Great Goans

By Radharao Gracias
26 July 2012 14:05 IST

This last week, saw the death of Gracias Saldanha, undisputedly the richest Goan, in the world. At the time of his death, he was ranked 69th on the list of richest Indians, with a net worth of 805 million dollars, according to Forbes. No other Goan figures in the list. He was low profile and not surprisingly, there was very little mention of him, in the Goan media.

At the time of his death, he was the Chairman Emeritus of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, a company, headquartered in Bombay, he founded with his pension fund in the year 1977. The company now has drug manufacturing units in Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and elsewhere. Glenmark has a presence in ninety five countries of the world.

Saldanha earlier worked with leading pharmaceutical companies like Abbott Laboratories and E Merck and was an MSc from Bombay University, with a diploma in management studies from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.

His Business Profile reads: “Gracias Saldanha is another reclusive billionaire. This 70-year-old is the owner of Glenmark, one of India’s top pharmacy firms where he has clocked over four decades. The real difference between him and other pharmacy billionaires is his quest for drug discovery. He is betting big money not just on generic drugs, but also ensuring that he can find some new stand-alone products. This is a risky, expensive bet and could determine the kind of legacy he leaves the industry. His other push is acquisitions, with the latest being a Czech drug firm last year. Very little is known about his personal interests, but it is believed that he has a fondness for art and is also a collector of antiques.”

Besides pharmaceuticals, Saldanha’s other interest was horse racing and “Game to Remember” a horse owned by him, won the upper division of the confucious plate, for horses, five years and over in Bangalore the day he died. Gracias Saldanha made the health of the nation his priority and wealth followed. Saldanha hails from Saligao (where else? The village seems to have an uncanny ability to produce great men) and he still owns his ancestral house. Glenmark is now headed by his son Glen Saldanha.

As Saldanha bloomed in Mumbai, the second richest Goan in the world, is flying high in Malaysia. Anthony Francis Fernandes, is the fifteenth richest man in Malaysia, with a net worth of 615 million dollars according to Forbes. Tony, as he is generally known, now aged 47 is the son of Dr. Steven Fernandes from Carxeta, Velim, Salcete, who married Ena Dorothy, a Malacca Kristeng (descendants of Christians from the former Portuguese colony of Malacca, where the body of St. Francis Xavier was initially buried after he had died in Sancian, China). Tony studied at Epsom College, Surrey between 1977-83 and graduated from the London School of Economics in 1987. Tony studied at Eton and later graduated from Epsom College.Anthony Francis Fernandes

After working for Virgin Atlantic and Warner Music Group, he decided to start a budget, no frills airline. He was advised by the Malaysian Government to take over Air Asia, the heavily indebted and failing airline. Pulling all his resources, after mortgaging his house he took over the airlines and as others laughed at him, turned it around and today it is the most successful airline in South East Asia. He is also into hoteliering and has started a hotel chain, Tune Hotels which, like his airlines, is a no frills concept, with hotels in Malaysia and Indonesia.

True to his Goan roots, he is into sports and is president of the ASEAN Basketball league.

Fernandes is the team principal of Caterham F1 Formula 1 team which began racing in 2010 as Lotus racing and raced in 2011 as Team Lotus. His company has also purchased Caterham cars.

 He is also into Formula car racing and is the owner of Lotus Racing F1 Team. And he has done something that every Goan should be proud of. He is now the chairman of Queens Park Rangers (QPR) holdings, having bought sixty six percent of the share from Bernie Ecclestone. He thus becomes the first Goan to own a football team in the English Premier League, which is an incentive for Goans to shift their allegiance from Manchester United to QPR.

Fernandes has been honoured by King of Malaysia with title Tan Sri, Dato' Sri and also by the government of France with the Legion d'Honneur Order. In 2011, Tony Fernandes was awarded a CBE or Commander of the Order of the British Empire “for services to promote commercial and educational links" between Malaysia and the UK. He has won innumerable awards including the 2010 Forbes Asia Businessman of the Year.

From the success of these two Goans, it is evident, that a Goan has to go out, to go on. And, it is equally clear, that one can achieve huge wealth through honest hard work, something which cannot be said about the super rich in Goa, who have amassed huge wealth, in one of two ways, namely, rampant destruction of the environment through dubious mining or real estate activity. And these are classified, as the patriotic Goans.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.

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Respected sir,

I am John Rodrigues, aged 47 years from Shiroda, Goa. I am married and have wife and 2 children's. Previously, I was working in passenger ship, now since the corona pandemic, I am at home since January, 2020.

In order to support my family there is no job for me at present, so I am selling my own property together with house. The complete house with plot is 675 sq.meter with 7 coconut trees, 4 mango trees, my house is built in 1976 with 4 bed rooms, a living room, a dining hall, a store room, 2 passages with kitchen and toilet bathroom, a balcony and a 40 feet deep natural well. Have 24 hour water connection that is separate. Have car and bike parkings. Monthly maintenance is Rs.650 i.e. electricity bill. Total cost of the complete plot with house is 95 lakhs.

Kindly help me to buy my property.

Attached please check my property video link:

Thanking you.

John Rodrigues

Shiroda, Goa.

- John Rodrigues, Shiroda, Goa | 15 th November 2020 23:21


Few people whom you personally interact or see closely in life do at times shape your opinions and method of living.Late horse owner Mr Gracias.Saldanha taught me the meaning of "HUMILITY" and the responsibility of being a common man despite a billionaire businessman.I was a regular at the Mahalaxmi racecourse as a common punter since 1990 and in later years as a catholic would wonder at the importance of a small racehorse owner named Mr Gracias.Saldanha. His horses were never "Indian Derby" contenders and he owned a small string of racehorses.Most importantly was that he would freely mingle in the common "1 st Enclosure" betting ring" with other common punters including yours truly.I have even eavesdropped on his conversation with a Parsi in which he joked the typical "Stereotype Mumbai jokes" that identifies each community, catholics being labelled as "Pawwallas" ! Later i once googled his name and was surprised to know that this ordinary looking Uncle was the wealthiest "Indian Pawwalla" in the world, much richer than fellow horse owner Mr vijay.Mallya. From that day i realized the value of humility in society and how great wealth brings great responsibility which few people carry with such good finesse as did Industrialist Mr Gracias.Saldanha.I was lucky to be playing race horses and observing the etiquette of some of the wealthiest people of India which included late Mr Gracias.Saldanha.

- Rudolph.A.Furtado, Mumbai | 03 rd December 2014 11:05


Goans judged by personal achievements in business, sports, social work, literature not enough. important is what they did for Goa. Jobs, guidance or any help when Goans need. Many luminaries facilitated are more like visiting faculty who give lecture and go. Glenmark, Caro have done good service by setting units in Goa. They need to congratulated.

- savita naik, margao | 08 th August 2012 20:50


What Kalidas says is right.We Goans hav a POND mentality of a manduk/frog.We do not see beyond Goa/Goans/niz Goemcars..etc.and yet our writers openly blame shivsena/raj thakare/ramsena and mor v imp thing..if a hindu goan family migrates out of goa to maharashtra/ is branded as maharashtrian/karnataki/keralite/ghatti within a few generation..but a family with a lusito catholic last name remains a goan no matter how many generation they are out of goa...isn`t this UNIQUE ? Many wd not blieve today but Pedncars and Canconncars were NOT considered goans during the 19th and early 20th century in margao/panjim...because these territories were NOT in goa but in Sawantwadi and SOUNDA kingdom,before.even ,old canconncars were saying," GOYANTU vachun yeta !" when they wd actually visit margao .this makes even Sandesh a non-goan !

- cruz , salcette | 07 th August 2012 12:00


Khristangs ,and not khristengs are the descendents of Portuguese sailors/soldiers /petty traders and their Malay wives or concubines ...they are known as Eurasians or Khristangs / kristangs and they do not have any Goan blood .St.Xavier died in Shanchun island in the South China sea and was FIRST buried there . Then his body was taken to Melaka and buried there.Then it was taken to old Goa.

- Dalvi, Goa | 06 th August 2012 14:02


a person born of goan father is a goan as per goan law. radharao is correct in praising them. There are several such goans who have done well.

- jayesh nayak, porvorim | 06 th August 2012 12:22


Tony Fernandes was never a Goan, he was born to a Goan parents outside of Goa and lived his life outside Goa. You can say he has Goan roots but he is not a Goan.

Just like Leander Paes who considers himself a Bengali, and rightly so!

I have no idea about the other Guy. What about Alemao, etc. didn't they make it big by being in Goa. You should research your topic well before throwing some general conclusions.

Your logic is lopsided and is very narrow!

- Gevino, USA | 05 th August 2012 22:41


Some Goans,mostly from the "Goa Political class",have also become " greatly rich", through corrupt practices.

Many Businesses & land & properties & football teams & hotels & mines etc. are owned by the Political class.

It is well known ..."IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE -

"Only a person with identical character traits

would be able to recognize those traits in someone else.

well done Mr Gracias...but how come you have omitted some other great names.??.

- N Fernandes-London, London | 28 th July 2012 19:15


Your premise to become "well-known" Goan is entirely centered on accumulating wealth. I wonder how much the above two rich folks that you have portrayed consider themselves Goans or have given anything in return to Goa.

Is amassing huge wealth the only measure of success?

- Jagan Kamat, Canada | 28 th July 2012 00:25


Dear Nikton,

Thank you very much for your wise observations. I have accordingly made necessary changes in my article.

Thanks once again.

- Radharao Gracias , Majorda | 27 th July 2012 16:59


Correction Needed:

He own Caterham F1 Racing Team(not Lotus F1). He & Lotus split 2years back over use of the name/trademark LOTUS in magazines and by the race team which created quit a stir. Lotus F1 Team is racing separately this season. So you better update it up here too before it creates another stir for him!

He also own the sports car brand Caterham Cars.

Its sad that the local-media realises people like him now. The real people interested already know about him. But they say LATE IS BETTER THEN NEVER!

Media should know what they put up, before making corrections later.

- Nickton Dias, Panaji | 26 th July 2012 17:28


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