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Aatmanirbhar Bharat an opportunity for bigger business between UK and India. Pixabay

UK India Business Council (UKIBC), an advocacy group that works with businesses and governments in the UK and India with an objective to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties, is hoping for great synergy between the two countries in the upcoming virtual meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, UKIBC CEO Jayant Krishna explains why a mega trade deal is on the anvil.

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Excerpts from the interview:

Q: In the post-Brexit world and amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, where major economies are increasingly trying to be self-reliant (Aatmanirbhar) for basics, how do you envisage the UK and India strengthening their bilateral trade?

A: We believe that international cooperation remains crucial for any country to have global business footprints. It is pragmatic to be self-reliant in certain essential products and services, but no country can grow to maximum effect by keeping its economy isolated from the rest of the world. India, like all countries, needs international support and collaboration to leverage strengths from across the world, including the UK.

The Government of India clearly agrees to this logic as concurrently it is shaping the country’s self-reliant goals while the bilateral relationship has gone from strength to strength in recent years with more engagement and greater enthusiasm from Ministers than in recent history. So, far from being a protectionist step, we believe that Aatmanirbhar Bharat can boost India’s integration and leadership in global supply chains and strengthen the bilateral UK-India relationship.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat can boost India’s integration and leadership. Pixabay

In fact, the UKIBC’s own ‘Doing Business in India’ survey found that the majority (77 percent) of UK companies surveyed think that Aatmanirbhar is an opportunity for more business with India.

On the other hand, India is really an important part of the UK’s post-Brexit world. In the last 12 months alone, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, has met with her counterpart, India’s Minister for Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal, several times. The ensuing Enhanced Trade Partnership and 10-year roadmap are important stepping stones on the way to a stronger bilateral relationship and eventually a free trade agreement. Our areas of mutual interest include commerce, investments, health, education, and sustainability and we expect the bilateral relationship to strengthen dramatically in this decade.

Q: Even as UK PM Boris Johnson has canceled his trip to India, there are reports that large bilateral trade deals are in the pipeline. Do you have any idea what the deals would look like?

A: Like everyone else, we will have to wait for the full details until Prime Ministers Johnson and Modi meet virtually. However, our interactions with businesses as well as both governments suggest that the agreement will cover all aspects of trade and investment. The Enhanced Trade Partnership was announced earlier by Liz Truss and Piyush Goyal, covering several sectors, and the expected 10-year road map will complement the trade and investment partnership as we also work together on areas of shared responsibility like climate change, sustainability, healthcare, and education.

Q: Which sectors and areas do you think can the two countries have an agreement over?

A: Several sectors were highlighted for focus at the Joint Economic and Trade Committee of July 2020 (where the Enhanced Trade Partnership was announced), in which the UK India Business Council serves as the UK secretariat. They include food and drink, ICT, life science and healthcare, chemicals, and services.

Several sectors including healthcare were highlighted for focus at the Joint Economic and Trade Committee of July 2020. Pixabay

I think manufacturing is a key area, as both countries have notable strengths, the UK in innovation, technology, and R&D in particular, and India in its sheer manufacturing capability and cost arbitrage. British technologies could be leveraged to manufacture in India for domestic and export markets. UK like JCB, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Diageo, GSK, Perkins, and many others are shining examples of this.

The success of banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered in India and the increase in FDI limit for the insurance sector to 74 percent throws opportunities for the BSFI sector. Good experience of firms like PwC signals opportunities in India for assurance, advisory, and tax services. De La Rue is keen to invest in the production of high-security features enabled currency notes in India, including polymer substrate ones, which are greener, cleaner, and safer.

UK’s defense capabilities are well-renowned, and India stands to gain from them in increasingly uncertain world order. In 2020, India raised the FDI cap from 49% to 74% through the automatic route which is an opportunity to be leveraged by UK firms. Recent acquisitions in the UK of sporting motorcycle Norton by TVS and two-wheeler firm Classic Legends by Mahindra & Mahindra are indeed interesting developments. Essar is investing in an ambitious hydrogen project in the UK. Large investors like Tata are expanding in the UK. These examples augur well for more UK investments in India.

Q: What are the prospects of Indian businesses in the UK and British investments in India?

A: India is already the second-largest investor in the UK, behind only the US. The UK has been the second-fastest-growing G20 investor in India in the last decade. By making more investments, businesses in both countries stand to gain a lot. The UK is one of the world’s largest economies, home to many of the world’s greatest universities and research centers, and world-class legal and regulatory institutions. An Indian business interested in the UK could thus gain access to the UK’s world-class workforce, regulatory and legislative environment, and the large market if it were to act upon its interest.

India is already the second-largest investor in the UK, behind only the US. Pixabay

In particular, the UK remains a leading financial center. Expertise in the STEM areas is also a great opportunity for collaboration and partnerships in engineering, manufacturing, and infrastructure, both for industry and academia, and research. The UK also has the lowest corporate tax rate amongst the G7, and the new points-based immigration system launched in 2020 has made it easier for Indians to come to the UK to live and work.

While for UK companies looking to enter or expand in India, the opportunities are enormous. India is already one of the world’s largest economies and is set to grow the fastest of any major economy in coming years, eventually becoming the world’s third-largest economy. Therefore, there is a huge untapped potential for investment. And the ever-improving ease of doing business in India and between our two countries will help to underpin the opportunities available.

Q: What are the challenges you are foreseeing for the economies of India and the UK, and also for the bilateral trade between the two countries? How can they overcome these challenges?

A: The most obvious challenge is the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit both economies hard. The pandemic is striking in waves and while the UK is currently coming out of its second wave, India is on the face of it approaching the peak of its second wave. It is heartening to see PM Boris Johnson’s offer of support to India. Relatedly, vaccine rollout is a challenge because as we know there are currently not enough vaccines for the world’s population. India’s challenge is more daunting given its population and expanse. So, working together to help both our countries get vaccinated is a challenge that can be overcome through perseverance and shared trust.

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Making it easier to trade and invest and do business in both our countries will help by enabling businesses to utilize their proficiencies. That means having moderate tariffs, simplifying bureaucratic processes, having a stable tax regime and ensuring regulatory certainty, protecting the intellectual property, getting into data adequacy agreements, for instance.

Beyond COVID recovery, climate change is going to be an ever-present challenge for decades and will shape not only the types of energy and processes we use but investment behavior for example. There are solutions available to make a difference now, like electric vehicles and related charging infrastructure, waste to energy, renewable energy, and green bonds and financing. Maximizing the rollout of these sorts of products and services will help both countries’ economies to grow sustainably, by making use of shared innovation, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing capabilities. (IANS/SP)



Surgeons attached a pig kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient so they could observe it for two days, and the kidney did what it was supposed to do.

Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.

Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS ( is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences

Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)

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