By Anuradha Das | NT BUZZ
In India he is a well known business figure as the owner and managing director of V M Salgaocar Group of Companies. Additionally, Goans know him for his illustrious lineage. So we at the ZEST BUZZ weekender decided to get a more personal peek into the man – Raj Salgaocar - behind the business icon – Dattaraj V Salgaocar.
In an interaction we discover a serious, no frills personality whose driving passions in life are Goa and business, a man who earnestly believes in the maxim that “life is not only about making profit, but giving back to our society for causes dear to our hearts.”
What is Dattaraj Salgaocar like when he is not doing business?
It is difficult to switch off completely from business and I must confess even on holidays and on vacation business interests do occupy some of my time. I enjoy spending time with my family and close circle of friends in my free time. I love listening to music and am an avid reader. On the weekends I visit art shows and follow the contemporary and modern art scene in India. During my vacations, I pursue my interest in wildlife and photography.
ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE...
For a person coming from a hardcore business family how did you get into the Arts?
Goa offers herself as a perfect muse for all art lovers. It is difficult to be a Goan and not to love the Arts, be it music, painting, singing, performance, sketching; whichever your medium. My parents enjoyed the performing arts and Indian classical music and I also developed a keen interest in music, both contemporary and classical. From a young age, I loved painting and sketching and won prizes in my school days. However, studying engineering at college in Mumbai denied me much time to indulge in learning the arts, but I began collecting art and appreciating it. Business and art are not mutually exclusive, and each one compliments the other.
How did Sunaparanta- Goa Centre for the Arts come about?
I have always been passionate about the arts and over the years felt the need to create a platform in Goa to encourage, learn, understand, appreciate and promote the visual arts through education, dialogue and collaboration with the best we can offer. I believe private initiatives for the Arts, which are sustainable over a long term, instead of solely depending on the government. Sunaparanta – the Goa Centre for the Arts, is my dream which has come true; it is my private initiative and not for profit, process-based initiative to bring art to Goa and Goans to art. It is over two years since we started and I am very happy with what we have achieved in this short span right from art classes for children, movie workshops, pottery classes, major shows, book releases, musical performances, etc. The Prison Art programme initiated by Margaret and Swati has been unique and very well appreciated all over the world. There has been a tremendous response from all Goans and art lovers for all our programmes.
Where do you see both your business and Art interest 10 years from now?
With India’s growth story I see both business and art flourishing for the next few decades.
You are into the media also with two publications. Why choose to run a Konkani daily and not an English daily?
Konkani is our mother tongue. At the time of the language agitation, and whilst I along with others lobbied in New Delhi for Konkani to be included in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution, I found that one of our greatest weaknesses was the absence of a Konkani daily. In 1987 we started Sunaparanta, and I knew from the beginning it would not make money and instead might actually lose money. Yet, I did it for a cause that is close to my heart. Life is not only about making profit but giving back to our society for causes dear to our hearts.
Your core business is mining. How has the controversy affected you?
One needs to understand that Goa’s economy is dependent on the mining industry and it has always been there since the Portuguese times. There have been good times and bad times for the industry. In fact over 10 years back it was more bad times. With the China boom in the last decade, a lot of fly by night operators have entered this industry to sell iron ore to China’s steel industry flouting various rules and regulations. This may have also inspired a lot of locals to indulge in such practices. Illegal mining in Goa has to be dealt with firmly and stopped and I do not think there is any controversy in this. What is required is proper and systematic mining with adequate governmental safeguards and controls.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE OF LIFE...
What is your favourite travel destination and what is it about travelling that you like the most?
I do not have a particular favourite place, but I must confess I am partial to any place with a wildlife park or reserve. Be it Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Masai Mara, Okawango Delta, Serengeti, Kruger National Park, etc.
Travel and food go hand in hand...what is your favourite world cuisine?
Travel and food need not always go hand in hand. My favourite is Japanese food, but it impossible to get sushi while on safari! I also love French and Italian cuisine, but nothing compares with my love for Goan fish curry and rice after a long sojourn.
Do you and your wife share similar tastes in food in particular and life in general?
My wife is Gujarati and I am a Goan. We share several common interests and passions including the Arts, travel and music. She is a fabulous cook, and since she is mostly vegetarian she ensures we have a balanced diet at home.
Indians, even Goans, are increasingly obsessed with foreign cuisine. Do you think the good old fish curry will lose its footing?
Goan culture has always embraced many foreign influences and has come out stronger and better for the future. Through time we have never given up our own distinct taste. Society is now totally globalised and the young generation is exposed to all forms of foreign cuisine, and we should encourage this. I do not think our fish curry will ever lose its footing.
What is the typical cuisine in your home? Like so many celebrities, do you too like to try your hand at cooking once in a while – say to de stress?
The typical cuisine in my home is Goan cuisine with lots of seafood prepared in traditional Goan style using my mother’s recipes. The vegetarian food has some Gujarati influence, which comes from my wife.
You are a very soberly dressed man. Do you dress to meet an image or does your dressing reflect your personality?
I believe that comfort comes first. Of course for business and officials meetings one has to dress formally, although I am not the biggest fan of a suit.
What do you drive? Do you think a man is reflected in his choice of wheels?
I rarely drive in Goa because I think it is rather unsafe. Again to me comfort and safely are important, and my preferred car is a Mercedes.
Your driving passion in life?