The countdown begins.. for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games

Have to say that the official countdown to the Commonwealth Games has gotten off to a fantastic start. Her Majesty, The Queen passed the baton onto the Indian President yesterday at Buckingham Palace, which was billed as a ‘first’ in the Games’ history as the baton had never been passed from one Head of State to another.

Actually, what was expected to be a damp squib of an event turned out to be a great show, with the forecourt of the Palace (on the “right” side of the famous gates that we peer through to take a look at the Palace) being used as a venue that accomodated the hoi poloi of Indian society and officals from the Commonwealth.

For me it was quite surreal to see kathak, bharatnatyam and other forms of Indian dance traditions alongside tabla, and sitar players in such a majestic environment. To top if off, when the Royal party arrived, the ceremonial troupe first played the Indian National Anthem – which seemed strange but another sign of India arriving – followed by ‘God Save the Queen’ – which we’ve sung on the terraces of our football stadia, but it truly felt odd humming ‘God Save Our Glorious Queen’ to the Queen!

The organisers had brought to the stage a phenomenal cast of sports stars that included Kapil Dev, Abhinav Bindra, Sania Mirza and the Flying Sikh – who ran for India many moons ago. On the British side, Dame Kelly Holmes, Lord Coe, Monty Panesar all lead the charge. They all took the baton out of the Palace and ran around the Victoria Memorial a few times and posed for video and photos – quite funnily at one point Kapil Dev had to hold Seb Coe back from overtaking Sania Mirza, who’s turn it was to carry the baton.

All in all a great enjoyable event and the British team’s given it all their weight. Let’s hope Suresh Kalmadi gets that Delhi needs to be ready for the games in a year’s time!

India season cometh (again)

Its been a few years, but I can, for the first time in ages, say that I may actually enjoy August!

Traditionally, August and December were two points at which we could do all the things that needed doing at work, but in the last few years this distinction blurred as there was so much going on. It seems to be much quieter this time around, perhaps they’re too busy organising themselves for the autumnal months ahead of us – which looks busy.

I thought I’d write a post as to what’s going on in London viz. India in September & October, as this’ll probably save some time in conversation. Please feel free to add to this list:

Lord Davies, International Trade Minister, leads a business delegation to India this September. He’ll visit Delhi, Mumbai, and Nagpur from 14th – 18th September.

Officials from The Indian Ministry of Finance & SEBI visit London on a study tour of regulatory and monetary policy.

The Corporation of London hosts its India Advisory Council meeting on 1st October, which Naina Kidwai and other leading CEOs from Mumbai visit. There’s an event with CNBC also.

The Lord Mayor of London leads a City delegation to India from 19th – 24th October. The Lord Mayor represents the interests of the financial services sector of the UK.

The Indian President visits the UK on her first state visit here. You can be assured of several events around this. I believe that her visit will also be used to mark the countdown to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The UK India Business Council will organise their annual conference and dinner on 29th October. Was a blockbuster last year, you’d better buy tickets early if you want to secure a seat.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for UK – India Trade & Investment Relations will host a dinner symposium on how British companies can participate in building India’s roads, ports and other infrastructure. I’m lead to believe that an Indian Minister will deliver the keynote address. Event takes place in conjunction with the Commonwealth Business Council on 2nd November.

Just as well I’ve been down to the gym building up my stamina. At least, I’ll be able to enjoy the merriment around Diwali this time. Can’t wait to attend all those charity fund-raisers in town 😉