OUR BUREAU July 7: The seeds of Lakshmi Niwas Mittal's success as a steel baron were probably sown during his days as a student of St. Xavier's College, Calcutta.
The chairman and chief executive officer of Arcelor- Mittal acknowledged the contribution of his alma mater at the inauguration of St. Xavier's University in Rajarhat today.
"I have always seen opportunity in challenge and that started at St. Xavier's. The education that I got also taught me to take bold decisions," said Mittal, who left India in 1976 with a few trusted lieutenants to set up a steel mill in Indonesia, much before globalisation became a buzzword among India Inc.
"Back then it was a huge decision.
To leave my home, my family, to live in a foreign country with my wife and my baby son, Aditya. St. Xavier's gave me a grounding, and quest for adventure that I may not have got elsewhere," Mittal said.
Today, the boy from Churu district of Rajasthan who grew up in Calcutta is head of a business empire spread across 60 countries and with 200,000 employees.
Sharing the dais with the industrialist today were chief minister Mamata Banerjee, higher education minister Partha Chatterjee, St. Xavier's University chancellor Jeyaraj Veluswamy and vice- chancellor Father Felix Raj. In the audience was Mittal's father, Mohan Lal.
After Mittal's passionate call to students with an " entrepreneurial streak" to transform the world, the chief minister took the stage. " I believe this university will prove itself to be number one in future. I believe in dreams - without dreams one cannot afford to survive," Mamata said.
It was she who had, in 2012, urged the college to become a full- fledged university. The next year, she allotted 17 acres of land and unveiled the foundation stone of the Rajarhat campus.
The chief minister reiterated her promise of a Rs 7crore grant every year for the fledgling university.
Mamata also had words of praise for minority institutions.
" I feel people are known by the education they receive; education makes one a real human being. Minority institutions have a very vital and important role. Christian institutions, Ramakrishna Mission are known for the quality of learning and education they impart. All missionary schools and colleges, including St. Xavier's, provide good education.
We are for all those who believe in human values," she said. " I believe, in three- four years, St. Xavier's will be able to compete with institutions such as Harvard and Oxford." St. Xavier's University vice-chancellor Father Felix Raj, praised by Mittal for his untiring efforts in making the dream a reality, said: " This is a moment of sentiment, a moment of emotion. Vision 2020 has been a long journey. It all began in 2011 and it has taken us down the main road and side roads and bylanes but we've had loyal and dedicated fellow travellers and the journey has been pleasant and fruitful. Let St. Xavier's be the DNA that will carry the genetic code as students go out to serve the world." Jeyaraj Veluswamy, the chancellor of the university, set the tone for the hour- long programme by welcoming the first batch of students. " This is a historic day for all of us.... Education for us is a mission to continue forming generations of Xaverians into men and women for others. Dear students, you are the privileged first batch of St. Xavier's University and I want to welcome you and wish you all rich experiences of learning and growth."