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Modi in UK: Industry must match with political will to push India-Britain ties

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London: After assuring global investors on how India is the preferred destination for doing business and investments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said it was for industry captains to push bilateral ties with Britain as the political will of the two nations was well established.

“India and the United Kingdom are economically made for each other. This relationship has to be driven by private sector CEOs now,” Modi said on the second day of his engagements here during his address to the UK-India CEO Forum.

 

People of UK and India are easily compatible. This is in itself is a big advantage.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who also addressed the forum meeting, articulated a similar position at the meeting, attended by around 30 chief executives from the two sides. “We both have the political will to take our economic relationship forward,” Cameron said.

The Indian prime minister, who had made a series of statements and oversaw the release of several joint statements with his host and British counterpart on Thursday, said he was particularly keen that the global investment community participates in India’s infrastructure projects.

“We want to develop our railway stations in the public-private partnership mode,” Modi said, adding: “Defense manufacturing is also the backbone of our ‘Make in India’ initiative.”

Modi also said India was looking at the global stage now. “We are confidently, consistently and ceaselessly working to integrate our economy with the world,” he told the meeting, held at Lancaster House, close to Buckingham Palace.

The Indian prime minister also referred to initiatives such as “Make in India” and said a special emphasis was on sprucing up infrastructure, further opening up of the economy to foreign capital, building 50 million new houses by 2022 and generating 175 GW of renewable energy.

British companies in India will be a win-win partnership for both countries.

According to a statement issued after the meetings between the two prime ministers, they looked forward to the first meeting of the reconstituted India-UK CEOs Forum, and had tasked it with advising them on the trade and investment opportunities as also challenges faced by the two sides.

According to an analysis by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the institutional partner from the India-UK CEO Forum, while the cumulative equity investment from Britain to India between January 2003 and August 2015 was $54.35 billion, it was $11.3 billion reciprocally.

On Thursday, deals worth $14.2 billion were signed by the businesses of the two countries.

After the CEOs Forum meeting, Modi arrived at Buckingham Palace, where he was received by Queen Elizabeth II. She was hosting a lunch for him.

“Her Majesty the Queen with PM @narendramodi at Buckingham Palace,”  PMO tweeted.

“Building on the bonds of history. PM @narendra Modi calls on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the external affairs ministry.

The Indian prime minister began the day by continuing bilateral parleys with Cameron at the Chequers, the countryside retreat of the British prime minister. Modi was hosted by Cameron to a private dinner on Thursday at the Chequers and he spent the night there.

During the course of his stay at the Chequers, the Indian prime Friday presented his British counterpart with specially handcrafted bookends made of wood, marble and silver.

Each pair of bookends has a silver bell which symbolizes inner wisdom and is engraved with a Sanskrit verse from the Bhagavad Gita along with its English rendering, an official statement said.

Keeping in mind Cameron’s fondness for Robert Graves’s work on World War I, ‘Goodbye to All That’, Modi also presented to him David Omissi’s ‘Indian Voices of the Great War’.

To the first lady, the Indian prime minister presented Aranmula metal mirror, a unique handicraft from Kerala, and Pashmina stoles.

Later on Friday evening, Modi will address around 60,000 people of Indian origin at the iconic Wembley Stadium here.

This will be followed by a reception in his honor by India’s High Commissioner to Britain, Ranjan Mathai.

(Inputs from IANS)

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The Risk of FGM Hangs Above British Schoolgirls During Holiday Break

Ending FGM requires multiple entry points (and) enabling families and communities to be proactive in ending the practice of FGM is ultimately the most effective channel

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Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, judge
A badge reads "The power of labor against FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 6, 2018. (VOA)

As many families prepare to holiday abroad during the festive season, British charities on Monday warned that girls taken overseas could be at risk of female genital mutilation(FGM)

Known as FGM, female genital mutilation is a ritual that usually involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, including the clitoris. Some girls bleed to death or die from infections.

Cutting affects an estimated 200 million girls worldwide and is a rite of passage in many societies, often with the aim of promoting chastity, with the highest prevalence in Africa and parts of the Middle East.

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM. Many cases go unnoticed because they had happened at a young age and abroad, campaigners say. Campaigners say teachers should look out for warning signs, such as when a child is taken abroad for a long time to a country where there is a high prevalence of female genital mutilation.

FGM
– A doctor checks her phone as she poses for a photograph in Mumbai, India, June 8, 2016. The 50-year-old woman defends what is widely considered female genital mutilation within her small, prosperous Dawoodi Bohra community in India. VOA

“The best way of preventing the practice is by working with girls and their families … and training professionals like teachers and social workers to spot girls at risk of FGM,” said Leethen Bartholomew, head of Britain’s National FGM Center.

Some warning signs that a girl might have been cut include difficulty walking or sitting down, spending a long time in the toilet or becoming withdrawn, said the Center, run by children’s charity Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association.

FGM has been a criminal offense in Britain since 1985. Legislation in 2003 made it illegal for British citizens to carry out or procure female genital mutilation abroad, even in countries where it is legal.

In 2015, it became mandatory for health professionals, social workers and teachers in Britain to report known cases of FGM to police.

FGM
FILE – A T-shirt warns against female genital mutilation. Its wearer attends an event, discouraging harmful practices such as FGM, at a girls high school in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

The practice mostly affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

British-based charity Forward, which supports FGM survivors from African communities, said though teachers have a crucial role to play, they should not stigmatize certain communities.

“While teachers need to be alert at all times about safeguarding children in their care, we also need to ensure that some communities are not unduly targeted and stigmatized,” said Naana Otoo-Oyortey, executive director of FORWARD.

Also Read: Female Genital Mutilation Unconstitutional: Michigan Judge

“Ending FGM requires multiple entry points (and) enabling families and communities to be proactive in ending the practice of female genital mutilation is ultimately the most effective channel,” she said in emailed comments to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Britain in November pledged $63 million to combat female genital mutilation in Africa. (VOA)