An Anglo-Indian with Mangalorean links

An Anglo-Indian with Mangalorean links

An accomplished Anglo-Indian, whose roots are in Chennai, KGF and Bangalore, now has close links with Mangalore.

Claudius Pereira, the founder and managing director of System Tech Group of companies, earliest connection to Mangalore came when he joined hands with Suresh Hebbar, another person of Mangalore origin, and set up his own computer kits sales outfit.

Later, the bond with Mangalore strengthened through his marriage to Monica Fernandes of Mangalorean origin.

Claudius Pereira is a member of the Kanara Entrepreneurs Limited (KEL) since its inception. KEL is a global, non-profit, mutual benefit corporation founded in Dubai by successful entrepreneurs and business executives from the Kanara region. It is a non-profit organization that promotes entrepreneurship among individuals from the South Kanara region and aims to provide opportunities for sustainable development.
The objective was to participate in the development of the district, which is fast becoming an industrial hub. The organisation supports and nurtures the growth of entrepreneurship through affiliations to cover all key locations with individuals having similar objectives. KEL has a chapter in Bangalore.

Pereira joined as a director in 2006 in Mangalore Internet City (MIC), an integrated township and information technology park costing Rs 1,000 crore. MIC is an initiative of several members of KEL, set up with the objective of encouraging, supporting and nurturing entrepreneurship among individuals from the Kanara region Karnataka in India.

It is envisaged that the proposed activities of 75-acre Mangalore Internet City in Shakti Nagar will provide opportunities for several entrepreneurs to set up new businesses as well as employment opportunities to people residing in Mangalore, thereby augmenting the economic growth of this region.

Pereira was also a resource person at the Entrepreneurial Training programme organised in collaboration with KEL on March 11 this year at the Aloysius Institute of Management and Information Technology.

Claudius Pereira is now in the news because of his book, “Echoes of Footprints” which will be launched on May 5, at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore by Archbishop of Bangalore Bernard Moras.

Pereira’s life, as also that of his family, is a saga of tragedy, struggle, sacrifice and triumph described in his book, “Echoes of Footprints.”   He is the last of the seven children of Clarence Joseph Pereira. The others being Philip, Patricia, Eustace, Lucia, James and Veronica. Claudius explains the genesis and the growth of the autobiographical from the perspective of the seven children and biographical in as much as their narrative of the father narrative that makes up the book, ‘Echoes of Footprints.’

“It is both biographical and autobiographical. I and the core team of Philip, Patricia and James have put in over 2000 hours of work into it since 2006, when the idea first occurred,” he says.

Roots

“Echoes of Footprints” is an unusual kind of book because it seeks to trace the family history of Pereiras dating back to 1673, when the ancestors came down from France to settle in Goa around the time the French conquerors landed in Pondicherry.

Claudius undertook painstaking efforts to go back to the family roots starting with the life and travails of his great grandfather James Bernard Pereira and travelled back and forth to Lisbon, Portugal, London, England and Chennai, Madras and Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) near Bangalore.

Unlike in the Western or European countries, where tracing family genealogical roots is gaining popularity among the well-heeled, the trend has never really caught on in India except perhaps traditional families along the coast in Mangalore or Goa. But getting historical data and family records is indeed a tough task. “I was surprised to find the marriage certificate of my great grandfather in England,” said Claudius explaining that birth and death records of many Indians of foreign origin going back to three or four hundred years could be found in the archives in Lisbon or London.

“Echoes of Footprints” is not just about the Pereiras but also the Lazars, the family of his rich and aristocratic grandmother Neena Lazar. This family traded in diamonds and precious stones and was perhaps the first family in Egmore, Madras, to own a horse and carriage some 300 years ago. Claude and Nina’s son, Clarence Joseph Pereira, is the central figure of Echoes of Footprints. The ancient history apart, the book deals with the eternal family values, love and loyalty besides the importance of hard work.

Clarence had his early education at St William’s Anglo-Indian School in Royapettah, Madras. However, he, soon found education was a luxury he could ill-afford and took up the job as salesman at the Spencer & Co, which started as a small retail store in 1864 and later became Asia’s biggest departmental store chain. But life was tough as he was retrenched from service on April 24, 1939, due to recession.

The family shifted to Kolar Gold Fields, popularly known as KGF, and took up job in the gold mines which had a sizeable European and Anglo-Indians. Clarence became an underground telephone operator in the mines which helped in sustaining his family.
He was allotted a mining house in KGF’s Upstairs Block, Champion Reef. It was at this stage that Clarence got married to Phyllis Thomas and the couple had seven children – Philip, Patricia, Donald, Lucy, James, Veronica and Claudius.

Clarence with a paltry salary of Rs 66 a month had to look after his huge family and mother. When it became difficult to make both ends meet, the only source of sustenance were the precious jewels of Nina which used to be frequently pawned and redeemed. He suffered a big blow with his wife’s death due to illness in 1968, when the eldest Philip was 15 and the youngest Claudius was 3. Though life was tough and the outlook bleak, Clarence pulled on.  The operation of the gold mines, considered the second largest and richest in the world and now under closure, was taken over the then Mysore Government in 1946 and later by the Centre in 1962 and eventually handed over to the Central public sector undertaking Bharat Gold Mines Ltd (BGML).  But that did not improve the fortunes of Clarence and worsened. He lost his hearing and afflicted with asthma. He lost his mother Nina on May 23, 1983 leaving Clarence to carry on all alone.

The seven children narrate their accounts of the father’s heroic battle and sacrifices as well as their struggles, failures and triumphs, which makes a fascinating and captivating read. Claudius, himself, describes how he came up in life, schooled in KGF, graduated and joined as a salesman in a private company selling computer media kits while staying in a lodge near Malleswaram in Bangalore paying a rent of Rs 6 per month, and soon climbed up the ladder. Soon, he set up his own computer kits sales outfit, launched a Mexican Pub and a software export firm, and then literally went burst.  The father Clarence died of cancer in March 1992. Instead of giving up and folding, Claudius courageously recovered and revived himself to scale greater heights. He now runs four companies, runs a business consulting outfit, employs several persons, owns a sprawling farm house.

The book, published by Bangalore-based ATC Publications, will also be launched in London (May 18) and Detroit (May 26) of UK and USA

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