Telecom giant Vodafone's pledge of investing £1.3 billion (Rs 13,078 crore; at £1= Rs 100.6) in its India services was one of the big-bang investment proposals announced by British and Indian companies during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UK. On Friday, Britain and India welcomed £9 billion (Rs 90,540 crore) in more than 20 deals and collaborations.
A statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "During this visit, British and Indian companies are announcing new collaborations, together worth more than £9 billion."
India and Britain had shown political will to push their bilateral relations and it was now for the business communities of the two sides to take them forward, Modi said in an address to the UK-India CEO forum on Friday. "India and the UK are economically made for each other. This relationship has to be driven by private sector CEOs," Modi said.
Cameron also articulated a similar position. "We both have the political will to take our economic relationship forward," he said at the forum meet.
Later, speaking at the Wembley Stadium, Modi promised a new chapter for India in the world and held up all the economic liberalisation measures his government had introduced to eliminate poverty forever.
Vodafone's move to deepen investments in India shows the company has put the bitterness generated by back tax and revenue demands behind it. Vodafone plans to spend Rs 8,000 crore to upgrade its network, Rs 3,000 crore to increase capacity and improve technology and customer experience centres in Pune and Ahmedabad, and Rs 1,000 crore on a data centre. It will also spend Rs 1,000 crore for its payments bank, Vodafone M-Pesa.
Since starting operations in India in 2007, Vodafone has invested Rs 1,11,000 crore and has brought in the largest foreign direct investment into the country.
Companies in other industries also responded enthusiastically to Modi's visit. Lightsource, the largest solar photovoltaic generator in Europe, announced a £2 billion (Rs 20,120 crore) investment to design, install and manage three gigawatts of solar power infrastructure in India over the next five years.
UK-listed OPG Power Ventures will add £2.9 billion (Rs 29,174 crore) to its current investment in India, taking it to a total of £3.4 billion (Rs 34,204 crore). The investment will create 4,200 Mw of power capacity, of which 1,000 Mw will be solar power and 3,200 Mw will be thermal and renewable power in Tamil Nadu.
|BONHOMIE & BUSINESS|
INDIAN FIRMS INVESTING IN THE UK
The King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Indo UK Healthcare signed an agreement to open King's College Hospital in Chandigarh. Holland & Barrett International, UK's leading health retailer, will open 1,000 outlets in India in partnership with Apollo Hospitals over the next five years.
Indian health care companies also announced investments in the UK. SSPSL, a subsidiary of India's Strides Shasun and a provider of services to the pharmaceutical industry, will invest £8 million (Rs 80.48 crore) in its UK facility. Advatech Health Care said it would invest £5 million (Rs 50.3 crore) in the UK to introduce disruptive information technology for ambulances.
The offshore arm of the UK's Equiniti Group, Equiniti India, provider of technology and solutions for administration, announced an expansion plan in Chennai. Wipro will deepen its investment in the UK with its newest office for Wipro Digital.
Several British insurance companies are poised to come to India should their applications for approval be granted. Standard Life, Bupa and Aviva had committed to invest a combined £2.38 billion (Rs 23,943 crore) in their Indian joint ventures, government sources said. Lloyds intends to invest but no specific plans were mentioned during Modi's visit.
The London Stock Exchange Group and YES Bank have signed an agreement to foster joint collaborations in bond and equity issuance with a focus on green infrastructure finance.
Indiabulls Housing Finance has invested £66 million (Rs 664 crore) in OakNorth Bank, a recently authorised bank lending to small business owners. Indiabulls will be the single largest shareholder of the bank with nearly 40 per cent stake.
TVS will open a £20 million (Rs 201.2 crore) advanced logistics facility in Barnsley generating 100 new jobs, growing to 500 over five years. Integrated learning solutions provider Dexler will set up Dexler Education UK, its European headquarters, with an investment of £10 million (Rs 100.6 crore).
Modi had lunch with the Queen on Friday, before the emotional high-point of his visit, a mass rally at Wembley Stadium, home to rock concerts and England's national soccer team.
Modi addressed an estimated 50,000-60,000 people from India's 1.5 million-strong diaspora in Britain. Modi was introduced to the gathering by Cameron, whose wife Samantha, draped in a saree, was also present.
Cameron greeted the assembled audience with a "Namaste" which drew loud cheers and followed up with another greeting "kem cho (How are you?) Wembley" in Gujarati.
He renewed his pitch for India getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. "When it comes to UN we know what needs to happen - India with a permanent seat at the UN Security Council," Cameron said.
In his Wembley speech, Modi hailed plurality in India and spoke about the programmes he had rolled out after he became Prime Minister - Swachh Bharat, education of girls and electricity within 1,000 days to 18,000 villages that have no power. He spoke with great passion about the changes in FDI regulations that the government had made and predicted the changes would bring great progress.
Referring obliquely to restiveness among Muslims all over the world, he said Kabir and Rahim, proponents of the Sufi tradition, preached inclusiveness that everyone must follow. He said India's place in the world had been restored and that it was now seen in the world as an equal, not an inferior or a supplicant.