Indian-origin grocer in race for Cambridge chancellor

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  1. ejazr

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    Oct 8, 2009
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    Indian-origin grocer in race for Cambridge chancellor - India - DNA

    In a historic first, Abdul Arain, an Indian-origin local grocer is among four individuals in the race to become the 108th chancellor of the University of Cambridge. If Arain is elected, he will take over charge from Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; the chancellor from 1976 who is set to retire in June.

    Arain, 46, was born in Kenya but has roots in Jalandhar, where his father was born. He received “well in excess” of the required 50 nominations to ensure a place in the bid to become the 108th chancellor since Hugh de Hottun was elected in the 13th century.

    “I have received support from Indian academics and students at Cambridge, besides senior Senate members. I have support from both, the town and the gown,” he said.

    The other three candidates are Lord Sainsbury, actor Brian Blessed and barrister Michael Mansfield. Voting for the constitutional head of the 802-year-old university will take place on October 14 and 15.

    Arain moved to Cambridge from Kenya in 1980. He has an MBA degree from Cambridge, and worked as an auditor before starting the grocery store ‘Al-Amin’ which he describes the store as a “melting pot of cuisines and cultures.”

    A popular figure at the university in Cambridge, he said the local people “wanted someone who could relate to them” and he was “honoured” with the support.

    Arain, who has family in Mumbai and visits India often, said he was running for the post because he felt passionately about the local community and did not wish to see supermarket chains “depleting the area”.

    The sub-text of the contest is his opposition to retail major Sainsbury’s opening a giant store on Mill Road, which would adversely affect his business. The Sainsbury’s chain across the UK is owned by Lord Sainsbury, the official candidate.

    If he does make it, that would mean that an Indian-origin person is heading the most prestigious university in UK for the first time in its history.

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