Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has donated $ 25 million to the prestigious Harvard University with an aim to increase engagement with South Asian countries, including India.
The donation will establish an endowed fund for the South Asia Institute at the university.
The institute spearheads Harvard’s engagement with South Asian countries, including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as diaspora populations from these countries, the university said in a statement.
As a result of the endowment from the Mittal Foundation, Harvard’s South Asia Institute would be called as Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University, it said.
Founded in 2003, the South Asia Initiative became a University-wide interdisciplinary institute in 2010 under the leadership of its current faculty director, Indian-American Tarun Khanna, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School.
“We are so grateful for the Mittal family’s support and what it will enable us to learn and share - across the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities - and the many people and institutions it will allow us to engage,” said Khanna.
“International centers like the South Asia Institute at Harvard University serve as a vital conduit between the University and the world we study,” said Harvard President Drew Faust.
“The generous support from the Mittal family is a testament to both the important work being done by this community of scholars and students and the continuing impact it will have in the region,” Faust added.
South Asia has played a dynamic and influential role in the development of our world since the very first civilisations, said 67-year-old Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company.
“Ensuring that we fully understand its history and unique dynamics is a critical enabler in helping to shape a successful future,” he added.
As someone who was born in India, the long-term prosperity of India and its neighbouring countries “matters a great deal to me and my family,” Mittal told Harvard Gazette in an interview.
“Harvard is one of the world’s greatest learning institutions, with a unique ability to facilitate dialogue and drive thinking and progress,” he said.
The Mittal family has long supported educational endeavours and public policy development in India as a means of positioning the country - and the region - for future success, the university said.
Also known as the ‘Iron Man of Calcutta’, Lakshmi Mittal is the Indian steel mogul who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ArcelorMittal, the biggest steel producing company of the world. In 2011, Mittal was ranked 6th amongst the world’s richest people by Forbes. He is also number 47th on the Forbes list of ‘most powerful individuals’.
Lakshmi Mittal was born on 15th June 1950 in the Churu district in Rajasthan, India to a business family. He studied in St. Xavier’s College and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. After that he joined his father’s steel business named ‘Nippon Denro Ispat’ where he was responsible of the international development. He founded his own company by the name of ‘Mittal Steel’ in 1976. Since then he has been in charge for the expansion of the business. In the early 90s the steel magnate bought failing or weakened companies and saved them. Mittal steel is currently a worldwide steel producer that operates in 14 countries. He also established the growth of incorporated mini-mills and use of DRI (direct integrated iron) as an ancillary for making steel. With shipments of 42.1 million tons steel and profits of more than 22 billion dollars (2004), Mittal Steel is by far the largest steelmaker of the world. Mittal has also been part of some controversies and allegations such as the Mittal Affair and slave labor, environmental damage and dubious safety records.
Mittal is a generous philanthropist and part of many trusts. He has the membership of the Foreign Investment Council (Kazakhstan), the International Investment Council of the World Economic Forum, the International Investment Council (South Africa) and the International Iron and Steel Institute Executive Committee. Along with this he holds the post of director of the ICICI Bank Limited and is also on the advisory board of the ‘Kellogg School of Management’ in the U.S. Lakshmi Mittal has received several awards and honors including the ‘Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2008, the ‘Padma Vibhushan’ from the Government of India in 2008, the ‘Grand Cross of Civil Merit’ from the Government of Spain in 2007, the ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Leadership Award’ from the Business Council for International Understanding in 2007. He was Forbes ‘European Businessman of the Year’ in 2004. Wall Street Journal termed him ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2004 and the same year he was given the ‘8th Honorary Willy Korf Steel Vision Award’ from the American Metal Market and World Steel Dynamics.
Mittal lives a very lavish lifestyle. His daughter’s wedding that was celebrated in France is the world’s second most expensive wedding costing 55 million Euros. In 2004, he bought his residence from the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone for £57 million and at the time was the most expensive house of the world. He owns several other properties including a colonial bungalow in New Delhi ($30 million) and three other properties in Kensington Palace, Gardens, worth £500 million.
The Sunday Times ‘Business Person of the Year’ in 2006, Financial Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ and Time magazine’s International Newsmaker of the Year 2006’ and one of the ‘100 most influential persons in the world’, Lakshmi Mittal certainly has an exemplary life for those who wish to achieve success in their lives.