2017 has been a momentous year for the Loomba Foundation as we celebrated our 20th Anniversary 1997‐2017. We completed the empowerment project for 5,000 widows in Varanasi, which was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 22 January 2016 in Varanasi.
During the year we continued empowering widows, educating children of poor widows and fundraising events both in the UK and India.
We have trained all 5,000 widows and distributed 1,244 sewing machines on 15 February 2018.
The Loomba Foundation has completed the empowerment of 500 widows in Mathura. We expect to complete the programme of a further 2,000 widows this year.
Rotary India Literacy Mission (RILM)
The Loomba Foundation launched a partnership project with RILM to provide skills training to 30,000 impoverished widows, 1,000 in each of the 30 states in India and educate 2,000 children of poor widows.
The Loomba Foundation continued the advocacy initiatives in India during the year. We have written to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and the Supreme Court of India recommending three proposals.
- Firstly, the government of India should set up a National Commission for Widows.
- Secondly, they should set up widows’ help centres in every panchayat in India.
- Thirdly, Indian widows should be included in minority groups, in the same way as Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes and get the same benefits, including reservations in government jobs.
After a long and tireless campaign by Lord Loomba, the government of Haryana has promised to open a special cell to help widows in the state of Haryana, on 27 November 2017.
15 February 2018, Varanasi, India: Completion of the project to empower 5,000 widows
The Loomba Foundation, a United Nations-accredited global charity, distributed 1,244 sewing machines to widows in Varanasi on 15 February 2018. This last phase completed the empowerment project for 5,000 widows, after receiving training in tailoring for a period of two months. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi had launched the project for the Loomba Foundation in 2016.
The event took place at the famous Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and was attended by Hon’ble Shri Ram Charitra Nishad, Member of Parliament as the Chief Guest and other dignitaries including Mrs Mridula Jaiswal, the Mayor of Varanasi, Mr Hansraj Vishwakarma, BJP District President of Varanasi and Mr J K Sinha, Founder and Chairman of Shoshit Seva Sangh in Patna. The 1,244 beneficiaries who received the sewing machines were present at the event.
The Varanasi scheme has been the largest empowerment project undertaken by the Loomba Foundation, successfully training 5,000 widows, who have received a foot-operated Singer sewing machine free of charge from the charity. The Foundation is confident that it will provide an opportunity to these 5,000 unfortunate widows to earn money, educate their children and lead a life of dignity. 1,244 beneficiaries attended at the Benaras Hindu University to collect their foot-operated sewing machines after the completion of their training
9-10 February 2018, New Delhi, India: One Globe Conference 2018
The seventh edition of the One Globe Forum took place on 9 and 10 February 2018 which saw immense participation and contribution from Lord Loomba, Founder and Chairman Trustee, The Loomba Foundation. On 9 February, Lord Loomba, being on the Advisory Board of the OneGlobe Forum, was a part of the Inaugural Session with Ministers and other dignitaries. As part of the Inaugural Session, Lord Loomba was involved in the lighting of the lamp and gave a ‘Vote of Thanks’ speech at the Inauguration. On 10 February Lord Loomba participated in the panel discussion “Liberté, Egalité,Fraternité” Redux: Inclusive Growth. The panel discussion focused on inclusive growth. His co-panelists included Rachit Ranjan, Head of Policy, North India & Federal Affairs, Uber; Shri Raghav Chandra, Secretary, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Government of India, and Dr. Shailaja Fennell, Director of Research at Cambridge Central Asia Forum, Lecturer in Development Studies and Fellow of Jesus College at the University of Cambridge.
9 January 2018, New Delhi, India: PIO Parliamentarian Conference 2018
Lord Loomba CBE and distinguished UK Parliamentarians participated in the first PIO Parliamentarian Conference in India on 9 January 2018. Lord Loomba was invited by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and the Minister for External Affairs Shrimati Sushma Swaraj, as one of the distinguished Parliamentarians from the UK to participate in the first Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Parliamentary Conference. The distinguished Lords and MPs participating from the UK included Lords Navnit Dholakia, Raj Loomba, Karan Bilimoria, Amir Bhatia, Diljit Singh Rana, Dolar Popat, Mohamed Sheikh, Kamlesh Patel, Rambir Singh Suri, Shri Bhagwanji Chohan and Baronesses Usha Prashar and Sandip Verma. The Hon’ble MPs from the House of Commons were Priti Patel, Seema Malhotra, Virendra Sharma and Keith Vaz. The prestigious event celebrated the annual Pravasi Bhartiya Divas ‘day of the diaspora’, which historically honours the contribution made by men and women of Indian heritage towards their homeland. The event is marked on 9 January every year, the date of the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in 1915 to lead the Indian freedom movement.
Since its inception in 2003, this has become one of the most eagerly anticipated annual events for distinguished people of Indian origin living abroad, but this is the first time a Parliamentary conference has been held to formally celebrate and focus on the achievements of PIO Parliamentarians far and wide.The conference was officially opened by the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj MP, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the keynote speech. Other speakers included Shashi Tharoor MP and Priti Patel MP, who spoke on behalf of the UK delegation. The conference also signifies Prime Minister Modi’s new diplomatic strategy, which places fresh importance on the positive role of the diaspora in India. This is a significant step, as NRIs are in fact the “natural resource of India” whose collective potential should be channelled for the good of all Indians. There are over 31 million people of Indian origin living outside India, across 102 countries. Their presence is robust and far-reaching, as is their impressive record in contributing to many aspects of political, intellectual and cultural life in the countries they call home. Recognising these achievements, Mr Modi aims through a variety of initiatives to strengthen ties with the diaspora, deepen mutual understanding and build a strong future for the community as a whole.
In his welcome message, Prime Minister Modi said: “India is among the select few countries in the world that has an extensive series of programmes aimed at the diaspora. I am confident this historic event will provide a unique platform for mutual collaboration between India, PIO Parliamentarians and help strengthen the engagement of India and her diaspora.”
Lord Loomba told the Indian press: “What we heard from the Prime Minister today is absolutely right. Within the last three years, India has transformed. India has also brought in a lot of respect to the Diasporas overseas. I also applaud the Prime Minister and the ministry of external affairs for taking on this grand initiative to bring together 140 distinguished Parliamentarians from 25 countries for a Conference. All of us are taking back the positive messages from the government, and this would not have been possible without this Conference.” Lord Loomba CBE met up with the Hon’bleMinister of External Affairs Shrimati Sushma Swaraj after the Conference sessions in NRI Kendra, New Delhi.
Priti Patel MP, who spoke on behalf of the UK delegation, said: “The achievements of the Indian diaspora all over the world have been transformational. It is a matter of great pride that the UK is home to such a talented and ambitious diaspora of 1.5 million people. As PIO Parliamentarians, we want to bring our experience to set a new agenda, strengthen our bonds to create a bright and prosperous future.”
8 December 2017, House of Lords, London: Celebrating Indo-UK Year of Culture with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
The Loomba Foundation, in association with the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the leading Indian arts and cultural institute in the UK, celebrated the Indo-UK Year of Culture at the Cholmondaley Room and Terrace at the House of Lords on Friday 8 December. His Excellency Mr Y K Sinha, Indian High Commissioner, felicitated Mr Joginder Sangar with a memento, to recognise his efforts to promote Indian culture in the UK since 1972.
Many eminent people from the British and Indian communities, including Mr G.P. Hinduja, Loomba Foundation Trustees Shiraz and Shamin Lalji, and Dr Barry Humpreys, Patrons Graham Tobell, Susan Tobell and Rami Ranger were present at the dinner. The evening saw a cultural programme organised by Nand Kumar, Executive Director of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. There was a traditional Bharatanatyam dance 'Tillana' – a technical item of rhythmic movements, and a fusion contemporary recital 'Sangam' composed by Maestro Mandolin Srinivas.
22 November 2017, The Attlee Room, House of Lords, London: Barnardos Charity Lunch
The Loomba Foundation sponsored a philanthropy lunch, hosted on the day by the Earl of Listowel in the Attlee Room. The high-level cultivation event built on previous successful major donor events held with Lord Loomba over the past three years. The aim was to engage new top-tier prospects with the capacity to give at a major donor level. The event was a huge success and was attended by Safdar Shah from the Loomba Foundation, and around 30 distinguished guests from Barnardos. Lord Loomba is the Vice President of the organisation.
11 October 2017, The Attlee Room, House of Lords, London: Dinner for Brightsun
The Loomba Foundation sponsored a dinner to thank Brightsun Travel for supporting The Loomba Foundation’s partnership project with Rotary India Literacy Mission to provide skills training to 30,000 disadvantaged widows in India, and educational support to 2,000 of their children.
12 October 2017, Smeaton Room, One Great George Street, London: Special BBC recording of HARDtalk with Jane Fonda to mark the programme’s 20th anniversary
Lord Loomba was invited to a special 20th anniversary recording of BBC World News’ flagship current affairs interview programme, HARDtalk, with award-winning actress and political campaigner, JaneFonda. The interview by presenter Stephen Sackur highlighted many issues which are close to Jane Fonda’s heart – especially that of sexual harassment of innocent women by powerful people in Hollywood, politics and sports. After the interview, Lord Loomba was able to ask Jane Fonda on how she can help widows, after briefly sharing the plight of widows around the world especially in the rural areas of developing countries in South Asia and across Africa. Lord Loomba was impressed and encouraged that Jane responded positively to his question and asked him to give her a Visiting Card as she would like to help unfortunate widows. After Jane’s interview, Lord Loomba also discussed the issue of widows with Stephen Sackur, who promised to look into the matter as there are over 259 million widows and their children around the world, who suffer in silence. The Loomba Foundation is sure that Stephen’s support to highlight this issue on BBC World News would go a long way to support and spread awareness about the unfortunate widows globally. This was followed by a drinks reception hosted by Francesca Unsworth, Director of BBC World Service Group and with presenter Stephen Sackur and the programme team.
22-23 June 2017, Old Yard Place, London: Celebrating International Widows Day and the Loomba Foundation’s 20th Anniversary
This has been the 20th Anniversary of the Loomba Foundation, and while we celebrated it with gala charity dinners in London and India, we have stayed focussed on India, and have been very happy with the outcome. On the day before this year’s International Widows Day, on 22 June, the charity organised an event at the Old Palace Yard, opposite to the House of Lords, where the famous actress Miss Joanna Lumley, a Patron of the Loomba Foundation, launched a blimp, together with the President of the charity, Mrs. Cherie Blair CBE QC. The event was attended by Lord and Lady Loomba along with many patrons and supporters of the charity. The following evening, Lord and Lady Loomba together with their family hosted the Loomba Foundation’s Annual Gala Dinner at the Dorchester in London. Presided over by the Foundation’s President, Mrs. Cherie Blair, the event was attended by Chief Guest, His Excellency Shri Y.K. Sinha, High Commissioner for India, Guest of Honour, Shri G.P. Hinduja, Co-Chairman of Hinduja Group and Special Guests, First Lady of Rwanda, Mrs Jeannette Kagame, Chairman of Rotary International Foundation Shri Kalyan Banerjee and the British Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Rt. Hon. Lord Ahmad.
Attended by over 300 high profile guests, including Parliamentarians, Trustees, Patrons and Supporters, the event was an opportunity to raise vital funds for the work of the Loomba Foundation as well as highlight the work the charity has done to educate children of poor widows and empower their mothers in India and around the world. The High Commissioner of India HE Shri Y.K. Sinha spoke about the important work that the charity and the Indian government are doing to help impoverished widows across the country. At the Dorchester Gala Dinner, the Loomba Foundation signed an agreement with the Rotary India Literacy Mission to provide skills training to 30,000 impoverished widows – 1,000 widows in each of the 30 states in India – and educate 2,000 children of poor widows. The agreement was signed by our President, Mrs. Cherie Blair CBE QC, and Rotarian Shri Kalyan Banerjee, Chairman of Rotary International Foundation. The project will run over the next five years and cost approximately £2 million. Training will be provided in Beauty & Wellness, Healthcare & Care Giving, Security Industry, Telecoms, Tourism & Hospitality, Handicraft, Textile & Apparel, Agriculture and Food Processing, and Automotive Industry.
29 November 2017, Taj Lands End Bandra, Mumbai: Gala Dinner to celebrate the Loomba Foundation’s 20th Anniversary
The Loomba Foundation hosted a charity gala dinner at the Taj Lands End in Bandra on 29 November. Mrs. Cherie Blair CBE QC, Former First Lady of UK and President of The Loomba Foundation, graced the gala dinner as the Guest of Honour. Lord Raj Loomba CBE, Founder and Chairman Trustee of the Loomba Foundation, and Lady Loomba, Trustee of The Loomba Foundation, attended this charity gala. Mr. Ashish Chauhan, MD and Chairman, Bombay Stock Exchange, Mr. Gopichand P Hinduja, Hinduja Group, were among the dignitaries attending the Gala Dinner in Mumbai.
29 November 2017, Hyderabad, Telangana: Global Entrepreneur Summit 2017
Lord and Lady Loomba, along with Mrs Cherie Blair, met the Advisor to the President of United States, Ivanka Trump, on the second day of the Global Entrepreneur Summit 2017, in Hyderabad. The event highlighted the theme Women First, Prosperity for All, and focussed on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally. It was well attended, with President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump heading the United States delegation to the Summit. Our President Cherie Blair started the second day with an interesting panel discussion titled, ‘We can do it! Innovations in workforce development and skills training’. The panellists on the discussion were Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank, and Cherie Blair. The session was moderated by Karen Quintos of Dell. Lord Loomba and Cherie Blair met Ivanka after the event and briefly discussed the work done by the Loomba Foundation across twelve countries, and the Foundation’s focus on the 46 million widows in India, the largest number in any country in the world. Ivanka took a keen interest and was presented with the World Widows Report – a unique, complete, country by country, regional and global quantitative breakdown of data about widows, produced by the Loomba Foundation.
27 November 2017, The Leela Ambience, Gurugram: Charity Gala Dinner to celebrate the Loomba Foundation’s 20th Anniversary
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, in a bid to provide better facilities and security to widows, announced that the Haryana State Commission for Women (HSCW) will have a separate department for widows to facilitate resolving their issues as a priority and ensuring that the problems do not recur. Mr Khattar while speaking as the Chief Guest at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Loomba Foundation in a hotel in Gurugram said that a separate cell for widows will strengthen the functioning of the organisation, adding: “Around 6 lakh widows in Haryana get Rs 1,600 per month as pension. Among all states in the country, this is the highest amount widows get as pension. Widows in Haryana are also given as assistance of Rs 700 per month for educating up to two children below 21years of age.” He announced that the monthly pension for widows will be increased from Rs 1600 to Rs 1800 from 1 January 2018 and to Rs 2,000 by 2019. Besides this, extra 5% marks will be added to the entrance exams score of widow applicants for government jobs. The decision was made in the last cabinet meeting on 21 November. The leverage will be given in government jobs, in which recruitment will be made by the Haryana Staff Selection Commission. From 1 November, the state government has enhanced the pension of widows of World War Two veterans from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 per month. Nearly 5,000 widows will benefit from this.
Welcoming the guests at the event, Mrs. Cherie Blair CBE QC, UK’s former First Lady and President of the Loomba Foundation, said, “As the Loomba Foundation completes 20 years, we would like to take this opportunity to commemorate all the work that has been put in with utmost dedication and perseverance to help better the lives of widows and their children.” Lord Raj Loomba, Founder & Chairman Trustee of The Loomba Foundation thanked Sairam Iyer for his performance and said, “As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Loomba Foundation, I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Rotary India Literacy Mission for partnering with us and lending us a big hand in improving the conditions of widows and their children in society.”
The other dignitaries who attended this event include Mr. Balbir Singh Kakar, Mrs. Veenita Kakar, Mr. Ashish Chauhan, MD and Chairman, Bombay Stock Exchange, Mr. Gopichand P Hinduja, Hinduja Group, Mr. Ashok P Hinduja, Hinduja Group, Mr. Gul Hinduja, Hinduja Group, Mrs. Kanta Hinduja, wife of Mr. Gul Hinduja, Brig. Hari Chukerbuti (Retd.), Hinduja Foundation, Mr. Kalyan Banerjee, Past President, Rotary International Foundation, Mr. Minyraj Modi, Chairman, Gyan Ganga Institute of Technology and Management, Bhopal, Ms. Salma Agha, Bollywood Actress.
8 September 2017, Attlee Room, House Of Lords: AMAR – APPG on the Prevention of Sexual Violence
Lord Loomba hosted a dinner in the Attlee Room to support Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Chairman, AMAR ICF and the Committee that urges the UK government to redouble its efforts to prevent sexual violence in war conflict areas. The inaugural All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative was headed by Baroness Nicholson and the speakers included the Hon Diar Yousif, Prince of Yazidis, The Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN and the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict. Lord Loomba strongly supported the initiatives taken by the Sexual Violence in Conflict Committee that published the research report Sexual Violence in Conflict: A War Crime, in which it calls on the Government to set out ambitious policy goals for reducing conflict-related sexual violence to ensure the international momentum created by the Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) is not lost. Lord Loomba was not able to attend this event, but plans to be a part of other initiatives and events organised by AMAR.
23 June 2018: International Widows Day celebration at Vijyan Bhavan in New Delhi.
25 June 2018: Reception at the River Room for 80 supporters of the Loomba Foundation, with the courtesy of Rt. Hon. Lord Speaker.
27 October 2018: The Loomba Foundation will host Diwali Celebration event at Varanasi by inviting around 1,500 beneficiary widows followed by Lunch.
ABOUT THE LOOMBA FOUNDATION:
The Loomba Foundation was inspired by Lord Loomba’s late mother, Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, who became a widow at an early age of 37 and succeeded in educating her seven children singlehandedly in Punjab. The Foundation successfully campaigned for the declaration of International Widows’ Day by the United Nations, which takes place on 23 June every year around the world. Lord Loomba has been honoured with several recognitions and accolades including the Indian Government’s Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Patra; the United Nations Association of New York’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the Forbes India Philanthropy Award; British Asian of the Year Award; and an Honorary Fellowship by The University of Northampton. It was due to the efforts of Lord Loomba that the United Nations recognized 23 June as International Widows Day which has helped bring the world’s attention to this neglected humanitarian crisis that impacts more than 259 million widows and their 584 million children worldwide.