There are several people of Indian origin in the United Kingdom, who came into British society from many walks of life, some have made the British Isles their home, taking up different vocations, while some remain NRIs. They range from shopkeepers to academicians, chefs to industrialists, actors and actresses to sportsmen, and literateurs to traders and politicians, amongst others. We make an effort in this piece to feature a random crosssection of people of Indian origin, who have adopted the host country of Great Britan for their domicile. And we aim to continue with such mini-profiles in future editions as well, so do look for them …
Deciding to spend 100 million pounds sterling on a mansion that should symbolize the power and wealth of the family, the Hindujas have ensured that their name be put among Britain’s finest society. The location of their latest house, a few steps away from the Buckingham Palace, gives the billionaire NRI family the status of neighbors to Queen Elizabeth II. It took the Hinduja brothers (worth UK£ 6 Billion) five years and £40 – £50 million to restore the four properties that serve as the base for this mansion. This is apart from spending £58 million on buying the derelict property. Right across the street, the Queen of the United Kingdom has her residence. This particular residence that the Hin duja brothers have bought is the largest Grade-1 home in London, being now the home of Srichand, Gopichand, Ashok and Prakash Hinduja. The Buckingham Palace is not the only famous residence in their surroundings. There is also the St. James Palace. Located on Carlton Terrace, the mansion is built over six floors, comprises 50 rooms and it was originally built for King George IV back in the 1820s. The rooms will be grouped up to form 4 apartments for each of the brothers, and, covering an area of 70,000 sq ft, it’s more than enough. The mansion also boasts a private cinema, swimming pool, dining room with a huge glass central table that may accommodate up to 30 people. English Heritage supervised the renovation of the huge home, adding solid marble floors, Honduran mahogany paneling and Italian chandeliers. And it’s truly a great place to live in.
The four Hinduja brothers today manage the world-girdling conglomerate known as the Hinduja Group, the saga of which began in Sind, the cradle of the Indus Valley Civilisation, where more than 5,000 years ago the human race learnt its first lessons in organised business and banking. Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja, a young entrepreneur from the town of Shikarpur, realised early in life that business was all about spotting opportunities, and seizing them wherever they surfaced. He travelled first to Mumbai in 1914, and quickly learnt the ropes of business. He set up the company’s first international operation in Iran in 1919, dubbing Hindi films into the Persian language. The headquarters of the group moved to Iran where it remained until 1979, when the Islamic Revolution forced it to move to Europe. Srichand Hinduja and his brother Gopichand moved to London in 1979 to develop the export business; Prakash manages the group’s finances in Geneva, Switzerland while the youngest brother, Ashok, oversees the Indian interests. The brothers are all conservative, vegetarian and teetotallers, and dress in similar ways, with a preference for black suits and round glasses. Though Merchant Banking and Trade were the twin pillars of the business, the Group has since expanded and diversified its businesses, with significant social and charitable contributions, under the present leadership of Parmanand’s eldest son Srichand, Chairman of the group, ably supported by his brothers, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok. Today, the Hinduja Group has become one of the largest diversified groups in the world spanning all continents. The Group employs over 70,000 people and has offices in many key cities of the world and all the major cities in India. The Hinduja Family has always adapted to free-market reforms moving quickly in new markets that have opened, and capitalising on new economy opportunities. As a result, the Hin duja Group has now strategically positioned itself to contribute to old economy sectors such as Banking & Finance, Transport, Energy (Oil & Power) as well as the new economy of Technology, Media and Telecom.
Speaking of sprawling mansions, London’s leafy Kensington Palace Gardens – home to Indian-born steel tycoon Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, is said to be the world’s second-mostexpensive street. The Chairman and CEO of Arcelor-Mittal owns house numbers 9a and 18-19 on this tree-lined street. Mittal ranks among the richest in the world, with an estimated net-worth of US$ 16.71 billion. As the head of Arcelor-Mittal, he is employer to hundreds of thousands of people in more than 60 countries, and is a member of a number of powerful boards, including Goldman Sachs and European Aeronautic Defense. He’s also part of the World Steel Association’s Executive Committee, and so he has eyes — and hands — everywhere. The 63 year old tycoon, born in Sadulpur, Rajasthan, says what he does is more important than the money he makes. Mittal is now intent on making his company both responsible and profitable after the beating the world economy took due to a global economic downturn. To recap a bit, Mittal was the richest man of Asian descent in the United Kingdom in 2007, but despite this, he still does not hold a British citizenship. He was ranked the sixth richest person in the world by Forbes in 2011, but dropped to 21st place in 2012, due to having lost US$ 10.4 billion the previous year. In spite of the drop, Forbes estimated that he still had a personal wealth of US$ 16 billion in October 2013. He is also the 47th “most powerful person” of the 70 individuals named in Forbes’ “Most Powerful People” list for 2012. His daughter Vanisha Mittal’s wedding was the second most expensive in recorded history.
Lakshmi Niwas Mittal was born into an Indian Hindu Rajasthani Agarwal business family in Rajgarh tehsil (also known as Sadulpur) of Churu district in Rajasthan, India. His family moved from (Rajgarh) Sadulpur, Rajasthan to Calcutta in West Bengal. Mittal has three siblings — Pramod and Vinod Mittal and a sister Seema Lohia (wife of Sri Prakash Lohia of Indo Rama). He studied at Shri Daulatram Nopany Vidyalaya from 1957 to 1964, and graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta, with a B.Com degree from the University of Calcutta. His father, Mohan Lal Mittal, ran a steel business, ‘Nippon Denro Ispat.’ In 1976, due to the curb of steel production by Indian government, the 26 year old Mittal opened his first steel factory PT Ispat Indo in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia. Until the 1990s, the family’s main assets in India were a cold-rolling mill for sheet steels in Nagpur, and an alloy steels plant near Pune. Today, the family business, including a large integrated steel plant near Mumbai, is run by Pramod and Vinod, but Lakshmi has no connection with it.
Born in Mumbai, he could have been just a very good Electrical Engineer. But Kapoor chose to ditch that career choice for a stint in the Hornsey College of Art and later at the Chelsea School of Art and Design in the UK. Net result ? Electrical Engineering’s loss became the art world’s gain. He represented Britain in the XLIV Venice Biennale in 1990, and bagged the Premio Duemila Prize. In 1991 he received the Turner Prize and in 2002 received the Unilever Commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. His most notable public sculptures include Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park; the Sky Mirror exhibited at the Rockefeller Center in New York City in 2006 and Kensington Gardens in London in 2010; Temenos at Middlehaven, Middlesbrough; Leviathan at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2011; and ArcelorMittal Orbit, commissioned as a permanent artwork for London’s Olympic Park and completed in 2012. The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture in the heart of the 2012 Olympic Park, a 115 metre spiral sculpture that is today the largest (and the most expensive) work of public art in British history. Kapoor received a Knighthood in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to visual arts, and has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Oxford in 2014.
In late 2010, Kapoor returned to his roots with his first major showing in India, with retrospective exhibitions at the NGMA in Delhi and Mehboob Studio in Mumbai. He has campaigned vociferously on behalf of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was imprisoned in April 2012 for what the Chinese government called ‘suspected economic crimes.’ Kapoor proposed a one-day closure of Art Galleries and Museums worldwide as a protest saying, “I feel that as artists we have a communal voice, and it is important that we stick together.” Ai Weiwei, apropos, is one of China’s most prolific and provocative contemporary artists. As of 2014, though released from prison, the dissident artist still remains under surveillance and his movements restricted, but continues to articulate his thoughts through his work.
This 25 year old from Leeds is one of the few professional female English professional golfers. When she started out with golf, she cut a striking figure on the course but for one reason – she was outstanding at the game. This is the girl who, as part of Team Faldo, destroyed the opposition in the highly acclaimed 2004 Faldo Series by beating her nearest rival by 11 shots. She even registered a two-round final score which beat the Under-18 and Under-21 boys, all at the age of 15. Not at all bad for a girl who started playing golf by “accident”. She told BBC Sport: “When I was about 12, I went to the golf course with my dad and was just watching him hit balls on the range. KIRAN MATHARU So I had a go with his clubs.
Then a professional walked passed and told my dad that I had a natural swing. It was the first time I had tried golf. I wasn’t really interested in it before. Now I think it’s great.” Revealingly, Matharu admitted then that she probably wouldn’t be playing any other sport if she didn’t play golf. And even as a teenager, she was aware of the issues facing British Asian girls, but did not really know where the answers lay. She said: “I’m proud to be the only Asian girl playing but I don’t know why other Asian girls don’t play. None of them play sport really, it’s a bit of a problem.” Matharu’s golf success and her story does make it a very enjoyable accident indeed.
Sir Ben Kingsley, CBE, was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji, on the 31st of December 1943. He is a British actor, with a long career spanning over 40 years. He has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards. He is known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in Attenborough’s 1982 film “Gandhi,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He is also known for his performances in the films Schindler’s List (1993), Sexy Beast (2000), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Shutter Island (2010), Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time (2010), Hugo (2011), and Iron Man 3 (2013). In 2013 he received the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles ‘Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment’. Kingsley was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000, and was made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. In 2010, Kingsley was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Kingsley was born in Snainton, North Riding of Yorkshire. He is the son of Anna Lyna Mary, an actress and model who appeared in films in the 1920s and 1930s, and Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, a medical doctor. Kingsley’s father, born in Kenya, was of Gujarati Indian Ismaili Muslim Khoja descent. Kingsley’s paternal grandfather was a spice trader who had moved from India to Zanzibar, where Kingsley’s father lived until moving to Britain at the age of 14.
V S NAIPAUL
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, born 17 August 1932, is a Trinidad-born Nobel Prize-winning British writer known for his comic early novels set in Trinidad, his bleaker later novels of the wider world, and his autobiographical chronicles of life and travels. Naipaul has published more than 30 books, both of fiction and nonfiction, over some 50 years. Born in Chaguanas on the island of Trinidad, the larger of the two islands in the British crown colony of Trinidad & Tobago, he was the second child and first son born to mother Droapatie (née Capildeo) and father Seepersad Naipaul. In the 1880s, his grandparents had emigrated from India to work as indentured labourers in Trinidad’s sugar plantations. In the largely peasant Indian immigrant community in Trinidad, Naipaul’s father became an English-language journalist. In “A prologue to an autobiography” (1983), Naipaul describes how his father’s reverence for writers and for the writing life spawned his own dreams and aspirations to become a writer.