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Ratan Tata, Pramod Mittal and Ness Wadia: Newsmakers of 2013

Tuesday, 31 December 2013 - 7:24am IST

As an eventful year draws to a close, Vanity Fare would like to wish its readers a fabulously positive 2014. It's also time to thank all the bold and beautiful people who've added amazing colour and character to these columns with their presence. In our two-part salute to the top 10 newsmakers and top 10 moments in these columns during 2013, we begin with the winners in the male category..

Ratan Tata | Gift of the year
He gave back generously to his alma mater, Harvard Business School. Tata Hall, an expansive seven-story, glass-and-limestone building that will provide residential and learning space for almost 9,000 students has been recommended for LEED Platinum certification — the US Green Building Council’s highest rating— for its unique aesthetic utilitarianism. The ‘warm and welcoming’ building carries several Ratan-esque functionalities including low-flow plumbing, glass exteriors to allow maximum natural sunlight and a solar array to generate power for air-conditioning. A trained architect, it’s a signature that’s evident in all the offices and houses Ratan has quietly constructed in his lifetime, whether it was a house for his mother or his own beach bungalow in Alibaug.

Pramod Mittal | Profligate of the year
The backdrop for the wedding of industrialist Pramod Mittal’s daughter Srishti to investment banker Gulraj Behl was the whole of Barcelona — an estimated Rs500 crore was spent on the three day celebrations. The wedding also marked a revival of warmth with his estranged brother, steel king Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, who also spent close a million euro to host a lavish reception for his niece. The brothers had not been on talking terms after Lakshmi split the family business and walked away with the lucrative international arm, leaving Pramod with the relatively miniscule India operations. The sheer extravagance made international headlines, putting Srishti’s wedding right up there with cousin Vanisha’s — which had been billed as the second most expensive in history. Blame it on family tradition.

Anand Mahindra | Husband of the year
He’s one of India’s most astute corporate captains, his amiable manner and steady game plan hiding a steely will that has caught many a competitor unawares. Those who’ve interacted with Anand Mahindra will tell you that he’s not genetically engineered to play second fiddle to anyone — the solitary exception being the love of his life, Anuradha. Despite their hectic professional lives and endless public engagements, the charming couple don’t forget to keep the romance alive in their marriage — Anand took off with Anuradha to spend a romantic fortnight in New York where he traded in all the cares of the world for leisurely dinners, sightseeing and long walks in the winding lanes of East Village. Work-life balance doesn’t get better than this.

Nirav Modi |  Billionaire of the year
He’s a Wharton drop-out, who got some years of hands-on experience in the jewellery business assist his diamantaire uncle Mehul Choksi before striking out on his own. Nirav Modi had none of the advantages of established peers in terms of running factories, family support or substantial funds, but his reliable reputation helped him get diamonds on credit. In a little over a decade, the enterprising jeweller is auctioning $3 million Golconda diamond necklaces at Christie’s when he’s not attending to an elite client list that includes the world’s super rich. In 2013, Modi capped his phenomenal success story by earning the distinction of becoming the only diamantaire to make it to the Forbes billionaire list. How’s that for Indian shining?

Ness Wadia | Course correction of the year
Not so long ago, his party boy image, tumultuous affair with Preity Zinta and unwitting involvement in unsavoury IPL controversies had made Ness Wadia a darling of gossip columnists. The period had also marked a skew with younger brother Jeh Wadia being given bigger and wider responsibilities in the family businesses. Whether or not he considers it a low point, at least Ness can look back with some satisfaction at how he’s slowly and surely brought everything back on track. Firmly by the side of his father Nusli Wadia as he helps steer the Bombay Dyeing group into the future, the Wadia heir has put his partying days behind him and is now batting for peace and spirituality through an active involvement with the Bihar School of Yoga. Behold, the corporate yogi.

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