Not wanting to give you the impression that all I do is attend lavish dinners, but the UK’s Ambassador of Trade & Investment – HRH The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) convened a small dinner for 20 in, ironcially, the Chinese Room at Buckingham Palace with key companies to report back on his recent visit to the Motherland. The guest list really did read like the who’s who of business and was therefore privileged to be included.
I thought that HRH played his role as host to a tee. He provoked the group at various points to stimulate discussion to the point at one stage when the new Indian High Commissioner had to step in to bring discussion back on track!
‘Most’ of the British contingent moaned about the usual stuff – liberalisation of the economy, restrictions on our lawyers to practice in India, challenges of bureaucracy etc. I say ‘most’ because out of these companies, Bill Gammell of Cairn Energy, made a fantastic intervention saluting the Indian mindset and enterpreneurial zeal that he had personally witnessed – the basic point he made is that no place in the world is perfect.
Reflecting on the dinner, what sticks out in my mind is the sense that everyone around the table really ‘connected’ with India. I mean, not just the commercial opportunites that arise as a result of her emergence, but ‘connected’ with India and Indian people on a personal level.
I know that everytime I return from India and am waiting for my baggage to catch up with me in Heathrow’s luggage hall, I can’t help but feel that I want to be back in India. Yes, there are challenges. But, the sheer ingenuity of Indian people to overcome these challenges is remarkable and brings a smile to my face everytime I think of India.
On a slightly amusing note, I wonder how the other guests took to instructions on how to greet the Duke of York (“good evening, your royal highness”).