India-UK partnership will boost growth

India-UK partnership will boost growth

By LORD KARAN BILIMORIA | 24 October, 2015
It is vital that the UK government does everything it can to bolster the links forged between the two nations.
In successive years, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and David Cameron swept to shock election majorities, promising financial stability and economic growth to voters. The upcoming arrival of Narendra Modi in Britain in November, the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister since 2006, presents David Cameron with a huge opportunity to boost the UK’s ties with one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
For economic co-operation to be successful, mutual cultural understanding is paramount. Britain and India have a long and intertwined history, as well as strong cultural and defence ties, and a common language — more should be done to capitalise on all of this.
PM Narendra Modi with his British counterpart David Cameron during the G20 summit in Brisbane. PTI Since Indian Independence in 1947, the UK has embraced the Indian nation with open arms and both countries have benefited hugely. Indian people are the largest ethnic minority in the UK, with a diaspora 1.5 million strong, and are made up of some of the most successful and influential people in Britain — reaching the top in every field, be it in science, politics, business or creative industries.
Indian cuisine is Britain’s favourite dish and the UK has a long and proud history of welcoming the brightest Indian students to study at our outstanding universities — I am the third generation of my family to be educated at a British university.
It is vital that the UK government does everything it can to bolster the links forged between the two nations. Since 2010, the introduction of increased visa restrictions for international students and talented South Asian chefs has resulted in halving the number of Indian students attending UK universities and the closure of curry restaurants across the country due to a skilled staff shortage. 
Indian cuisine is Britain’s favourite dish and the UK has a long and proud history of welcoming the brightest Indian students to study at our outstanding universities — I am the third generation of my family to be educated at a British university.
 
These immigration policies paint the UK as unwelcoming and erode the strong ties forged between India and Britain — they should be reversed.
Despite the claim by David Cameron in 2010 that he would double trade with India by 2014, we still trade more with Belgium than with India.
Nevertheless, we are now moving in the right direction. Indian companies, such as the Tata Group, have invested in swathes of British industry and India is now the third largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the UK — signalling the emergence of India as an increasingly confident global economic superpower. Meanwhile, the UK provides the greatest investment of any G20 nations in India.
Britain has also shown willingness to support Narendra Modi’s call to “Make in India” by launching “GREAT for Collaboration”, an initiative to showcase the special relationship between the two nations’ businesses.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK this November is an important and symbolic occasion. The time has never been better for us to celebrate and reinforce the incredibly strong relationship between Britain and India, and significantly enhance bilateral trade, business and investment.
Lord Karan Bilimoria is Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer, Founding Chairman of the UK-India Business Council, Chancellor of the University of Birmingham and President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

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