In front of 60,000 people, the largest reception in the UK for any foreign leader, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in November of how he wished to develop his country into an economic powerhouse and achieve, by 2019, an environmentally-clean India and 24-hour electricity for all citizens.
Many LCCI Asian Business Association (ABA) members were in the audience for the historic, four-hour event which began with performances from Indian and British artists in keeping with the theme of “strong cultural ties between the two countries”. Wembley stadium was lit up in the colours of the Indian and Union flags.
The support which the Indian PM enjoys in the British-Asian community could be gauged from the roar which erupted when he arrived, alongside David Cameron, after the cultural programme. In welcoming his counterpart, the British Prime Minister stressed the close ties shared by the two countries and the immense contribution made by Indians to the UK. British Indians were, he said, putting the ‘Great’ into Great Britain.
ABA chairman, Vijay Goel, committee member Professor Poonam Kumar, and LCCI deputy president Subhash Thakrar had all been asked to contribute to the special, celebratory programme for the event. Goel wrote of the ABA’s delight about Modi’s visit “not least because it gives a boost to further develop trade ties between our two countries. With the background of the development agenda of the new Indian government, this programme will be crucial in realising our joint trade potential. To help achieve this the LCCI and ABA will continue to run India-focused events in the UK.
“Unprecedented in size I believe in the tradition of the UK welcoming foreign leaders, this is a testament both to the standing of Prime Minister Modi and the importance of the British-Indian relationship.”
Professor Kumar praised Modi’s dynamic leadership and how he reflected the aspirations and hope of over a billion Indians. “Ever since he assumed office in May 2014, PM Modi has embarked on a journey of all-round and inclusive development. The prime object of the new government should be to take the economy back to the high growth (eight per cent plus) trajectory at the earliest. This calls for a slew of carefully considered measures, administrative as well as legislative.” On rural India she pointed out that Modi’s emphasis was on the need to frame policies that would ensure dignity with self-sufficiency for the poorest rather than introducing relief funds. What was needed was a self-reliant India. To achieve this vision, she wrote, “the government has introduced various microfinance programs to uplift the financial condition of rural India. The challenge for the government will be to effectively monitor the implementation of these programmes to ensure the reach of its benefits to the every last one of the needy.
Subhash Thakrar wrote that the gathering at Wembley “unprecedented in size I believe in the tradition of the UK welcoming foreign leaders, this is a testament both to the standing of Prime Minister Modi and the importance of the British-Indian relationship.” He made the point however that more needed to be done to realise the potential trade potential between the two countries. The LCCI would, he said, continue to organise annual trade missions to India and run seminars on the market in the UK. “Today’s historic event will greatly contribute to our efforts.”
Anushree Agarwal, Asian Business Association (ABA) Manager