More than a hundred business leaders, parliamentarians, government representatives, and other influential figures gathered in the British Houses of Parliament for a unique event aimed at highlighting the major success stories of UK-India economic cooperation.
The program was hosted by Virendra Sharma MP, Chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group, and organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) supported by Grant Thornton and Manchester India Partnership (MIP). Highlights of key case studies from the CII-Grant Thornton “India Meets Britain” tracker and “India in the UK: India’s business footprint in the UK” report supported by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) were shared on the day.
Among key speakers were Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of State, UK Department for International Trade; Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Culture, Sports & Media; HE YK Sinha, High Commissioner of India; David Landsman, Chair, CII India Business Forum, and Executive Director, Tata Limited, Lord Jim O’Neill; Andrew Cowan, CEO, Manchester Airport Group and Chair, Manchester India Partnership, along with nearly 30 MPs and peers across party lines representing various constituencies and regions of UK.
An exhibition of Indian companies such as Tata, Tech Mahindra, HCL Technologies, ICICI, Union Bank, Hero Cycles, Air India, and Varana World represented the diversity of sectors where Indian companies operate including Technology, Manufacturing, Services, Banking & Financial Services, Tourism, Fashion, and Luxury products.
David Landsman, Chair, CII India Business Forum, and Executive Director, Tata Limited, welcomed the dignitaries noting that successful Indian businesses had a tendency to hide their light under a bushel. He reflected on the increasing footprint of Indian companies across UK: “There’s probably never been more attention on the economic relationship between the UK and India, as India undertakes significant market reforms and the UK prepares to leave the EU. It’s time, therefore, to put the spotlight on the huge contribution which Indian businesses make to the British economy. Today’s exhibition in Parliament showcases businesses in almost every sector, from banking to pharmaceuticals, from luxury cars to luxury hotels, from tea to IT, and, of course, the Indian food and restaurants which have become a full part of British culture. There are plenty of Indian businesses a stone’s throw from Parliament, but they can also be found right across the UK from Scotland to Southern England, from East Anglia to Wales and Northern Ireland. So, we’re also proud today to be launching the Manchester-India partnership, one more step towards deepening the relationship across the country.”
A presentation highlighting key results of the fourth edition of the Grant Thornton “India Meets Britain” tracker developed in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was made by Anuj Chande, Partner, and South Asia Head, Grant Thornton, which was followed by a panel discussion moderated by David Landsman. The panelists included key company representatives covered in the report – Tara Naidu, Regional Manager – UK & Europe, Air India; Udayan Guha, Senior Vice President, HCL Technologies; Sudhir Dole, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank UK; and Bhushan Patil, Senior Vice President – UK & Southern Europe, Tech Mahindra. Outlining the business footprint across the UK, each panelist highlighted the regional presence of their company across the country establishing the great opportunities for business outside of the London area and the need for regional engagement.
HE YK Sinha, High Commissioner of India, emphasized the need for such interactions to highlight Indian success stories and generate more positive news about the increasing footprint of the Indian companies in the UK and the strengthening of the UK-India relationship. He said: “I am happy to note that the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group are jointly promoting Indian businesses and companies in the UK. Indian companies have contributed immensely towards the growth of the UK economy, creating wealth and a large number of jobs. These companies contribute significantly to enhancing the economic and commercial engagement between India and the UK. I would like to convey my best wishes on the launch of the Manchester India Partnership and would be happy to extend support to this initiative.”
The Rt. Hon. Matthew Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, also attended the event and expressed his passion and commitment to strengthening collaboration in sport, digital, and media fields between the two countries.
Congratulating the CII and MIP, Baroness Fairhead said: “I congratulate the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on organizing this showcase of Indian companies in Westminster. Many Indian companies have great links with the UK and several who have set up base in the greater Manchester region – for instance, Tata Group companies, HCL Technologies, Hero Cycles, and Accord healthcare – whose success stories demonstrate the potential and the power of a regional connection. It is a pleasure to launch the Manchester India Partnership today, and I believe a platform like this can be very beneficial in bringing together regional stakeholders.” Baroness Fairhead will undertake her first official visit to India next week to address the Createch summit in Mumbai, and this was her first interaction with Indian industry in the UK Parliament as Minister for International Trade.
Lord O’Neill, while launching the MIP, remarked: “The Manchester India Partnership is an exciting initiative, which recognizes the rising importance of international cities in forging strategic international partnerships. India is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies; it, therefore, makes eminent sense for Manchester to further develop its air connectivity, trade, science, and cultural links with this emerging global power.”
The event underlined that Indian investment was not centered on London but that businesses were eager to grasp the many opportunities offered by the UK’s northern powerhouse. Grant Thornton’s research has identified 800 Indian companies operating in the UK, with combined revenues of £47.5 billion. This shows the continued importance of the contribution that Indian companies make to the British economy. In the years ahead, as the Indian economy develops to become one of the largest and most powerful in the world, the opportunities to boost investment in the UK will continue to grow. The UK and India have recognized how much both countries stand to gain by strengthening economic ties in the post-Brexit landscape.
Photos © Rita Payne