Cover Story : Rami Ranger


Sun Mark Ltd’s Rami Ranger speaks after receiving the Queens Award for Enterprise, International Trade 2009 from Queen Elizabeth

Rami Ranger lost his father to the madness of Partition but no person has worked harder than this successful businessman to bridge the communal divide in Britain. His achievements span the social, business and political landscape
By Rakesh Krishnan Simha

Interview with Rami Ranger

There is a part of Rami Ranger that misses his father every day. In 1947, shortly before Ranger was born, his father Nanak Singh was murdered by Muslim fanatics in Multan while trying to offer protection to 600 schoolchildren who had taken out a procession protesting against the break-up of India. Nanak Singh was a visionary who warned against the break-up of India on the basis of religion. He used to say, “India’s unity is like the colours of a rainbow. If one were removed, its charm and beauty would be diminished." He advocated that we must all consider ourselves to be Indians first and then choose to follow the religion of our choice. 

Had Nanak Singh been alive, he'd only have been very proud of his son, a self-made man in charge of himself. Ranger, the chairman of Sun Mark Ltd and Sea Air & Land Forwarding, two of Britain's fastest growing companies with a combined turnover of over £60 million, received the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement 1999 and the Queens Award for Enterprise 2009 respectively.

What’s creditable about such growth is that Ranger is comparatively new to the UK. After graduating from Punjab University in 1971 her arrived in the UK where he initially worked in the fast food industry. It was in 1987 that he started his company Sea Air and Land from a shed with a capital of just £2. Three years later he started Sun Oil. The new company that Ranger started soon earned tremendous goodwill among its international customers.

Dr Rami Ranger, FRSA, receiving the MBE (Member of British Empire) for services to British business and the British Asian community from the Prince of Wales. Dr Ranger, chairman of Sea Air and Land Forwarding receiving the Queens Award for export achievement 1999 from the Queen’s Special Representative Field Marshall John Chapple

Indeed, Ranger, MBE, FRSA, is a rare example of someone who from humble beginnings has achieved so much in business, politics and society. He is the founder member of the Hindu Forum Britain that was set up to unite all the different Hindu organisations in Britain under one umbrella so they could project a cohesive voice in British government departments. He was the first to organise a prestigious Hindu Ball in London to celebrate Indian culture and its contribution in enriching British society. The ball helped the local population understand about India and Hinduism.

Besides running his hugely successful businesses, Ranger is also involved in a host of social and political activities. He is the general secretary of the British Asian Conservative Link and director general of the Parliamentary Friends of India. A staunch proponent of Asian participation in public life, Ranger has made spectacular contribution to the uplift of Asians in the UK. In fact, Ranger's multi-faceted personality helped him assume responsibilities of various philanthropic bodies. 

"Ranger’s honesty extends to his business. He is learnt to have once said: “Our business philosophy is—We don’t succeed if our customers do not succeed”

Ranger is the chairman of the British Sikh Association that promotes interfaith dialogue. This was set up to stop the extremist Sikh organisations from representing the Sikh point of view in Britain. He has vigorously argued with these extremist organisations that the Sikh religion was formed to defend the unity and integrity of India and not to break her up. When Sikh Gurus never claimed a separate kingdom for themselves, then why should his followers have to demand a kingdom for themselves? Ranger as a patron of the India Association helped raise £100,000 for research on AIDS and cancer for the Northwick Park and St. Marks Hospitals in Harrow.

Ranger set up the British Asian Conservative Link to make Asians more publicly and politically spirited and to encourage them to take part in the decision marking process. Due to his efforts, the Conservative Party, which previously had no Asian representation, has now started giving Asians safer seats in Parliamentary elections. While currently there’s one MP of Asian origin, in the next election there will be at least three or more British Asian members of Parliament.

As a patron of the Shaheed Nanak Singh Foundation, he is working to encourage British Indians to become more public and politically spirited. Ranger set up the foundation in memory of his illustrious father by pledging £1 million. It honours those who honour India by dedicating their lives for India's unity and integrity. The foundation will lobby hard in the right quarters to get due representation of Indians in government departments as advisors, non-executive chairmen, head of Quangos and in the foreign service. It will encourage Indians to come forward and be more publicly and politically spirited in order to improve social cohesion in Britain.

Despite that fact his father was a victim of Partition, Ranger has built strong bonds with people of Pakistani origin in the UK. Soon after the 2007 bombings of the London Underground by British Pakistanis, he realised there was an urgent need to reach out to the Muslim community which was feeling isolated and dejected. He realised that Britain cannot move forward by leaving any section of its population behind. He recruited prominent Pakistanis in Britain and launched the Pakistan, India & UK Friendship Forum. The forum proved to be an instant success and thousands of Pakistanis and Indians are now celebrating what unites them in Britain.

Over the years, Ranger has been conferred a slew of awards and recognitions, including the Asian Business Award by Asian Voice Newspaper; a doctorate by Preston University in Wyoming, US; the Indian Association’s Award for Community Service by Mrs Sarah Brown, wife of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown; and Pride of India Award by the Punjabi Society of British Isles.

Ranger is a member of the Memorial Gates Commemoration Committee which keeps the memory of the fallen soldiers of the Commonwealth alive. He is a patron of the India International Foundation which celebrates success of Indians in Britain. 

He is also the patron of the Ethnic Minority Business Group supporting ethnic businesses in Britain; vice-president of the Punjabi Society of the British Isles promoting Punjabi culture in Britain; joint secretary of the Friends Circle International promoting social cohesion in Britain with chapters worldwide; chairman of the British Sikh Association promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding.
Most people would be happy to fill just one of the shoes Ranger wears. So how does he manage to run a business empire and contribute time, energy and resources for a diverse range of activities that benefit people?

In order to excel there must be a dynamic force, and what force could be more potent than unwavering dedication to one's work? Sure, it's precisely this attribute that has made Ranger one of the most enterprising NRI entrepreneurs in the UK. 

But more than anything it's his integrity that has found him many an admirer. Not surprisingly, his honesty extends to his business. He is learnt to have once said: "Our business philosophy is—We don't succeed if our customers do not succeed." And true to his words, he has always strived to keep his customers happy and assured when it comes to quality and timely delivery of goods and services.




What makes Rami Ranger tick? How does he run a business empire and yet find time to head a slew of charities and organisations? In an interview with INDIA EMPIRE’s Consulting Editor Rakesh Krishnan Simha, Ranger speaks on a range of issues that are dear to his heart:

Generally Pakistanis are very unfriendly towards India, to put it mildly. But you have welcomed them with open arms and launched the Pakistan, India & UK Friendship Forum. Why?
Pakistanis and Indians have been living in Britain side by side for many decades. They have become British citizens. To some degree they have also become interdependent on one another. We have Indian doctors, teachers and social workers looking after Pakistani patients, students and elderly people and so on and vice versa and as a result we have become more tolerant than those who are living in India and Pakistan. I feel Britain is the best place to start friendship such an initiative as people are fed up with conflicts that have dogged both the countries for over six decades.

It is said that people who experienced the trauma of Partition are quite tolerant, whereas today’s generation is more fanatic? Is there a reason for such contrasting behaviour?
You are right, these people once lived side by side for centuries. They have a common heritage—language, food, history. People on either side of the border would like to visit their religious shrines, their places of births and ancestral homes to revive old memories.

Is there a danger of immigrants in the UK facing a backlash as terrorism grows in West Asia.
Indeed, there is always a limit to what host countries can tolerate. If they feel immigrants have become liabilities instead of assets, then understandably, they will take drastic measures to protect their way of life. Those who look back cannot look forward. We must not damage the society where we live and where our future generations will live.

Is South Asian unity on the lines of the EU possible?
Nothing is impossible. Who could think a German citizen could live and work in Britain freely. Economic union is a prerequisite for peace in the South Asia. As they say, “when we start trading goods, we stop trading bullets".

You have many investments in the UK. Do you plan to invest in India?
Yes, these days many Indians and non-Indians consider investment in India is important for the future. Where developed economies will contract for the foreseeable future, India’s economy will boom. India is a secular and democratic country and as a result it is a stable and safe place to do business in. Moreover, English is widely spoken and people are friendly. One could live and work in India. Business conditions are rapidly improving. Transport, IT, banking, skilled labour etc are all there in India. India is well connected with the rest of the world.

Do you do any charity work in India?
Yes, I support education and water programmes in the villages of West Bengal. We also provided medical and x-ray equipment to hospitals in Gujarat after the earthquake.

You are the chairman or member of so many voluntary associations. Where do you find the time to do justice to your commitments?
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” Similarly, we must give back to society from where we take so much. If we do not do something, then no supernatural power will come down to help us. We have borrowed this planet from our future generations so we must leave it in a better shape so that one day they are proud of us as we are of our leaders who gave us this civil society.

June 2009

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