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  Coronavirus Response

Published on: June 10, 2020, 11:57 a.m.
A masala bond
  • Datar hands over a ticket to an Indian woman so that she can fly back from Dubai

By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

Many had lost their jobs and had no money for air tickets back to India. Some were sick, some were pregnant. A group of workers from Telangana had no money even to eat. The most needy among them found a saviour in a fellow Indian who lives in Dubai and runs the Al-Adil group, wholesalers and retailers of more than 9,000 Indian food items like premium pulses, spices, groceries, branded items and assorted non-food items.

Says Dr Dhananjay M. Datar, chairman and managing director of Al-Adil Trading, which he set up in 1984 and grew to earn the title of Masala King conferred on him by the rulers of UAE: “This is a personal initiative from my side to help those who are unable to meet the expenses of travelling to their homeland.” Appreciating the Indian government’s massive repatriation efforts to help those stranded due to the pandemic, he says, “It is the duty of all of us to help our brethren in distress in whatever way we can.”

His way has been to help organise travel for over 3,000 people, paying on average Rs17,000 for at least 1,000 of them, for their food, tickets and Covid tests. “There are many who have lost their jobs and are unable to go back. Most of them have been thrown out of their rented homes and even forced to spend nights on the roads. I am coordinating with the approved bodies to extend a helping hand to them, strictly following all necessary guidelines in connection with this. I also request all my fellow citizens to do their bit so that together we can overcome this crisis at the earliest,” the 56-year-old businessman says.

Datar’s Al-Adil took on the full burden of screening, a mandatory Covid-19 test and all other formalities before they could be cleared for flights. For the 50-odd poor and penniless labourers from Telangana who had no other resources left, he paid for not only the medical tests and travel but also full rations.

"There are many pregnant women, children, tourists and others on short-term visas who have been stranded here. I helped them go back home to Kerala, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Goa and Chandigarh," he says. One Indian woman was 32 weeks pregnant; she and her husband wanted the child to be born in India, and were among the lucky ones selected by Datar.

There have been some 16 daily flights from the UAE to various parts of India, as nearly 65 per cent of the workforce in the Gulf countries are Indians, a large number of being from Kerala; 90 per cent of the businesses also are owned or run by Indians. “I had to do my bit as a fellow Indian, concerned with the plight of those stranded here,” he says self-deprecatingly. “I am simply doing my duty, along with the Indian Consulate and Air India.”

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