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Newsletter. Issue 2008-26. December 20, 2008

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Lord Swaraj Paul is Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords
Press Trust of India
Wednesday, December 10, 2008 (London)

Leading NRI entrepreneur Lord Swaraj Paul has scripted history by becoming the first Asian deputy speaker of the British House of Lords. Though people of Indian origin have held ministerial berths in the British cabinet, this is the first time an Indian has been appointed to such a high position in UK's Parliament.

"I am honoured," said Lord Paul in his reaction to the announcement. He said it was an honour "for a person who comes from a freedom fighters' family from India. In fact, my name Swraj was given because this was a slogan of Mahatma Gandhi - We want Swaraj (freedom)," Lord Paul, founder of multinational national company Caparo, told a news agency on Tuesday night.

"It speaks a great deal about British and the British system of democracy and is also a tribute to the country of my origin (India). I am looking forward to serving the Parliament," he said.

The Speaker or Deputy Speaker preside over the house of Lords session, sitting on the Woolsack, a large red seat stuffed with wool, at the front of the Lords Chamber. Conferred the Peerage in 1996 and honoured with the Padma Bhushan by President of India in 1983, 77-year-old Lord Paul is one of the most famous Indian origin entrepreneurs based in Britain.

He is the founder of the multinational company Caparo, the UK-based steel and engineering group, with an annual turnover of 1.5 billion pounds. Lord Paul was born in Jalandhar in 1931. His father ran a small foundry, which made steel buckets and farming equipment. Paul graduated from the Punjab University and subsequently obtained a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. After his return to India, Paul joined the Apeejay Group, which his father had founded.

Destiny brought him to London in 1966 in search of treatment for his daughter Ambika, who was suffering from leukemia and after her untimely death, he stayed on. Lord Paul started his business in Britain in 1968. After acquiring one steel unit, he went on to acquire more units and founded the Caparo group in the year 1978. Caparo developed into one of the leading producers of welded steel tube and spiral-welded pipe in the UK.

In 1996, Lord Paul stepped down from the management of the Caparo group and handed over the reins to his three sons. Lord Paul has won several honours and awards. He wrote the biography of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and later he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1983.

Currently British Ambassador for Overseas Business, Lord Paul is Chancellor of two universities -- the University of Westminster and the University of Wolverhampton. A philanthropist, Lord Paul donated one million pounds to the London Zoo to save it from closure in 1993. Lord Paul was also appointed as Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Committee with the key task of providing infrastructure for the London Olympics 2012.


97% Indian kids will go to school by 2015: UNESCO
Thursday November 27 2008

NEW DELHI - India is on track to achieve net enrollment rate (NER) of more than 97 per cent by 2015, the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report of the Unesco released said.

"Of the 17 countries with most children out of school, just three- Bangladesh, Brazil and India- are on track to achieve NER in excess of 97 per cent by 2015," the report said. As per the global educational and cultural body, India had 7.2 million out-of-school children in 2006 and it will be reduced to just 600,000 in 2015.

The enrolment in secondary education in India has increased from 39 percent in 1999 to 43 per cent in 2006. With 7.6 million out-of-school children, Nigeria will be worst off, followed by Pakistan (3.7 million), Burkina Faso and Ethiopia with 1.1 million are at joint third spot. In terms of absolute numbers, 80 percent of adult illiterates worldwide live only in 20 countries- 50 per cent of them live in India, China and Bangladesh.

The report also emphasises that with the share of government expenditure on education dropping between 1999 and 2006 in 40 countries including India, low fee private primary schools were filling the slot.

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