This is the rags-to-riches success story of a little boy who made it big in life. Even while attending a neighbourhood madarsa, followed by a municipal school, he started selling odd goods from a roadside stall. But Sirajuddin Qureshi wasn't one of those who was to accept misery as his destiny. He was to write his own fate; so he has, that too in golden letters.
Qureshi, as a young boy, would buy small goods from the market and sell them from roadside stalls. His weekends were spent selling cooked c hholey or shahi tukda (sweetened bread) which would earn him only a small sum to bear the expenses of his education. He admits, “The little sum which I used to earn from street vending did make me very happy, but not to the extent of quenching my total thirst. In fact, it motivated me to pursue studies further and make a mark of my own.”
Financial constraints failed to deter him from pursuing further education. He graduated from Delhi University and then pursued a degree in Law, which qualified him for several job positions on offer. But Qureshi had entrepreneurial yearnings. He got his first order worth Rs.17,000 for meat export to Dubai, and there has been no looking back since. He went ahead with scripting a brilliant success story and established his own business.
What followed is history. In 1988, Qureshi became the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Hind group of industries and established the first meat processing plant near Delhi in 1989. Hind group of industries, with interests ranging from meat processing to fast food to aviation, Qureshi says, “is a name trusted in 50 countries, with interests in agro-processing, abattoirs, livestock development, engineering, education, hospitality and power.” His early street retail business has stood him in good stead.
The latest feather in Qureshi's cap was the U.S. President Barack Obama's invitation for an entrepreneurial summit in Washington in April this year. He was one of the few businessmen from places like Africa, West Asia, Southeast Asia and the U.S. The summit fell in line with Obama's policy on strengthening ties with business leaders from Muslim communities across the world and the U.S. Describing it as just another altitude attained in his career, but not the pinnacle, Qureshi says, “There's a long way to go.”
Obama, Qureshi says, was very appreciative of India, the country's varied culture and economic talent, and has expressed his desire to strengthen the relationship with India, considering it an emerging world power and one of the special countries for the U.S.
Qureshi also took the opportunity to invite Obama to visit the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) in New Delhi and address the centre designed to be a “platform to promote peace and brotherhood” when he visits India later this year.
Spreading the light of education
Giving a glimpse into his past, Qureshi says, “My father wanted me to go to the best school in the city but he did not have the means. But that couldn't stop me from pursuing my further education.” Now, well aware of the importance of education in life and career, Sirajuddin is helping scores of youngsters, especially from the minority sections of the society. Under the aegis of the Noble Education Foundation at the IICC, of which Sirajuddin is president, thousands of economically challenged youth are being prepared and supported to pursue higher professional education. Qureshi bears the entire education expenses spent on them.
In Delhi alone, at IICC on Lodi Road, hundreds of students, including housewives, school and college students and professionals, are benefiting from a free personality training and communication skill development programme. “These courses equip the youngsters to be competition-ready,” says Qureshi.