Paul?s power party to parade pack - Lord?s tips for Britain

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By AMIT ROY in London
  • Published 19.03.05

London, March 19: Lord Swraj Paul is going to use the occasion of his son?s wedding reception in London on Monday to explain how a resurgent India can help Britain with its ageing population.

If Lakshmi Mittal?s ?30-million Versailles wedding for his daughter Vanisha was the social highlight of 2004, Paul?s reception to celebrate the marriage last October of his youngest son, Angad, 37, to media lawyer, Michelle, will probably rank as the power party of 2005.

Paul has invited 1,600 of his ?friends? from the government, the Opposition, the Lords, the Commons and big business. This is the most lavish party he has given since he first set foot in Britain in 1966.

The reception, at which Anton Mossiman ? one of Britain?s famed chefs ? will do the catering, will be held at Lancaster House, a palace used for government banquets.

By Paul?s side will be his loyal wife, Aruna, who has her birthday on Monday. She was Aruna Vijh when he met her in Calcutta decades ago. ?She has been a great wife,? he said with genuine feeling.

Rather like Father and Mother Wolf, who put Mowgli and the baby wolves on the council rock in The Jungle Book so that the rest of the pack could come and see, the Pauls will be presenting their children and their children?s children to Britain?s ruling establishment.

?We will all be there,? said Paul.

It will be a glowing testament to the strength of the Indian family system, which has survived the hazardous journey across the black waters.

Present will be their three sons, twins Ambar and Akash, 47, Angad, daughter Anjali, 45, and their families, including the Pauls? six grandchildren. His ?greatest wish? is for the third generation to go into Caparo and expand the dynasty that he has set up.

?It?s not a Swraj Paul show,? insisted Paul. ?It?s really Swraj Paul saying the next generation is kicking.?

Paul reckons that if Indo-British relations are at their peak, he has made a contribution, first as ?roving ambassador for the UK?, and, secondly, as chairman of the Indo-British Round Table, a position he has just given up after five years.

Without being rude to the Tories, who have made control of immigration a major election issue under Michael Howard, Paul, a Labour peer, believes that Britain?s long-term salvation might lie in closer collaboration with India and a steady supply of skilled professionals from India.

?Britain is bound to run short of working and skilled people because the age profile is such that we (in the UK) are running out of young people,? he said in an exclusive interview. ?India is the only country, even bigger than China, to be able to supply that because China with its (one-child) population policy is going to run out of young people in 20 years.?

He explained: ?So India?s problem is going to become a huge asset. That is where the two countries can help each other. We discussed this in the Indo-British Round Table only last month.?

However, with only weeks to the expected general election on May 5, both the Labour and the Tories say they will do more to keep immigrants out.

Lord Paul was dismissive. ?The debate about immigration tends to be political rather than economic.?

He wants more Indian companies to invest in Britain. ?About 500 Indian companies have come in the last three to four years to invest in Britain.?

His own company, Caparo, now employs 4,500 people worldwide, including over 3,000 in Britain. He has plants in the Midlands in the UK, in the US and Canada and ?we are simultaneously building six new plants in India at the moment?.

Five years ago, when steel was down, Caparo would have been valued at between ?250 million and ?300 million. ?Today, if somebody made me an offer of ?1 billion, I wouldn?t sell,? remarked Paul.

He revealed: ?I recently gave five crores of rupees to set up a school of excellence in India. India has the potential. Globalisation is going ahead. People in India have started enjoying globalisation. We are very bullish about India at the moment.?

Discussing practical ways in which India could help Britain, a country with a declining manufacturing base, Paul revealed: ?We are setting up a research and design centre where we will do design for our Indian plants and for Britain and the rest of the world.?

The centre would be located in either Bangalore or Chennai.