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"If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat." - Sun Tzu
Cover Theme
- Making The Difference
- Miss NRI Global 2005
- Mrs. NRI Global 2005
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- Rhodes Scholar
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- Investment Rush to India
From The History Books
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- 400 Year Ago In Fathepur Sikri
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Wednesday May 24, 2017
Cover Theme: Making the Difference
Making the Difference
Vol: 1 Num: 1    Winter 2006
One child, one woman, one senior citizen at a time, Rennu Dhillon is making the difference

When she tried to enter Miss Kenya pageant, Rennu Dhillon was told that she could not because she is not African even though she was born in Kenya and is a Kenyan citizen. Then she tried to enter Miss Femina pageant in Bombay, India. They told her that she could not because she didn’t live in India.

At that time Rennu decided that one day she would create a platform for NRI (non-resident Indian) women that would go beyond fashion, glamour and Bollywood.

It took a while but she has done it. After two years of planning and groundwork, Rennu launched Miss NRI Global pageant in San Francisco. As promised, it contained all that she had said and then some more, which is not quite surprising considering that she is a remarkable woman of many talents.

A pharmacist by education, Rennu found her calling in areas quite different from medicines. She calls herself a community activist, children and their education are her passion, loves her fashion and branded shows and is dedicated to organizing events for kids and senior citizens.

A second generation NRI, Rennu has lived in three continents and has observed the expatriate community well, which is reflected in many of her projects.

Generations of Indian settled in distant places show amazing diversity and common connections. Most Indian immigrants to Africa were businessmen. There they became big economic force and politically influential. Many of UK’s NRIs are business people and professionals too but a significant number is from villages. The growing Indian immigration to USA consists primarily of professionals.

These migrating Indians took with them an image of their homeland arguably stuck in time. Over the years they evolved, got integrated with natives and developed their own distinct community identity, which differs in many ways from each other. These differences have influenced Rennu’s passions and work.

She found the NRI community in Africa to be most broad minded. She grew up in a Sikh community in Mombassa, Kenya where the Gurudwara shares the boundary wall with the Arya Samaj temple. Compared to that she has found NRIs in UK and USA to be old fashioned and intolerant of religious and political differences amongst Indians.

Rennu credits education to the broad mindedness of NRI community in Africa. No wonder education for children is one of her passions. It is also the reason that she founded Genius Kids – a school for kids. While teaching her kids to read, she realized that she had stumbled upon something worthwhile. So she developed a reading curriculum, a book and a CD-ROM. Now her six years old school is getting great testimonials.

Rennu also wants to do a lot for our senior citizens. She thinks that our temples are too focused on religious events and don’t do much for seniors. She wants to change it. Through Sikh community centers she organizes events to help seniors and youth get more involved with the community and the main-stream.

She had also not forgotten her initial dream of a beauty pageant for NRI women. She produced one this year. Those who have seen Michael Kane prepare Sandra Bullock for the beauty pageant in Miss Congeniality know that it takes a lot of efforts to prepare for such a contest. So, Rennu included grooming workshops for five days covering topics like public speaking, how to dress, how to present yourself on the stage and yoga.

She also invited many professionals from such diverse fields as entertainment and medicine to give the contestants pointers about how to make a career in their respective fields.

The outcome was highly effective, as Mikki Singhal, winner of Mrs. NRI Global Pageant, says, ‘It made me feel more confident about myself – just being able to present myself in front of so many – it was not an easy task.’

The tasks Rennu Dhillon has taken up are also not easy, but then she sums up her philosophy quite well, “you can’t change the masses, but if I make the difference with one or two persons then it will be a good start.” §

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is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Mood Indico magazine, a niche publication for the affluent South Asians living in the north America

 

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