(Our Contributor, May 6)
Entrepreneur-turned-industrialist-turned-philanthropist Dr P Mohamed Ali hardly needs an introduction. Almost 50 years since he set up Galfar, the engineering firm, in Oman, Dr Ali’s business has spread across countries. But at the core of the conglomerate – with deep interest in construction, manufacturing, hospitality, real estate, education et al − is what Dr Ali says, “creating value”.
With this vision, Dr Ali began working on a foundation that could inspire youths not only in Oman but also in his hometown Thalikulam in Thrissur, and in Kerala to pursue their dreams. Established in 1988, PM Foundation has been supporting hundreds of economically weaker yet meritorious students across the country through fellowships, scholarships and cash awards. Years before the government came up with educational loan, the foundation began doling out interest-free financial assistance to students. It has also facilitated tuition for civil services and other competitive exams in engineering, medical, chartered accountancy among others.
Before leaving India for Dubai, Dr Ali worked with General Reserve Engineering Force, under the Ministry of Defence of Mizohill, now renamed as Mizoram, for three years. Unlike most of the people of his generation, Dr Ali wanted to do something on his own, and with that dream of entrepreneurship, he set foot in Dubai.
In an interview, Dr Ali, the first recipient of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman of the Government of India, said that he had sought the ethos of India to attain a global height through his initiative of PM International. While on one hand, Galfar constructed roads and modern buildings in an arid land of Oman to reshape its infrastructure, on the other his endeavours back home in India through MFAR created thousands of job opportunities in a wide spectrum from technology park to five-star hotels. In the process, the visionary could come up with India’s first producer of activated carbon and universities and schools, as well.
In early 2001, almost 30 years after Dr Ali began his journey as an entrepreneur, realized the need for empowering youths with proper education to remain relevant in the new millennium. With some like-minded people, he initiated the foundation stone of non-profit trust, Social Advancement Foundation of India (SAFI). It gave birth to SAFI Institute of Advanced Study (SIAS) in Vazhayur near Kozhikode in 2005 with Dr Ali as the current chairman (emeritus) of the board. This institute, in its undergraduate, postgraduate and research courses, reflects the vision of Dr Ali, who feels brilliance in studies can make a person excel in the work life too. If PM Foundation helps students aspire to be global Indian, SIAS takes care of them to turn the thoughts into action for a fruitful future.
Looking at the healthcare infrastructure in Kerala, Dr Ali – arguably the 12th richest Indian now – initiated medical assistance through PM Foundation and partner NGOs who would take care of the needy patients. At heart, Dr Ali is still the modest Indian who dreamed big and did bigger. “If you are fearless and honest in your action, you can conquer the world. You can do it with the attitude to gratitude, the principle of giving back to the society,” signs off Dr Ali.