A new Manchester-India Partnership (MIP) aimed at connecting Indian companies with the northern regions of England has been set up to further trade, investment, science and innovation ties between India and Britain.
The public-private initiative between India and Manchester, a core city of what has been termed as the Northern Powerhouse in Britain, is backed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and will have permanent full-time teams based in Manchester, Delhi and Bangalore.
Jim O'Neill, the economist who coined the phrase BRICS in reference to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as the emerging economies of the world, officially launched the partnership at an event hosted by the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament on Thursday.
"Between 2015 and 2035, just the increase in India's working age population will be bigger than the combined working age populations of the four largest countries in the European Union (EU). If that translates into real economic life, in my judgement, India could easily repeat what China has done in the last 30 years in growing by double digits," O'Neill said, adding that more needs to be done to achieve that double-digit growth.
"India could grow at 12.5 per cent...because of the demographics, India could do some much better. For the Manchester-India Partnership, it means a much bigger opportunity than China because demographics will start slowing down there," he said.
The Chair of the Manchester-India Partnership, Manchester Airport CEO Andrew Cowan, made a call for direct flights to connect Manchester and cities in India to further boost the partnership, founded by the Manchester Airport Group, Deloitte, Growth Company, MIDAS and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.
Rona Fairhead, Minister of State in the UK Department for International Trade, said Indian companies can now "make in India but innovate in Manchester", a cityshe described as the second-largest gateway to the UK for Indian companies.
"The numbers show just how significantly Indian companies have been investing in Britain and how good that has been for job creation and innovation in our country," she said.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Y K Sinha stressed that India's "success story" needs more attention by the media worldwide.
"There must be a reason why people are queuing up to woo India. There must be something right India is doing but I am afraid that story is not being well publicised," he said.
"This year we will grow at 7.1-7.2 per cent and next year, according to the World Bank, 7.8 per cent, which by any standards is a lot. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last few years has achieved more than governments in the past over similar periods because of the emphasis on the mantra of development for all," Sinha noted.
He also flagged the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in the UK in April as an important avenue to revive the institution, which has suffered from "benign neglect" in the past. Modi is expected to attend the summit in London, as part of a wider India-UK bilateral visit.
"The time has come to give the Commonwealth a particular focus and make it meaningful for member-states," Sinha said.
A walkthrough exhibition of Indian companies at the Manchester India Partnership launch was represented by Indian companies like Tata, Tech Mahindra, HCL Technologies, ICICI, Union Bank, Hero Cycles, Air India and Varana Worldto highlight the diversity of sectors where Indian companies operate in the UK such as technology, manufacturing, services, banking and financial services, tourism, fashion and luxury products.
"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.Its time, therefore, to put the spotlight on the huge contribution which Indian businesses make to the British economy," said David Landsman, Chair of the CII India Business Forumand Executive Director, Tata Limited.