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Industrialist Swraj Paul marks 50 years of his company Caparo

The event at London Zoo on Sunday saw former prime minister Gordon Brown paying tribute to industrialist Swraj Paul and his contributions to Britain and India-UK relations over the decades.

world Updated: Jul 03, 2018 09:04 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
London, Hindustan Times
Industrialist,Swraj Paul,Caparo
Swraj Paul with his wife Aruna (extreme left), daughter Anjli (extreme right) and grandchildren at the London Zoo before a statue of his late daughter Ambika.(HT Photo)

Joy mixed with sadness as leading politicians, diplomats and friends joined industrialist Swraj Paul to mark 50 years of Caparo, the company he launched in 1968 with a loan of £5,000, and to remember the passing away of his two children, Ambika and Angad.

The event at London Zoo on Sunday saw former prime minister Gordon Brown paying tribute to Paul and his contributions to Britain and India-UK relations over the decades, as the Jalandhar-born industrialist recalled his journey through life and business.

One of the richest persons in Britain, Paul, 87, said that besides celebrating 50 years of Caparo, the day marked 30 years since it expanded into North America and 25 years since his son, Angad, took the company to India. Angad died in 2015 aged 45.

Before Angad led the company to India, Paul recalled the problems he faced there: “I had tried before to start a business there, but had given up fighting an establishment fearful of competition and determined to keep out non-residents.

“So we have all come a very long way since I borrowed £5,000 in 1968 and started looking for somewhere in Britain to open a small steel tube factory…The company I launched – Natural Gas Tubes Limited – quickly became the Caparo Group.”

The company was launched after his daughter, Ambika, died in 1968 aged four. “It is 50 years since Aruna and I decided to remain in England after Ambika’s life was cut so cruelly short,” an emotional Paul said, recalling his daughter’s joy when the family used to visit the zoo.

Known for his proximity to former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Paul, a member of the House of Lords, is considered an influential figure in India-UK relations to the point that he is at times dubbed India’s “higher commissioner” in London.

Brown, who has often attended the annual event at London Zoo, said: “This is a time for people to remember but it’s also a time to celebrate the great relationships between the Paul family and the people who are here today and of course the tremendous links that now exist as a result of their contribution between Britain and India.”

The event was attended by Foreign Office minister Tariq Ahmed, members of the House of Lords, entrepreneurs Karan Bilimoria and Rami Ranger, and Indian diplomats.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 09:01 IST