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Sudesh K. Aggarwal (Detailed Profile)

( Founder of Smast Bhartiya Party and Founding Chairman of UAE-based Giant Group )

Nationalist to the Core
Committed to play his part in bringing CHANGE in the Prevailing Conditions and Systems
Committed to the Community
founder

The Founder of Smast Bhartiya Party (Registered with Election Commission of India in Feb., 2009) is none other than Sudesh Aggarwal who after amassing considerable success as an entrepreneur has embarked on the mission of his life i.e. serving his motherland by engaging in active public and political life. He has always been committed to the community even while overseas and believes that pride of Indians lie in the pride of India. Today the country and the countrymen face many problems due to selfish, corrupt, inefficient and unprincipled political leadership with the result the prevailing conditions and systems in all fields are bad. He believes that Clean Politics and Good Governance is the need of the hour which is likely to set things right. That can only happen if people of good intent enter the political life leaving their drawing rooms. Sudesh Aggarwal has decided to play his part and he is an optimist to the core…………

In a short span of 5 years since the registration of the Party, he has contested two Lok Sabha elections i.e. in May, 2009 and a Bye Election in 2011 to gain electioneering knowledge and spread the name of the Party at the grass root level. Mr. Aggarwal is well known all over in the state of Haryana as a competent, knowledgeable and good intentioned person above selfish interests to bring CHANGE.

His detailed profile as was published in 2013 in a book titled "PACESETTERS 2" (Inspiring stories of Indians who made it big in the UAE) is reproduced below with few updates.

PROFILE

The man behind India Trade and Exhibition Centre (ITEC) in Sharjah and Indian Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), and one of the pioneers of Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), Sudesh K. Aggarwal’s contribution to the Indian community in the UAE is exemplary. He is a role model who stands out for his success as an entrepreneur as well as for rendering immense service to his compatriots, and for promoting UAE-India trade ties. He is now on the mission of his life i.e. serving his motherland by engaging in political activity. An optimist to the core...

COMMITTED TO THE COMMUNITY

He is one pioneering industrialist who is known and admired as much for establishing a business empire as for the services he renders for the members of the Indian community.

Sudesh K. Aggarwal, the Founding Chairman of the Sharjah-based Giant Reinforced Plastic (GRP) Industries, may have amassed considerable success as an entrepreneur but what has earned him an even greater respect of the Indian community is his pioneering initiatives for the community in the UAE.

The Ambala-born man, who has distinguished himself for his commitment to promoting India's economic interests on foreign shores, is counted as a leading light in the Indian expatriate business community in the UAE. This is reflected in Aggarwal’s able stewardship of the not-for-profit Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC).

The IBPC was established in the year 2001 to function as an umbrella organization for the Indian businessmen and professionals and affiliated associations, under the patronage of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Consulate General of India in Dubai.

Aggarwal has also played a stellar role in establishing the India Trade and Exhibition Centre (ITEC) in Sharjah, drawing fulsome praise from the community and the Indian government. Built on a 20,000 square feet plot, ITEC aims to promote trade and investment between India and the Middle East and North Africa regions. But it took some really painstaking efforts to set up ITEC: Aggarwal put in more than four years of dedicated efforts and arranged funds for the Centre, which was inaugurated in November 2010 by the then President of India, Smt. PratibhaDevisinghPatil, in the presence of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and the Ruler of Sharjah.

Also, as President of the Indian Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), Aggarwal has been able to create a consortium of business leaders which is expected to promote 'Brand India' - boosting investments between the two economies and offering facilities to Indian entrepreneurs looking to set up ventures abroad.

“We must work to strengthen relations between India and the UAE. These initiatives are our contribution to our society and our country, these are a part of our engagement towards serving the country in which we live and to which we belong,” says Aggarwal, who now stands on the threshold of the next stage of his life: seeking the betterment of his native land through a career in politics.

THE BACKGROUND

Coming back to his journey as an entrepreneur, Giant Reinforced Plastics was set up in the year 1989 for manufacturing specialized glass reinforced polyester enclosures and kiosks for the electrical industry. The rapid growth in the UAE’s industrial and construction sectors saw the company expanding across the Middle East and North Africa and diversifying into sectors such as real estate, travel and tourism, and manufacturing of home furnishings, to become an established player in the region.

Preceding this success, however, was a spate of setbacks for Aggarwal, whose determination only grew stronger with each failure as he was not the one to be cowed down by adversities. He had seen a dream. And he had to fulfill that dream. The rest (read struggle) was only one plot of the bigger story.

Hailing from a middle class Punjabi family, Aggarwal completed his schooling and undergraduate studies in Commerce in Patiala town, and then went on to gain a Masters in Business Administration from Himachal Pradesh University in the year 1971.

His father, a medical practitioner, and his homemaker mother had struggled to raise their five sons and two daughters, something that made the young Aggarwal realize early that "poverty is the worst curse on a human being and that economic strength is vital for one’s independent thought and action".

And, this realization only reinforced his resolve to work hard and make money.

MOVING TO THE GULF

Aggarwal's first job was a brief teaching stint. But hesoon realized he was not cut out for this profession. So he joined Roadmaster Industries in Rajpura in India, working there for around two years as a Production Planning Officer. He quit this job as well.

What followed next was a short, 20-minute flight to Kabul, the Afghan capital, from Amritsar, with a close friend. He was 23 and headed to Iran during the times of the Shah’s regime.

"I was seeking greener pastures and in those days; the Arabian Gulf countries were the top destinations for well-paying jobs. I decided to take the plunge and with just US$300 in my pocket, I headed overseas without a job offer in hand, and without even knowing anybody! We traversed difficult terrains across Afghanistan and Iran and finally landed in Kuwait," he recalls.

"The early days in Kuwait were tough," admits Aggarwal, who had to take up a part-time teaching job until he landed an accountant's assignment for KD70 a month. Unable to stand the hardships, his friend returned to India. But Aggarwal was determined to make things work and stayed on, finding an opening as a management consultant with Talal Abu Ghazaleh&Co, an associate of accounting firm Price Waterhouse. A few months later, he was transferred to the UAE.

Once in the UAE, restlessness set in again. “I wanted to head ‘northwards’ but was sitting in a ‘southbound’ train. I wanted to become a businessman, an industrialist,” he says.

Thereafter, using four years of savings from his ‘handsome’ monthly AED5000 salary, he put in his papers and launched Aikah Enterprises, a trading company, in partnership with Dubai-based Mohammed TayyebKhoory.

THE UAE VENTURE

However, as it turned out, the venture proved a fiasco. Aggarwal lost heavily; the partnership collapsed. To recoup the losses, he joined National Investment Company (NIC) – a Sharjah business group that owns the Liberty chain of auto showrooms – as a director, in 1984. Here, he was dispatched to their loss-making fibreglass and composites subsidiary, International Heated Forms Company, as a financial director, with a brief to turn the unit around.

Over the next four years, that’s what he did with an exemplary finesse. He put the NIC unit back on its feet and was elevated to the post of its Managing Director. Once back to regaining his footing, the first thing he did was to repay the debt that he had incurred on the failed business front. However, political circumstances led to the company’s subsequent closure. Undeterred, Aggarwal bought it with the end-of-employment gratuity of AED70,000 and re-registered it as GRP Industries in 1989.

Since then, the business has grown manifold, even though Aggarwal plays down his efforts as a businessman, claiming he has not fully exploit his talent and capabilities because he feared that getting more involved with the enterprise would leave him with less time to pursue his mission of serving the motherland.

A keen golfer, Aggarwal chairs the Indian Golfers Society UAE, which he formed to act as an effective networking platform for its 140 odd high net worth members. This helped him raise more than AED250,000 to be directly disbursed through the Indian Military Command to the families of the Indian soldiers killed in the Kargil conflict of 1999.

With all these achievements under his belt, Aggarwal has now set his sights on the Indian political landscape with the launch of Smast Bhartiya Party (SBP), which translates into English as 'All Indians Party' and is also the National Convener of Indian Democratic Front, a nationwide consortium of political parties, to bring change in Indian politics and system.

PUSHING FOR CHANGE

But why jump into the murky world of politics at this juncture of his high-achieving career and with a luxurious lifestyle, one might ask. He currently lives in Dubai’s posh locality of Emirates Hills and owns a fleet of cars including a Rolls Royce and a Ferrari.

"Politics has been a childhood passion with me," he explains." I always wished that if God gave me an opportunity to serve my country, I would devote my time and capabilities for my nation. That has been my philosophy. There are many to contribute money but very few who are willing to devote their time and capability. I decided not to wait until retirement, but to give my active life to my nation.

The prevailing conditions in the country have reinforced my determination. Where is the current state of politics leading us towards? Politics determines the direction and fate of a nation; good politics will lead to good things, but bad people in politics will harm the country. Unfortunately, the character of politicians has deteriorated and good people are shunning public life.

"The biggest problem is the failure of governance. If clean and efficient people enter public life, the administration will improve and the conditions will get better across the board. But, to achieve this, we need to change the political culture itself. We need to build the character of our leadership. This is where we have failed," he points out.

Change, therefore, is the SBP’s slogan for the next elections, and Aggarwal hopes to push for change. But, wouldn't his mission be more successful if he joined an existing political party? He firmly says 'NO' because he feels that the problems facing the country owe to these parties only. “That is the short cut route for fulfilling selfish interests through politics," he points out.

FLOATING NEW PARTY

Besides, Aggarwal isn't impressed with any of the existing political outfits. “If the current lot of parties were good and effective, then there would have been no need for me to embark on this journey. They (parties) have failed and a new political party is very much the need of the hour. “Joining an existing political party would have allowed me to serve my selfish interests but not to achieve anything for my country. I would have been guided by the policies of these parties, and if their politics is corrupt, how would I be able to change their culture by joining them?" he asks.

So, this stand of his has led Aggarwal into the difficult terrain of building a party from the scratch, with no political background or support and returning to the country after 35 years.

"When you enter a field where nobody knows you; people doubt your integrity; they suspect your intentions behind returning back from abroad; they doubt the sincerity of your actions. It is the most difficult journey that I have embarked upon," he admits.

In fact, it is a journey that began with the launch of the All Indians Foundation in 2003, a trust registered in New Delhi. Its agenda was to raise a grassroots movement to demand better administrative performance and accountability towards the goal of making India a “developed and well-regulated nation”.

The political party followed in 2008with Aggarwal as its founder and national president.

Isn’t he being a bit naive about his political prospects? “I am a committed, principled person. If I embark on a path, I will not deviate from it. Besides, being forthright in politics plays a big role in your success. People have lost faith in the political leadership. You can revive this by demonstrating your character. I have succeeded to a great deal already. If you stick to your path with devotion, people will believe you,” he insists.

Would he not have served people better through a charitable cause? “Engaging in political life is the biggest social service because politics governs the nation and if politics is right, then everything will be right. You may derive satisfaction from building a hospital or a home for the aged or educating a girl child or getting an orphan girl married etc., but this cannot be compared to the macro level benefits you can accrue to people through politics. I am not criticizing the charitable missions but the journey I am on is a wider one.”

Aggarwal is financing his political party from his own pockets. Does he not feel he is squandering away hard earned money on a futile pursuit? He replies: “First, I have to demonstrate my commitment, resources, time and ability to serve the people.

"Second, India is my motherland and I’m proud of it. When the country is in the dumps, it is the people who have to work to move it upwards. My pride is linked with the pride of my country. If my country prospers, then my pride goes up."

GROUNDWORK FOR NEXT STAGE

He adds: "When you spend half a million to buy a new car or ten million on a diamond necklace for your wife or daughter-in-law, do you grumble? No! Because you are the beneficiary; you are the one driving that car. "Unfortunately, people don’t think the same about their country: that they ought to be investing in building their country and that they would ultimately be the beneficiaries of this investment. People want and expect everything from the nation. But they hesitate when it comes to giving anything in return,” he iterates.

"I am often cautioned that politics is not for educated, honest people. I don’t subscribe to this viewpoint. Until you try, until you get involved, there can be no change. That is why we have launched the party."

So, what are his party’s main planks? "It’s to build a neo-political leadership; review the systems to bring good and efficient governance; check corruption; all round development; and raise the income levels of all sections of the society, in particular the lower strata," he quips.

His party, the SBP rolled out its initial program from Haryana’s Rewari district, enrolling members, building public centers, upgrading educational training institutes, and holding welfare camps and political meetings to mobilise support. The party has also contested parliamentary, state legislature and panchayat elections and is eyeing to be in government in Haryana in the 2014 elections. A new party headquarters building and district level offices are on the anvil. The SBP is also reaching out to voters in the northern states of Delhi, Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Neelam, who Aggarwal married in 1980, and his sons, Suneel and Sumeet, support his political ambitions. His wife is the party’s state president in Haryana and looks after the social wing of the Foundation.

"Neelam walks shoulder to shoulder with me and assumes full responsibility," he says.

Suneel completed his MBA from Georgetown University in Washington DC in May 2007 and manages the business, while Sumeet manages an events management company of the Group.

Aggarwal clocks in at least 10 to 12 hours of work daily, most of which is on political work. He reads a lot, writes on current issues and spends time fine tuning his party’s policy. He travels to India at least once a month, spending about five months in a year there. However, he plans to relocate back to India permanently in future.

'It's important to try'

Looking back, how does he see his success so far? "I never imagined I would achieve so much. I did not even aim for this kind of success. But I worked hard to get here. There is no substitute for hard work. That is the only way to progress in life. Work with a focused mind and the rest will follow," he philosophizes.

Ultimately, the ambition of serving the country is what keeps him going in life. "My commitment to my country has been consistent and will remain so. I don't regret venturing onto the public stage.

"As I walk into the sunset of my life, I'd like to complete two things though. The first, of course, is the political engagement that I have embarked on. The second would be to work for creating an organization to bring temples across the country under its management. I do not think I will return to commercial activity. Beyond a particular point in life, money loses its allure and may even cause problems.

"Nor do I fear failure in my political career because it is not success that I am essentially seeking. I have been successful in every single thing I have embarked on. I want to serve India. I want to and will give everything to my nation. This is the last stage of my career.

"If we are successful, that would be the greatest achievement. If we fail, there will be no regrets. But, when I bow out of this world, what matters is that I will at least have the singular satisfaction of having tried," he says.

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