NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has been conferred with the prestigious 'Punjab Ratan' (Jewel of Punjab) award in recognition of his achievements in fields like business, politics and public service.
Lord Paul, the Chairman of the 1.5-billion-pound Caparo Group, was awarded by the the World Punjabi Organisation, European Division, last night.
The trophy was presented to the 77-year-old industrialist and parliamentarian by Lord Navnit Dholakia, Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, at a glittering ceremony at the Park Lane hotel in Piccadilly, central London.
"I am overwhelmed to receive this. It is a surprise. It is also a proud moment when you are being honoured by your community. There is nothing better. I am truly grateful to all of you for giving me this honour," an emotional Lord Paul, best known for his one million pound donation to save the London Zoo in 1993, said receiving the trophy.
Besides his wife Lady Aruna Paul, his brother Jit Paul, an educationist who had specially come from India, was present on the occasion.
About the current global economic turmoil, Lord Paul, British Ambassador for Overseas Business and Chairman of Westminster and Wolverhampton Universities, said: "It is unprecedented crisis and nobody knows how to deal with it.
"Fortunately, we have a Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) who has the longest experience having been a successful Chancellor for 10 years and being respected by all world leaders.
"He is working full time because it is an international problem requiring global solution. We are fortunate that in this all three political parties (in Britain) support him," Lord Paul said. (More)
The World Punjabi Organisation (WPO), European Division, conferred the award on Lord Paul for his achievements in business, politics, public service, academia and philanthropy.
Bollywood legend Dev Anand was the recipient of the maiden award last year for his contributions in the field of Art and Entertainment.
Reading the citation, R S Baxi, President of the World Punjabi Organisation, European Division, said: "Winner of this year's award is a very special person, who became one of the first Asians to lead as Captain of Industry, having founded his company in 1968, followed by growth achieved through development of several Greenfield start-up projects and a series of acquisitions and turning around existing businesses.
"His group now has an annual turnover of more than 1.5 billion pounds and employs some 6,000 people, with business interests in the manufacture of steel, automotive and general engineering products. The group's wider activities include materials testing services, hotels, film distribution and private equity investment."
Describing Lord Paul as an elder statesman, Lord Dholakia said: "I hold him in high esteem for the remarkable contribution he is making to the society as a whole."
Noting that Lord Paul is one of the world's leading industrialists today, Shailesh Vara, Chairman of the Conservative Friends of India, said: "Today in Lord Paul, you have a proud and worthy recipient of the award.
"He is well known not only in Britain and India but in the whole world. He is one of the world's leading industrialists known for his enormous generosity and tremendous amount of good he has done."
Lord Paul was awarded the 'Padma Bhushan' by the government of India in 1983.