Describing the late Indira Gandhi as the "greatest Prime Minister" India ever had, NRI industrialist and one of Britain's wealthiest Lord Swraj Paul said credit for opening up the Indian economy goes to her.
"In India, people forget. It was the late Indira Gandhi who wanted to open the economy, not anybody else. In my view, she was the greatest Prime Minister India has had until on Friday. The credit for opening the economy or planting the seed for that goes to late Mrs Gandhi," he said in an interview with the Arabic edition of Knowledge@Wharton website.
He said that Gandhi started in a more cautious way and wanted Non-Resident Indians to show interest in their homeland.
"Up until that time Indians and the Indian government treated Non-Resident Indians as if they came from the moon. They did not want to have anything to do with them," he said.
Paul, 79, who had made takeover bids on Escorts and DCM in the 1980s, said that he also deserves credit for forcing the Indian economy to change.
"Nobody should get the credit for forcing India's economy to change except Swraj Paul (alluding to his acquisitions in the 1980s). But Indians are very poor at giving credit. They only know how to praise the government in power irrespective of the power, irrespective of the government. They will only give credit to them," he said.
Paul, who had maintained that there was no transparency about the way Indian corporates were run, said that things have improved and he too had a role in bringing about the change.
"India is still not as transparent as one would like it to be, but it is certainly far more transparent now and I do think I deserve some credit for that," he added.
The founder of steel-to-hotels Euro one billion Caparo Group said he bought shares of Escorts and DCM when he found that Rajan Nanda (of Escorts) and Bharat Ram (of DCM) went "around the world asking people to invest in their companies".
Nanda had less than 5 per cent of Escorts and Ram less than 10 per cent in DCM. "I ended up buying 7.5 per cent of Escorts and 13 per cent of DCM, so I held more shares than them".
Paul, the first Asian to be appointed Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament in 2008, could not gain control of the Escorts and DCM in the 1980s but brought about takeover battles in India Inc.
He said his takeover attempt on the two Indian companies revealed abuse of balancesheets by the promoters.
"If you studied their balance sheets, there was so much of abuse the promoters felt threatened and tried to stop me," Paul recalled, and added that they even went to the Prime Minister and "to other politicians etc and I ended up losing money."