Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Global Indian. Does the world like him?

The story begins with Lakshmi Metal (sorry Mittal), the Indian born billionaire, steel tycoon and the chief executive of the world’s largest steel maker Mittal Steel, bidding $23 bn (€18.6bn) to acquire his closest rival Arcelor of Europe. Arcelor is the product of a merger four years ago between three steel companies -- Spain's Aceralia, France's Usinor and Luxembourg's Arbed. Luxembourg is the largest single shareholder with a stake of 5.6 percent. France which is a major player in this has expressed serious concerns over this bidding. Other governing bodies including Belgian, German, Italian, Luxembourg and Spanish unions have expressed "unanimous opposition" to the takeover.

While the apprehension over job cuts as the primary concern, Arcelor has strongly criticized Mittal's "hostile" approach, claiming the two firms' businesses and cultural values are incompatible. And although France tries to avoid looking arrogant over Mittal, since that might jeopardize the diplomatic relationship with India, the obvious hint behind the disinclination could be because Mittal is an Indian.

There are two arguments to this issue.

The less significant side: Why is India so keen on this? Why is the Indian government is closely monitoring the issue of Lakshmi Mittal, who operates in 17 countires including Algeria, Bosnia, Germany, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, South Africa and the U.S but nothing as yet in India? When I say “as yet”, am I hoping he would have a set up in India soon? Is it so typically Indian?

But the more significant side: Why is there so much insecurity among the French and the other European counties about a bid? Lakshmi Mittal may be Indian by birth but he has nothing yet to do with India and his company is as European as any other. A lot of questions have been raised about him, his Indian-ness and his way of doing business. Are they worried if this takeover would monopolize the European steel Industry or is it because it’s done by an Indian?

Being Indian, I know it’s very difficult when you just keep thinking of the days when you were on top and doze off in the present (Who better than us to talk of that, we've been and still are talking about how susrutha was the world's first surgeon and how we founded astronomy before they wore clothes in Europe).
Anyways, it’s more apt to say, “Hello World! You may love or hate India, but you just can’t avoid her”.
So wake up Europe and smell the curry. The global Indian has arrived.