A business mogul, Lord Swraj Paul was born in 1931 in Jalandhar, Punjab. He was born at the time of India's struggle for freedom led by Mahatma Gandhi, demanding swaraj, literally self-rule for India. Hence the name "Swraj", was given to the new addition to the Paul family Swraj loved living in a joint family with his uncles, aunts and cousins. He loved his mother the most; she was a caring woman who wore no jewellery because she believed her sons were her jewels. She passed away in 1938, when in her thirties, and Swraj became motherless when he was only seven years old.
From a tender age, Swraj was involved in his father's business and learned a lot from his father. Swraj's father was an enterprising businessman, and wanted to break away from the traditional occupation of agriculture. He ran a small but successful unit manufacturing agricultural implements and items of domestic use. In the early 1940s, the World War II had made its presence in India too. Swraj's father capitalized on it, and started manufacturing a range of items, which were in demand because of the war. The business prospered and the family could afford luxuries now. Swraj's father bought a car, which was the first in Jalandhar.
But tragedy struck again in the Paul family. Swraj's uncle, Khemchand, died of a heart attack. Swraj's father, who was deeply attached to his brother, could not bear the loss. Three months later, Paul Senior died, when he was only 55. Young Swraj had lost both his parents. He was just 13. Swraj's elder brothers, Bhaiji and Jit took over the family business, and ensured that his education was not interrupted. Thanks to them, Swraj could finish his studies he graduated at the Punjab University and later moved on to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to complete his master's degree in mechanical engineering.
In 1953, he came back to India and joined his brothers in the company that his father had founded the Apeejay Surrendra Group. His sound education and business training was put to test as he was given large responsibilities to manage. Slowly Swraj and his brothers began to grow the business even bigger than before. They were mainly engaged in steel imports, and eventually made a foray into shipping. In 1956, Swraj married Aruna Vij. They had four children, twin sons - Ambar and Akash, and daughters - Anlali and Ambika. Ambika was born with leukemia, a deadly disease for which there was no cure in India at that time.
In 1966, Swraj and Aruna went to UK hoping to find a cure for Ambika. But he did not succeed. Ambika passed away to the ravages of the deadly disease. Swraj was devastated by his daughter's death, and decided to stay back in UK. He began to concentrate completely on his business. In 1968, he started a business of buying and selling steel products in UK. Soon he bought over a small unit manufacturing steel tubes called Natural Gas Tubes (NGT). Eventually, Swraj developed NGT into one of the leading producers of welded steel tube and spiral welded pipe in the United Kingdom.
Slowly but steadily, he made headway in the steel industry in UK, and his business began to prosper. In time, he acquired more manufacturing units to cater to the rising demand of steel. In 1978, Swraj founded the Caparo Group. Its main interests being the manufacture of steel products. Today, Caparo is a huge corporation comprising small and medium-sized companies, with total revenues exceeding $500 million. Swraj and his family own and control each company in the group, which has now diversified into Hotels, Information Technology and Finance - to name a few.
In 1996, his incredible contribution to society, and the economy was recognized, when Her Majesty the Queen knighted Swraj Paul, thereby making him “The Lord Paul of Marylebone” and a member of the House of Lords. Lord Paul has been honored by various international organizations over the year. He has written the biography of Indira Gandhi and was awarded the Padma Bhushan by her in 1983. Among the honours bestowed on him are the Pro-Chancellorship of the Thames University (1998), the Bharat Gaurav award by the Indian Merchant’s Chamber. But he continues to involve himself as much as he can. He remains a thoroughbred business man and often quotes – “Think lean, act mean, stay keen.”
Swraj is one of the richest persons in the UK, but in his personal life, he practices complete simplicity. He is a strict vegetarian, a teetotaler and a non-smoker.