When I was young, a second-generation Punjabi living in the UK’s deepest Midlands, I remember my parents waiting eagerly for the monthly blue airmail envelopes from our ancestral Punjabi village near Kapurthala. It would arrive, slightly tattered, but fully loaded with stories of crop yields, sweet tea, marriages and the occasional feud.
Play forward 20 years and the last time I checked even my father thinks of email as last-century! Free data calls are the order, and indeed the highlight, of his day. Communication is exclusively technology driven these days, with new methods arriving to continually surprise us all
British companies such as Vodafone have taken UK-developed technology to market in India. They are now the blue Airmail envelopes of the future.
I think I am safe in saying technological innovation is everywhere; it drives business, social progress diplomacy, security, and even culture.
The UK Government sees technology and innovation as absolutely integral to our future partnership with India. We want to position ourselves ahead of the global pack. We are in ways the partner of choice for core Prime Minister Modi initiatives like Start-up India’, ‘Digital India’ and of course ‘Make in India’. And the UK starts from a good base; not just the often lauded political and cultural ties, but real business outcomes. Hard cash and deals done!
It goes without saying India is the third largest investor in the UK, second when it comes to number of jobs created. Over 7000 last year! Indian companies also employ nearly 110,000 people in the UK. On the flip side, the UK is the largest G20 investor in India. We work together on a range of prosperity objectives, from ease of doing business to financial inclusion and technology transfer. All supported by the largest the UK commercial diplomatic network in the world, which lives and breathes support for India’s growth.
This prosperity partnership is also mature. My Indian business contacts and friends have provided some of the most sage advice post Brexit. What Brexit, they tell me. The UK remains more open for business than ever before. For example, the Indian ICT sector comprises some of the UK’s largest investors. They unashamedly see the opportunity to shift the dial upwards from 13 % of their global revenues coming from UK to closer to the 60% from the US. They see assets as fairly priced, and shout loudly that UK has the fundamentals and an ecosystem to help Indian companies grow. Their key ingredients of a skilled workforce, ease of setting up a company and access to the world’s most advanced technologies remain the same. Through the Government’s flagship Tech Rocketship Awards we are also matching India’s top high- growth tech companies with Angel and venture capital that helps them internationalise their firms through the UK. India speaks up, we listen.
Nowhere will this message come through more clearly than the India-UK Technology Summit landing in New Delhi on November 7-9 2016. The UK is the country partner for the Summit, which is being delivered with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). We have the UK PM's first bilateral trade visit happening at the same time. So, no pressure then! We are confident there will be no better joint opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the India-UK partnership across a range of technology driven initiatives and sectors like Health, Life-Sciences, Agri-technology, Smart cities, Cyber Security, Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics to name a few. Personally I'm most excited about the R2D2 robots that would re-create the magic of ‘Star Wars’ in New Delhi; ‘the Hackathon’ running through the night where British and Indian tech geeks will be live-linked and cracking a financial inclusion problem- demonstrating, were it required, that technology can transform society. Oh and did i mention the world’s fastest man will be there- not Usain Bolt but Andy Green, owner of the world land speed record.
Deals done, contacts made and innovations created. Can’t wait to see you all there.
To know more about Tech Summit lease register on Ciitechknow.com
- By Amo Kalar, Deputy Director- Trade, Economics and Prosperity, India, British High Commission