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

Enterprise at Downing St

It was an honour to be invited by the Prime Minister and Mrs Brown to a reception at Downing St for entrepreneurs a few days back.

The reception coincided with the launch of a new strategy for enterprise and a set of counterproposals by the Conservatives. From my experience of starting businesses in the UK and in India, I have to say that the UK is way ahead and easier to navigate for the budding entrepreneur. We’re always going to have issues, and we’re always going to feel that the Government isn’t doing as much as it can to reduce red tape. However, if one takes an objective look (at our bottom line), our businesses are growing.

In conversation with the PM, many of us expressed that we faced the real danger of talking ourselves into a recession. Despite the negative media that the economy is receiving, the overwhelming consensus was that our businesses were growing, orders and contracts were being sealed and in general terms, we were all confident of weathering any economic downturn that we may face.

However, what I found very interesting was that everyone I spoke with at the reception said that they already had some kind of relationship with a high growth economy like India or China. Whether it was the lady who specialises in glass architecture, or the guy from Wales who’s set up an incubator for hi-tech companies in Wales.

Looks like the Government’s fear that medium sized businesses weren’t aware of the opportunities of India and other high growth economies presented, is misplaced. Raising awareness is not the problem. What they do need to worry about are the next steps…

Companies like mine specialise in helping British companies crack India. www.saffronchase.com