A Diaspora Dividend
Important post-Brexit relations between the UK and India were the focus of the newly appointed High Commissioner of India Her Excellency Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam, in her first public speech at London’s Chatham House (Tuesday 27 November).
Her Excellency Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam, said: “As Prime Minster May talks of a global Britain you will find an increasingly global India too, youthful and dynamic, but also true to its great history and culture; a global India where commerce and culture, modernity and history, sit comfortably side-by-side. India-UK relations have never been closer following the visit of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to the UK in April 2018.
“The bilateral strategic partnership and growing convergence on a number of geopolitical and strategic issues have been further strengthened in the last couple of years. During the Prime Minister’s visit both countries signed 10 MOUs and agreements. These reinforce the natural ambition of both countries to further bilateral cooperation.
“And this was not a one-off where the Prime Minister of India visited the UK. The previous year Prime Minister May had visited India and Prime Minister Cameron visited India twice. So it has been a steady process of visiting each other and trying to work on bilateral relationships. Our economic relationship has been strong and there is great potential for growth in both goods and services.”
The High Commissioner said the UK was one of India’s main trading partners and that the UK was the fourth largest inward investor in India, accounting for seven per cent of all foreign investment into the country. India meanwhile continued to be the fourth largest investor in the UK and the second largest international job creator with Indian companies and businesses creating 105,000 jobs in the UK.
Her Excellency Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam, added: “Our relationship is both special and really deep. One of the greatest strengths of the UK-India relationship is our familiarity with one another, we have known each other for a long time.
“Right now we are focusing on health care and future technologies. We feel in a technology-savvy world, cooperation in these areas will be very useful between our two countries. Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK, the India-UK Technology Partnership was launched by DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock in India in May 2018. That will help us to benefit in the wake of the next technology revolution.
“UK expertise in tech and fintech and strengths in innovation and India’s skilled manpower and start-up culture will help to ensure the creation of high value jobs, higher productivity and will help us to tackle shared challenges. The development of the UK-India Technical Hub in the British High Commission in Delhi aims to bring together a team of experts to increase tech investment and exports. The techUK trade associations and NASSCOM have also announced they will work together through a new UK-India Tech Alliance bringing senior tech leaders together to collaborate, help develop policy and encourage innovation.
“These are some areas for our work together in the future, along with the UK joining the International Solar Alliance during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to the UK. This multi-country global initiative to tackle climate change is led by India and France and British expertise to support the delivery of the ISA’s objectives and proposed collaboration between the UK and the ISA on solar financing will go a long way to meet the developing countries’ objectives of reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.”
In terms of the UK-India relationship in the light of Brexit, Her Excellency Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam, said: “It is perhaps the most interesting period imaginable in recent years and that presents challenges but also opportunities.”
She told the Indian Professionals Forum that she was looking forward to interacting with them in the coming weeks and months and hearing “about what you think the UK and India can do together, and make the best use of the opportunities.
“One thing I can say without hesitation is the UK-India partnership is very old, it has stood the test of time and whatever happens through this process, in whatever way it turns out, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that India and the UK will remain important partners and we will continue to work together to improve the partnership and take our relationship from strength-to-strength. Of that I have absolutely no doubt.
“The visit of our Prime Minister to the UK happened at a good time. It was in response to the visit of the UK Prime Minister to India. Both leaders have set ambitious targets for us to give a new trajectory and a faster pace to the development of our relationship.”
In greeting and introducing the High Commissioner to the meeting of the Indian Professionals Forum, IPF President Dr Mohan Kaul said that as well as representing the work of the Indian diaspora in the UK, the impending Brexit had strengthened the need for the creation of the IPF.
He said: “Brexit or no Brexit, the UK and India will remain as strong partners, with the UK continuing to be the first choice of location for a lot of Indian business and tourism. London will remain a strong financial centre for raising finances for Indian businesses and infrastructure.
“Our focus has been on advanced technology companies and particularly start-ups in the UK and India as we look to strengthen the UK-India technology corridor for UK companies to scale up in India and for Indian companies to innovate in the UK. We are focusing on strengthening the technology parks in the UK to match Silicon Valley in the US. As you are aware, 20% of the technology start-ups in Silicon Valley are by Indian diaspora while the number of such companies in the UK is very small and we are looking at ways to increase this. We are also convinced there is considerable scope for the health service too.”