He became a Member of the House of Lords in July 2010 and is the first Gujarati to represent the Conservative Party in the upper house. From January 2013 to March 2015 he served as a Minister of the Crown with at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Department of Transport. He was Lord-in-Waiting, with the duties of a party whip. He was subsequently appointed as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda in January 2016.
Popat was born on 14 June 1953 at Busolwe and was brought up in Tororo, Uganda. He arrived in the UK in 1971 at the age of 17, a year before the expulsion of many Indians from Uganda. Popat sponsored himself through night school at Kilburn Polytechnic by taking on jobs including working as a dishwasher, waiter, and grill chef at a Wimpy burger bar on Kilburn High Road. He later qualified as an Affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in 1977.
After completing his studies, Popat held a number of positions, including trainee accountant at Rockware Glass and UDT Finance (Barclays). After practising as an accountant in the 1970s, he specialised in business and corporate finance. Popat diversified into the healthcare sector in the late 1980s and the hospitality sector in the late 1990s, securing a master franchise with the Intercontinental Hotel Group for Express by Holiday Inn in the UK.
Popat is an advocate of community cohesion and the importance of reconciling and uniting different cultures under the UK’s central democratic process. Before his elevation to the House of Lords, he was an active supporter of the Conservative Party, acting as a party adviser to help engagement with the British Indian community to the Thatcher and Major governments.
Popat has advocated that the Conservative Party is a union where enterprise, hard work and social responsibility are respected and encouraged, and that these are values which the British Indian community naturally share. He has worked to bridge the gap between the Conservative Party and the British Indian community and believes that the Party and the community will mutually benefit from a deeper and sustained engagement and understanding.
In 2009 Lord Popat was honoured with an award at the Asian Political and Public Life Awards at the House of Commons by the Conservative Party’s then Chairman, Eric Pickles MP, for promoting the Conservative Party in the community. In May, 2010 it was announced that he would be ennobled on the recommendation of David Cameron, for his services to small and medium-sized businesses and to the wider community. He was created a life peer on 10 July 2010 taking the title Lord Popat of Harrow in the London Borough of Harrow, since it was there that his parents lived upon arriving in the UK. On 31 March 2011 he made his maiden speech in the Upper House, contributing to a debate about economic growth.
He was the first Chairman of the Conservative Friends of India, an organisation launched by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron in April 2012. Lord Popat stood down as Chairman for Conservative Friends of India in January 2013, after his appointment as a Government Whip and Lord-in-Waiting. During this time helped to establish a Select Committee, chaired by Lord Cope of Berkeley - examining ways in which the Government can help SMEs to export, and on 6 December he held his first debate in the House of Lords, marking the 40th anniversary of the expulsion of the Ugandan Asians.
Popar was appointed a Government Whip and Minister of the Crown in January 2013, succeeding Viscount Younger of Leckie. Lord Popat was also appointed a Lord-in-Waiting and made the Government Spokesperson in the House of Lords for the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation and the Department for Transport until May 2015.
In February 2013, Lord Popat accompanied the Prime Minister, David Cameron on the British trade delegation to India. In January 2016, he was appointed as the Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda.
Popat is a Hindu. He is a follower of the teachings of Morari Bapu; whom he regards as a Guru and mentor in life. He married Sandhya (now The Lady Popat) on 19 July 1980, with whom he has three sons. He speaks four languages including Gujarati, Hindi, and Swahili, and supports Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
In the charity sector, Popat is on the board of St Luke's Hospice, Harrow and his eponymous Lord Dolar Popat Foundation, which makes contributions to medical and educational institutions.