India Inc. hosted UK-India Awards in London mark an important milestone in this centuries-old relationship in need of reinvigoration, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.
Britain is in General Election overdrive, with the release of party manifestos and campaign stops across the length and breadth of the country dominating the landscape in the run up to the June 8 D-Day. In the midst of this poll frenzy, the visit of not one but two senior Indian ministers to the UK – Road Transport, Highways and Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari and Power, Coal and Renewable Energy minister Piyush Goyal – brought some added vigour to proceedings.
They were here to list mega Masala Bonds on the London Stock Exchange, raising billions of dollars towards India’s infrastructure needs and thereby highlighting the enduring allure of London as a financial centre for Indian companies.
India Inc. hosted both ministers at the 4th Annual UK-India Conclave, which was held on the theme of ‘A Global Partnership: A New Era in UK-India Relations’ this year. The transport minister spoke of his love for London’s double-decker buses and his plans to replicate energy-efficient versions in India as a metaphor for closer cooperation in the sector between the two countries.
The power minister was also on a similar mission to strengthen the collaborative spirit with the launch of the UK Joins Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) project in London. As the chief guest of the gala UK-India Awards ceremony later the same day [May 12], he spoke enthusiastically of how the inaugural event marks a turning point in the bilateral relationship.
It indeed was a turning point, encapsulated in his own inimitable style by the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who enthused about the prospects of a post-Brexit Free Trade Agreement (FTA) meaning cheaper whisky flooding into India.
But on a more serious note, he and his Cabinet colleague, Priti Patel, both agreed on working harder to reinvigorate the UK-India relationship so that there is no danger of it being taken for granted or becoming simply transactional in nature.
The annual Conclave and the newly-launched Awards are a step in that direction of steering clear of any complacency. Winners like Grant Thornton UK, which bagged the award for Consultancy Firm of the Year, Intas Pharmaceuticals (Deal of the Year), Linklaters LLP (Law Firm of the Year) and all others across various categories signify all that is working well within the UK-India dynamic.
By celebrating their success and through the launch of the ‘UK-India 100’ list of most influential people driving things forward, India Inc. has made a small effort in re-energising things within this space. With election results, Brexit negotiations and India edging towards double-digit growth figures on the horizon, the awards form a handy reference point for the future of this important relationship.