“Little India” in Jackson Heights, Queens New York.
After a long eclipse, an ancient country finally returns as a force in global business and culture.
From the exclusive Club Lounge on the 19th floor of Singapore’s Mandarin Oriental, Anish Lalvani gazes out at the city’s skyline, a dazzling array of glass and steel and vertical ambition. The Lalvani family has come a long way since the days when Anish’s paternal grandfather, Tirath Singh Lalvani, got his start in business by retailing medicines to King George VI’s soldiers in Karachi. Back then the city was a part of British colonial India—until independence arrived in 1947, and its inhabitants suddenly found themselves amid the bloody turmoil of the newborn Pakistan. The Lalvanis, like millions of others on both sides of the border, fled for their lives. But instead of making new homes in present-day India, the Lalvanis sought their fortunes abroad. Today the family’s Hong Kong–based Binatone Group employs some 400 people on four continents. “We couldn’t break the old boys’ network,” says Anish. “But overseas we created our own.”