Dear Dave… game-changing ideas on India for the PM

Dear Dave-bhai,

Further to my last blog-post about the UK – India relationship, I wanted to offer two specific suggestions on how you could create a name for yourself on the UK – India circuit, which I know is what you and the remaining political class would love to do.

Whilst you’ve not announced it yet, we’re all aware that some people jumped the gun by letting it be known that you’re visiting India in July. In preparation, you may want to incorporate the following:

With the UK – India Trade & Investment relationship floundering rather than flourishing, your visit could mark a departure and arrest the decline if you did the following:

DITCH THE HIGH PROFILE CEO DELEGATION ON YOUR FORTHCOMING VISIT

As news worthy as they are, ditch the high profile CEOs that you’re planning to take along with you. What’s the point? They already have operations in India, they have the money to survive, and enjoy the access they so crave.

Instead, why don’t you take the Director’s of 20 SMEs ranging from widget manufacturers to regional retailers. It’s these guys that need the education and improved understanding of the opportunities a country like India provides. They fear the uncertainty of a very complex environment in India, but get the cost advantage of China, which is something your government needs to get right. After all, if you’re after a strategic partnership with India, you need to think a little beyond schmoozing the good & great from UK Plc on this much awaited visit.

EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION

There’s no two ways about this, the world marvels in envy at our education system. We’ve known for a very long time that the education sector is as central to our global influence as the Bollywood film industry is to India, so let’s try and regain the lead that’s been stolen from us by the Americans and Australians in India.

We already have examples of success, such as Lancaster University that have set up a joint venture partnership in Delhi to provide accredited courses and degrees to students in India. They predict that in the not too distant future, they’ll have more graduates coming out of the Delhi campus than the mother base in Lancaster!

That’s just one example, but we could look at funding a new wave of research collaboration, educational exchanges at all levels, and perhaps could look at helping India in bridging its skills deficit as a result of our excellence in this field.

We know that India churns out more graduates that the whole of Europe together, but rather than get lost in such statistics, you would do well to understand that the Indian education system, on the whole, is not as great as we’re lead to believe. Why can’t UK centres of excellence enter into partnerships with struggling institutes of technology, science & engineering colleges, business schools etc which exist all over India to assist them actively?

Education could easily be the game-changer that you’re looking for.

Dave – the truth, as unpalatable as this may be to you, is that the previous government brought a paradigm shift to the way India is dealt with, here and in international quarters. However, the opportunity you have is also very clear to me. Put simply, exert some effort in making things happen and you’ll create a legacy that’s enduring.

With my best regards,

Vikas

Economic Reform Wish List

With the Communists jettisoned from the UPA, I hope that the limited time that the Congress have in this parliament is used to bring in legislation / initiatives that will make a huge difference to India truly becoming a global player. If anything, Indian people stand to benefit the most from these policy changes.

My wish list is as follows:

1. FDI for multi brand retailing – foreign investment into the retail sector can only be a good thing and will serve as an engine for employment.

2. Civil Aviation – allow foreign equity participation in domestic airlines, allow airlines to small airports, and create cargo hubs to assist exports.

3. Foreign Education Providers Bill – let foreign universities tie up and invest in setting up campuses in India. The country may  be producing huge numbers of graduates, but this would create extra capacity and improve research capabilities.

4. Insurance Sector – let foreign investors invest upto 49%. The extra 23% jump will serve as a catalyst and enable more access of capital for the insurance sector.

Like I said, the UPA has a limited timeframe. Their general election is due in the first half of next year. Everyone knows that Manmohan Singh initiated the reform process in the early 90’s, he can leave a huge legacy if he delivers on substantive initiatives before the country goes to the polls.