrVora is a great grandson of Jabakben (younger sister of Krupaludev Shrimad
Rajchandra who was also Mahatma Gandhi’s Jain Guru and was influential in taking Gandhiji on the path of non violence). Avery active JSGian, Mr Vora personally started NY, NJ, Toronto 8L Beverly Hills Chapters of JSG. He spreads the message of Jainism very effectively to the Western World. He is connected with and quite often interacts with the political leaders (including Presidents, PMs, Congressman, Elected Leaders and Mayors from across countries), Hollywood 81 Bollywood celebrities, and other Social and Religious Leaders. A true ambassador of India, Mr Vora has been bestowed with numerous awards and honours for his contribution from the various Cities, States and the US congress.
- Settling abroad isn’t easy. Do you believe that things are comparatively easier for people (rather
Indians) to settle in the USA, given so much has changed over years and access to information is
My answer is both Yes and a No. If you are educated and highly talented then chances are that the US
Companies will help and push for faster immigration in accordance with the current rules. For other
professionals, getting citizenship is not only tedious but also difﬁcult, given they have to seek respective
licenses for practice before they can be absorbed as immigrants. The quota system, high influx of
immigrants from various countries, and ever-changing rules makes it more difﬁcult. Hence, my advice would be to educate yourselves with tons of experience in an industry (preferably a fast-growing one say like an Electric Vehicle or Artificial Intelligence, etc) to name a few.
- Many Indians have migrated to the USA over the years to explore better career opportunities and
are very successful as professionals, businessmen, and otherwise. The overseas Indian community
has a considerable presence, influence and is very well connected among themselves but do you
think they equally feel connected to India? If so, how and why?
Yes absolutely, the overseas community including myself do feel connected to India. Most of the
immigrants I know or am in touch with, have migrated 25 + years back. All of them have worked very hard and had their fair share of struggles; and today they are very successful in their own respective fields. Their second generations (born in the US) are better off in terms of education, jobs, and in other economic and social parameters. Having stayed away from India, our bond with India has only grown over the years, which is even visible in our second generations, given their interest in Indian culture and participation in all our India related initiatives is increasing with each passing day. In fact, for Indians too, the US is an important market and hence, right from visits of celebrities, entertainers, religious & spiritual Gurus has onlyhelped in generating more interest and bringing us closer to India.
- We understand that you work closely with the business and social communities, according to you,
what are the existing challenges/issues (procedural or policy related, if any) faced by the Indian Diaspora in your country? How do you think the Indian Government can address and resolve these (if at all)?
Well the Government should seriously look into the procedural delays in VISAs. Currently, even the
appointment dates for the US VISAs are not opened until One may get an India Visa easily but then the travel industry has to buck—up and (with able support from the government) work to make things smooth and safer for the travellers.
The Government should help push the relevant sectors (hotels 8L hospitality, Food 8:Restaurants, Domestic Travel – air, train, road etc) facing challenges and is still trying to recover from the impact of
the Covid —19. The strict adherence to health, safety and hygiene guidelines issued from the Central/State/local Governments will help build more confidence among travellers and the citizens at large which in turn will help the travel industry.
- What are your thoughts about some of the Indian Government’s initiatives like the OCI programme? Do you think it has made things easier for the Indian Diaspora to feel and remain connected with their motherland?
I do believe that the OCI programme is definitely a very good step and has been welcomed by all here too. However, the procedural delays could be smoothened a bit, as the application itself is very time consuming. Yes, there has been effort to make relevant forms available online, but it hasn’t taken away the paperwork completely out of the system. One has to take prints of the duly filled form and submit all hard copies too within the 7 days which is cumbersome, given the embassy operates in weekdays only. Despite the hiccups, I feel the intent is right and hopefully with time these minor issues will be iron-out completely to make the process effective and hassle-free for the benefit of the residents. It has definitely helped increase travelling to India and I am sure it will only grow further in years to come.
- Your Organisation has played an active part in promoting India, its culture, and has brought a lot of Indians (who have settled abroad) together. The organization with a large membership spread across the globe does some fantastic work. Tell us more about your Organisation and how can one be part of it and be benefitted?
Our Jain Social Group Federation was formed in 1965 to spread the vision of “Walk Together, Talk Together and Act – With One Mind”. With an intent to promote and attain social and cultural objectives by spreading the feeling of friendship and brother-hood amongst all members, this organisation imparts the teachings of Lord Mahaveera and helps in building a healthy Socialist, Secular and Democratic society which is in the interest of the country. The organisation structure consists of different bodies, each holding its own unique position in the structure, but with one binding slogan “Bandautvasee Prem” that provides a forum for social interaction to 65000 + Members. They are spread in Africa, India. UK, Middle East, South East Asia, USA, Canada combining 450+ chapters.
RAPID FIRE QUESTION
Favourite Indian destination? — Mumbai
Favourite Indian Cuisine? — Vegetarian Gujarati
Favourite restaurant? – Bombay Palace in Beverly
Hills (US) 81 Copper Chimney in Mumbai (India)
The thing you miss the most about India? Family, Friends and even Neighbour’s
One word that comes to your mind when you
hear the word ‘lndia’? — Mother
How have you kept India alive in your family? — we
speak our mother tongue (Gujarati) at home, eat our
veg home food , host and attend cultural 8L religious
festivals, take pilgrimage and visit holy sites in India
quite regularly. This helps keep us connected to our
roots, culture and its values.|
Which Indian festival do you miss the most and
why? — Diwali, where every family member gathers
in a festive theme and eat together, get elderly
blessings, see lighting and smile on each & every
Any unfulfilled wish for India? – I still need to
travel to many Indian states where I have never