I am a winner: Swraj Paul
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I am a winner: Swraj Paul

London-based industrialist Swraj Paul talks about his professional pursuits, his asectic ways and life as an Indian on the colonial land.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 13:16 IST

A quarter century ago he shook India's industrial establishment with his failed bid to take over two leading companies, but Swraj Paul today regards that as his "greatest service" to the country of his birth.

Having just celebrated his 75th birthday, the Jalandhar-born industrialist looks back at his life and times, marked as these have been by tragedy and glory.

The tragic death of his young daughter, his enormous business success, his battles with captains of Indian industry, his association with Indira Gandhi and his rise in the British establishment are events he recalls.

Lord Paul has bitter-sweet memories of his unsuccessful bid to take over DCM and Escorts in the early 1980's. "I lost money, I suffered a lot of pain but I think history one day will mark it as the greatest service I did to India. If any time somebody writes a truthful history of India's progress, my contribution would be recorded in golden words," he says.

"I fought for the rights of the common man, the shareholders. People with two or three per cent shareholding were going about as owners of companies. The shareholder had no say. I am happy that India has come a long way and changed a lot. I have contributed to that," says Paul.

Today his Caparo group is excited about its foray into India where it hopes to have a turnover of around Rs 1,000 crore within the next two years, largely from auto ancillary units.

Chairman of 1.25 billion dollar Caparo group, the largest family-owned company in Britain, Paul says that he is lucky that his children have taken over his responsibilities in running the business. He himself is busy as a member of the House of Lords, the London Developmental Agency, London Olympics work, Chancellor of a University and his charities.

Describing 75th birthday as landmark in any person's life, Paul nevertheless says it did not signify retirement. "It means I am not pressed into doing things which I do not have to do. I get glory without doing any work," he chuckles.

No, no, it did not mean that he was going to walk quitely into the sunset. "In 1968, I took sanyas (after the death of his daughter Ambika). I did not find long term satisfaction in that but it gave me strength to come back to work. I will take sanyas again if someone convinces me that it will make me a much happier person," he says.

He has nothing but admiration for Indira Gandhi whom he describes as the "greatest politician". She made him believe never to loose courage and "for that I will ever be grateful to her".

How does he feel to be in the heart of the British establishment? "Fortunately I have come a long way. It is nice to feel now that it was very easy. The nice thing about it is that I achieved it. It does not matter anymore."

A British minister once described Paul as an Indo-British joint venture. Does he regard himself as such?

Laughing, Paul said, "I am very positive on that statement for the simple reason that I have been able to create very strong links and understanding between India and Britain. I would like that to be my legacy."

He goes on to add, "Swraj Paul is 100 per cent British and 100 per cent Indian. I am proud of both. When the English cricket team plays India I am happy irrespective of who wins. I am the winner."

On being asked whether he is satisfied with his professional pursuits and does he think he has achieved his goal, he said, "God has given me more than what I have deserved, more than what I wanted. I am a God fearing man. I do believe more than ever that there is an upper hand in destiny," he says.

Has he ever thought of returning to live in the country of his birth?. "I have never thought that I have gone out of India. But if I am to lead a completely retired life, I will make India my base," he said.

First Published: Apr 06, 2006 13:16 IST