Sunday, November 6, 2011

Swraj Paul

Swraj Paul, Baron Paul, PC (born 18 February 1931) is an Indian-born, British-based business magnate, philanthropist, and Labour politician. In 1996 he became a life peer, sitting in the House of Lords with the title Baron Paul, of Marylebone in the City of Westminster. In December 2008 he was appointed deputy speaker of the Lords; in October 2009 he was appointed to the Privy Council; shortly thereafter he was required to step down from the former position due to allegations of financial impropriety, in the context of the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal, and was eventually censured by the Committee for Privileges and Conduct. He is close to Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah.

Early Life
According to his official biography, Swraj Paul was born in Jalandhar, Punjab in 1931. His father ran a small foundry, making steel buckets and farming equipment. Paul was educated at Forman Christian College in Lahore and later obtained a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

Business Career
He worked for the Apeejay Group in India, which was being managed by his elder brother Stya Paul. He took over the operations of Apeejay Overseas.

In 1966 he relocated to the United Kingdom to get medical treatment for his young daughter, who had leukemia. He spent a year getting over her death, after which he founded Natural Gas Tubes From acquiring one steel unit, he went on to acquire more and founded the Caparo Group in 1968, which developed into one of the leading producers of welded steel tube and spiral welded pipe in the United Kingdom. He stepped down from the management of the Caparo Group in 1996; his youngest son Angad became CEO.

Lord Paul is on the Sunday Times Rich List as the 88th richest person in Britain, although he claims to take public transport in London "like everybody else". Since the 1960s he has lived in Portland Place, opposite the BBC's Broadcasting House in central London. He and his family own a dozen flats in the block, each one worth close to a million pounds. He also has a 250-acre (1.0 km2) country estate, The Grange, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Public Role
Lord Paul held the pro-chancellorship of Thames Valley University (1998) and its governorship (1992–97). He has been the chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton since 1998[8] and of the University of Westminster, to which his family trust has given £300,000.

He was a member of the Foreign Policy Centre Advisory Council and MIT's Mechanical Engineering Visiting Committee. He was the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Committee, a sub group of the London Development Agency. He contested for the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), with an agenda to reduce the gap between the West and the East.

He was the first person of Indian origin to hold the post of deputy speaker of the House of Lords, one of twelve people in that post. He was sworn of the Privy Council on 15 October 2009.

Through the Ambika Paul Foundation, which Paul set up in memory of his daughter, profits from Caparo are channelled into charitable endeavours For example, Paul is an honorary patron of the Zoological Society of London and has funded major projects at the Regent's Park site, including its children's zoo.

He has donated £500 000 to the Labour Party, and is a strong backer of Gordon Brown, being the largest donor to his leadership campaign and offering in 2007 to give "as much as [he] can afford" in the case of an early election. He is also close to the former UK Prime Minister's wife, Sarah Brown, for whom he shows paternal concern.

Awards and Honours
Lord Paul has received various awards and honours. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, in 1983 and the Bharat Gaurav award by the Indian Merchants' Chamber. In Britain he was given the Asian Woman Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

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