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Lakshmi and Aditya Mittal


LAKSHMI MITTAL was allocated a prestigious spot to stand, right next to the Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, when the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi consecrated the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya on January 22. There was a pecking order among the 8,000 top industrialists, sports and film stars, politicians and other celebrities invited to the historic ceremony. Afterwards, Modi passed down the front line with folded hands greeting favoured guests, among them Mittal who had come with his wife, Usha. The executive chairman of ArcelorMittal, one of the few Indians to be invited from abroad, was dressed appropriately in a white kurta with a fetching dark red waistcoat. It is fair to say that Mittal normally “doesn’t do God”, as was once memorably said of Tony Blair, when the Labour prime minister was prevented from talking about his faith by Alastair Campbell, his then director of communications and strategy at 10, Downing Street. It is easy to understand why Mittal would not want to inaugurate a steel plant by smashing a coconut, displaying marigolds and putting up an “Om” symbol. ArcelorMittal, which describes itself as “the world’s largest steel and mining company”, undertakes manufacturing in 16 countries with many religions, has customers in 155 countries, has over 150,000 employees, produces 59 million tonnes of crude steel and mines 45 million tonnes of iron ore. While Mittal has kept his faith private, his father, Mohan Lal Mittal – he turned 97 last October – has been almost evangelical in his approach to Hinduism. He also passed on his business acumen to his son. Lakshmi Niwas Mittal was born in Sadulpur in the desert kingdom of Rajasthan on June 15, 1950. Like so many others from the Marwari community, which is known for its business skills, Mohan Lal moved to Calcutta.

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