30 yrs later, Modi brothers celebrate in J&K
Three generations of the Modi family descended in Srinagar on May Day to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Promila Saraf.
The Modi-Saraf families had their last family get together in the Valley in 1982. “We would hire a Donga boat, park it in the middle of the Dal Lake as a couple of motorboats would bring provisions till midnight,” remembers KK Kanoria, who is married into the Modi family. Srinagar, said BK Modi – fourth in seniority among the brothers – who now runs his Spice Global from Singapore, could have been a global city.
“Srinagar airport is stated to be international, but there is no foreign carrier landing here,” he said. “I told Farooq (Abdullah) why doesn’t the government take a decision? I will personally get 10 foreign carriers landing in Srinagar.” Elaborating more on Srinagar city, he said the entire green belt of Zabarwan Hills – housing Raj Bhawan, two major five-star hotels and many Mughal gardens, currently a no-go for any intervention – should be converted into a special economic zone (SEZ), open for foreign investment. But none of the five brothers is thinking of investing in Kashmir even though they feel it is better (security wise) now.
“This is a high risk and low returns area,” said Godfrey Philips’ KK Modi, the eldest among the brothers. “We want to invest despite the fact that we cannot even own a house in Srinagar,” he said, adding they had planned a small plant in Kishtwar for processing wood to create raw material for one of the major factories, but it failed.
“The priority right now is how to keep the city open so development has taken the back seat,” KK Modi said, adding “Development cannot take place unless you talk to the people who are angry with you.” The Modis are planning a grander outing in Srinagar by the end of the month. “All our families are flying from across the world on May 30 for two days to celebrate the 70th birth anniversary of VK Modi,” said BK Modi.
“That time, we will book the entire Lalit Grand Palace for two days.” Again, it will be vegetarian Wazwaan, he said. “I vividly remember 1987 when I came for my honeymoon to Kashmir and it was so beautiful that I extended it for a month,” said Ashish Saraf, who heads the Rs2,000-crore Ferro Alloys Corporation. “So when my mother’s wedding anniversary was being discussed I chose Srinagar,” he said.