Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Cyrus Poonawalla Gets Honorary Degree from Oxford University

It was a select group of his inner circle that accompanied Cyrus Poonawalla, founder and chairman of Serum Institute of India, when he received an honorary degree from the University of Oxford for his work in the field of life-saving vaccines and philanthropy, recently. Besides his daughter-in-law, the glamorous Natasha, there was Karan Billimoria (Baron Billimoria of Chelsea), the British-Indian entrepreneur who is a life peer in the UK House of Lords and founder of a popular global beer brand; Mumbai-based Gautam Kotwal, Poonawalla’s old friend and bloodstock advisor; Rusi Dalal, head of London’s Parsi community; Mrs and Mr Pervez Grant, owners of Pune’s Ruby Hall hospital; James Underwood , international racing authority and celebrated Mumbai-based criminal lawyer Satish Maneshinde.

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“Cyrus was at his very best dressed in traditional robes at the garden party held at Worcester college,” said Kotwal, who is back in Mumbai, when we spoke yesterday. “Later that evening, he threw a party at one of Oxford’s Michelin starred restaurants.” Following the billionaire philanthropists’ honor, Natasha had posted a picture of the two together, saying, “Spent the day conversing with some incredible faculty, discussing ways to further our global health impact through our vaccine work at Serum Institute and even more interesting to me was their in-depth knowledge of issues relevant to India for the Villoo Poonawalla Foundation to further our philanthropic endeavours.” And then, in customary style, we are informed that the workaholic septuagenarian caught a chopper to an airstrip near London from where he flew out in his PJ to Pune, and straight to his office!