Special Correspondent

“Overcome the lure of foreign lands”

MUMBAI: The advice of the most successful non-resident Indian businessman, Laxmi Mittal to bright and ambitious Indians like the IITians looking for exciting opportunities abroad is rather paradoxical — he wants them to invest their talent and hard work in India.

“If I were to graduate today, I may have well chosen to stay in India, the country needs to retain a good percentage of its talent and offers exciting and long-term opportunities,” Mr. Mittal told the 45th convocation of IIT Bombay on Friday.

He advised the audience to overcome the lure of foreign lands as the Indian economy was offering equally exciting opportunities.

He hoped that a good percentage of the young Indians would stay home and pointed out that many successful Indian professionals belonging to diverse fields were returning home.

The IIT was a big brand in the Silicon Valley for a large number of IITians worked there and many more opted for it. “It is good news for the United States but bad for India that the IITians head for the Silicon Valley.”

Mr. Mittal never went to a business school but was groomed in his father’s firm and despite joining the family business he started at the bottom, as a post-boy! He might not have become an NRI but for the restrictions that prevailed in the country in 1975 (licence-quota-permit raj). He had gone to the Far-East for a holiday and his father had asked him to dispose of a family-owned piece of land in Indonesia.

“I found that the country was full of opportunities and the Japanese were thriving and telephoned my father that there was no need to sell the land. He started a rolling mill on that land and has not looked back since,” he said.

M.G.K. Menon, Adviser to ISRO, was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. “I am the one who was present at the laying of foundation of the IITB,” he said.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dr. Anil Kakodkar, who also heads the Board of Governors of IIT Bombay, said Mr. Mittal was an icon of the modern Indian generation.

Prof. Ashok Misra, Director of IIT Bombay, said the institution had a special focus on its Ph.D. programme; in 2001-02, it had 771 Ph.D. students and this rose to 1,283 in 06-07.