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Saturday, 14 January 2012 17:03 By Stephen Bwire
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Miraj BarotHe was born with a silver spoon that he has turned into gold

Rarely does a father entrust his life’s fortune to the stewardship of a toddler. But Miraj Barot, 23, began running his father’s business empire when he was only 14-years old.

His father, Hashad Barot, is the chairman and founder of Tirupati Development, a leading real estate company in Uganda.

The family moved to Uganda from a small village in India two decades ago and the young Barot was raised and had his short stint of formal education in Uganda.

The young tycoon considers business to be his calling in life. He revealing that this was the reason he dropped out of school early to nurture his business acumen.

“Business is my life. Right from the start I didn’t want to waste time having realised that I was born to do business and become successful at it. I go about my work passionately,” he says.

The passion for business and the desire to build on what his father had already started took hold in him early. Having successfully run his father’s business empire, Miraj decided to start his own company, Tulip, also dealing in real estate. Tulip has got branches in India. In total, he is a director of eight companies some of which are in India.   He is the Joint Managing Director of Tirupati Development and a shareholder in the same company.

Miraj sees his father as his mentor and business coach, a friend with whom they share ideas from time to time.

“I got all this passion for business from my father. Whenever we would sit down we would talk about business, my father taught me a lot of things, he taught me what some rich fathers wouldn’t teach their children,” he says.

Miraj says he thrives on hard work and taking on new and challenging tasks each day. He says that his life would be incomplete if he did not put in his life’s best in execution of his business tasks.

“Every time I wake up in the morning, I look at myself in the mirror and say that I have to do something, even more than what I did the previous day,” he says.

He keeps a busy schedule; waking up as early as 4a.m. By 6a.m he is i n office, and thereafter heads to the field to inspect various projects and meets various people connected to his many businesses. He says his schedule is occupied by signing contracts, sourcing deals, initiating major projects, planning for the company, all of which leave him with little time for himself. However, he finds time for his family.

He says determination and perseverance are his driving force. Unlike others who would succumb in the face of to failure, he says he has since learnt how to master failure and disappointment given that it is part of business.

“If you have started business and it’s not working out don’t give up, at least you start and fail and discover why you have failed. Many people say business is hard even before they ever started. Start and learn how to go about the failures,” he advises.

Miraj, as a few lucky young people have, would have rode on his family’s success and not done much for himself. However, he argues that people should not look at the current status of the so-called rich people, without considering where they have come from or how their parents started.  He reveals that his father began with only US$ 200 and today their business empire is worth over 1 billion US dollars.

“It’s true that my father worked hard to bring the business to a certain level, but it has been my duty to bring it to greater heights. What I can say is that I was born with a silver spoon and turned it into gold. It’s important to consider how people started and get to learn a few things from their struggle than looking at their current status,” he contends.

Miraj has endeared himself to numerous young people around the city who consider him their icon, one who is humble and generous. His ambition is to initiate more development projects and employed the youth.

About Tirupati

Tirupati has operated in Uganda for five years.  The company boasts a number of shopping malls and classy apartments around the city, offices, warehouses, and business parks. Mazima Mall in Nsambya and Ovino Market are some of Tirupati’s outstanding projects.

Tirupati is also venturing into sugar production starting this January. The company has a sugarcane plantation in Nakasongola stretching over 9,500 acres with a sugar factory in Najjera, Wakiso District. The sugar project, which has cost over US$88 million, is expected to employ over 30,000 Ugandans and produce 2,500 tonnes of sugar per day.

The company is constructing a business park along the Northern Bypass which will consist of 253 warehouses, modern offices, and shopping malls. This project, with a total cost of over US$100 million targets 6,000 Small and Medium size enterprises (SMEs).

Tirupati says its investments in the last five years are worth US$500 million, and the company employs 47,500 Ugandans directly and indirectly.


Car: Range Rover EVOQUE

Food: Indian Cuisines/pizza

Drinks: White wines and Coco-cola

Ideal woman: Beautiful, hardworking from Hindu culture

Memorable moment: When he is with his family

Hangouts: Entebbe Lido beach and friends homes

Famous quote: Success depends on how you behave when you have everything and when you have nothing.

Saturday, 14 January 2012 12:47 By Independent Team
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After the long Christmas holiday when traffic was relatively relaxed, parents, taxis, and school vans are rushing to drop or pick-up children

Late January and early February are usually periods of intense stress for motorists. It comes after the long Christmas holiday when traffic was relatively relaxed because of the absence of school trucks and parents rushing to drop or pick-up children before hurrying back to office. Parents and taxi drivers sleep longer as they do not have to prepare and drop off children to school early. When these frantic activities resume early in the year, they find most motorists mentally unprepared and lead to an increase in incidents of road rage.

Fights erupt over parking spots, motorists lose their way on streets without names, and you are forced off the road by the convoys of an endless stream of VIPs or merely overtaken on a blind curve by a reckless driver. All these cause road rage. It is therefore smart to be prepared for it. The following hints could help you avoid trouble.

  • Prepare yourself mentally by developing a relaxation routine. It could involve setting the tone with calming music; something slow and soothing played at a reasonable volume. Your state of mind is a vital element in stress free safe driving.
  • The first rule to keeping your own stress level down is to allow yourself plenty of time for whatever errands you have.
  • Have a clear route plan and stick to it even when the unusual happens. This involves planning the easiest route to your destination. It involves avoiding traffic snarl ups by studying the traffic patterns along your route and choosing routes and times that avoid them. However, should an unusual event interfere with your route, don’t panic. Remember, ill-considered decisions like choosing a short-cut or detour you usually avoid could lead you an even worse situation.
  • Look out for early warning signs of danger and avoid them by practicing defensive driving. Road rage has largely not been researched in Uganda but in other countries it has been shown by extensive studies that male motorists, especially young men, tend to be more aggressive on the road than women. They speed, jump lights, drink-drive, and generally pose a greater risk to themselves and others on the road. Beware of them.
  • If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation; it could be a minor accident involving you or others, or a minor incident like a car cutting rudely in front of you, or overtaking you and breaking suddenly, remain calm. Ensure you project confidence and control instead of fear and vulnerability even if that is what you feel inside. Be polite and courteous, even when other drivers behave unreasonably. Avoid confrontation. If you are in error, apologise quickly but do not expect the same from other motorists. Instead be ready for rudeness or aggression from other drivers. Always remember that your primary aim is to defuse the situation and get away.

Note the following:

  • If another car pulls up alongside or harasses you, avoid eye contact.
  • If you have to stop, stay in your car with the doors locked and engine running, ready to drive off or reverse away.
  • If situation escalates beyond what you can handle and you have a mobile phone; use it to call the police for help.
  • Memorise the registration number of the other car, its make and colour, and anything you can about the driver’s description.
  • Sometimes, however, it is not you but others who need help.
  • If an argument erupts between other motorists around you, don’t attempt to intervene. It could prove dangerous as some motorists carry guns and are not shy to start a fist-fight. It is safer to call the police.
Friday, 06 January 2012 13:32 By Elizabeth Namakula
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Christmas sounds of nostalgia, choir ethos  and peroxide jazz

What is Christmas without music? The very theme of the season demands it. Kampala during this last season witnessed man’s allegiance to music as it celebrated the sacred.

It started with Afrigo Band’s choice to celebrate its 36th anniversary during the season that brought back reminiscences we had comfortably bid goodbye to.

For all its longevity and notable success, the night of the “leading live band in East and Central Africa” started out as a low-key event thanks to less than enthusiastic promotion. By 8pm, the Serena Victoria hall was just half-full and kept filling up ever so slowly even though the show had been scheduled to start at 6pm. The stage was set brilliantly and the drums, pianos, a saxophone, acoustic and bass guitar, together with the traditional long drums and cymbals were the only encouragement to those waiting for the highly anticipated performance to relive 36 years of Afrigo band. Fortunately, the momentum built up as soon as the actual show started.

Friday, 06 January 2012 13:27 administrator
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The ability to switch on this important skill early in life is a predictor of success

For the last decade or so a band of scholars has been trying to cast off the long-accepted “rational agent” theory of economic behavior—the one that says that people, in their economic lives, behave like calculating robots, making rational decisions when they buy a stock, take out a mortgage, or go to the track. These scholars have offered a trove of evidence that people, far from being the rational agents of textbook lore, are often inconsistent, emotional, and biased. Perhaps tellingly, the pioneers of this field were not economists. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky were Israeli psychologists who noticed that real people often do not make decisions as economists say they do. Tversky died in 1996; six years later, Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for economics.

Friday, 06 January 2012 13:25 By Independent team
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These cameras can be mounted beside or over a road or installed in a vehicle

As I drove upcountry over the festive season, I noticed that taxi drivers are more disciplined on the highway than in the past. They drove slower, hooted less, used less light and hand signals to warn about traffic enforcement points, and appeared more relaxed. I suspect the statics will show fewer taxis were involved in accidents. Buses remain a menace of course. But it got me thinking. Why the change in behavior of taxi drivers? Simple; the speed gun.

The traffic police now have speed guns that indicate the speed at which a vehicle is moving and errant drivers are instantaneously ticketed. There is a spot near Lugazi that is now nicknamed “kitega” or “where they (police) wait” and vehicles typically do 20kph in this 50kph section!

Wednesday, 04 January 2012 09:17 By Achola Rosario
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Acid Jazz- definition: ``Acid jazz is a musical genre that combines elements of jazz, funk and hip-hop, particularly looped beats. It was developed in the UK over the 1980s and 1990s and could be seen as tacking the sound of jazz-funk onto electronic dance: jazz-funk musicians such as Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd and Grant Green are often credited as forerunners of acid jazz. Acid jazz has also experienced minor influences from soul, house, and disco’’.

Although the definition by Wikipedia is pretty comprehensive, nothing can describe the free-flow of inspirational creativity that is acid jazz- especially when it comes from the little but barrel-chested Pragmo’s nimble fingers.



Wednesday, 04 January 2012 09:09 By Hassan Higenyi
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He does what a photographer cannot: conveys how things smelled and sounded as well as how they looked

Christopher Hitchens visited Uganda in 2006 and wrote on Kony’s LRA war in Northern Uganda in his characteristic style an essay called “Childhood’s End: An African Nightmare”. The essay originally appeared in Vanity Fair and it’s included in Arguably, Hitchens’s new voluminous book, which is the fifth – and sadly perhaps last, for he was diagnosed with cancer last year – collection of his recent (1999 – 2011) essays. For those familiar with his works, the essay unmistakably bears all Hitchens’s literary stylistics, except perhaps for one missing common feature, as readers of the essays in this book won’t help noticing: the frequent mention of George Orwell or allusion to his works.


Wednesday, 04 January 2012 08:58 administrator
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2011 car of the year

Some think it is nothing to look at beauty-wise. And for most city dwellers it’s a total nightmare when parking space is a premium. But ask any owner of the Toyota Noah and you will get an endless list of attributes that excite about this eight-seater Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV)/ mini-van.

The Noah is positioned as a C-segment MPV similar to the Toyota Wish, and has since 2001 been competing with the Honda StepWGN and the Nissan Serena in the family car category.

Most buyers love it for its spaciousness, easy handling, and cool interior, ample baggage and storage spaces. It can seat eight people comfortably even for long hauls. For most however, the appeal is in the power and fuel economy.



Tuesday, 03 January 2012 14:07 By Henry Mzili Mujunga
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According to Eric Obonyo, a lanky and self-effacing young painter, This Is Uganda (TIU) is a festival about youthful expression in Uganda. It is a social network linking young people from different parts of the world through culture. He thinks that this year’s festival was better than last year’s, and confesses that the forum has helped upcoming artists by offering them a chance to interact. He also confides that during the festival he was able to take a break from painting portraits and dally around. Who said artists lack inspiration?

The music blaring in the speakers was as inspiring to some, and so was the stream of exuberant visitors milling between the stalls.



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