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February 1st, 2008

British PM Gordon Brown visits India

The India-U.K. annual summit was held in New Delhi on January 21. The delegation from the United Kingdom was led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and that from India was led by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Strategic Partnership

India and the U.K. share a Strategic Partnership. The two sides underscored their commitment to the Strategic Partnership launched in 2004 and reaffirmed their shared conviction in the values of democracy, fundamental freedoms, pluralism, rule of law, respect for human rights and multilateralism in the international political and financial architecture as the means to tackle global challenges effectively. The close bilateral relationship has already led to growing cooperation in global affairs and substantial expansion in the bilateral engagement in multiple fields. Building on the achievements of the 'New Delhi Declaration' (2002) and 'India-U.K. Joint Declaration' (2004), the two sides commit themselves to strengthening and deepening the comprehensive Strategic Partnership that exists between the two countries, which is underpinned by growing economic ties and the presence of a large Indian diaspora in the U.K.

Economic & Commercial

Bilateral economic linkages are strengthening through increasing trade and investment flows. The U.K. is the third-largest cumulative investor in India. India has emerged as one of the largest investors in Britain, including several major acquisitions, reflecting the maturing nature of the bilateral economic partnership. The U.K. is among India's important global trading partners. The two sides acknowledged the potential for greater collaboration, especially in hi-tech research (ICT, life sciences, nano-technology etc.), advanced manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, healthcare, agricultural products and processed foods, higher education and other service sectors.

Both sides took note of the outcome of the fourth meeting of the India-U.K. Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), held in London on December 13, 2007. This meeting reviewed various aspects of bilateral trade and received valuable feedback from businesses on both sides on measures that could further enhance bilateral trade and investment flows. India and the United Kingdom agreed to cooperate in developing collaboration between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The Prime Ministers welcomed the meeting of a CEOs' Round Table and Entrepreneurs' Summit of Indian and U.K. business leaders in Delhi. In light of the rapidly growing trade and economic relations and the rapidly evolving pattern of international competitive advantage, both governments acknowledged the considerable potential for bilateral trade, investment and services. They noted the importance of improving market access through liberalisation and facilitating movement of professionals across a broad range of sectors of interest to both sides.

Both sides took note of the large opportunities in the infrastructure sector, in the context of the massive infrastructure development programmes being undertaken in India. Facilitating the flow of information on the infrastructure projects being undertaken would encourage business partnerships. Both sides agreed to take forward proposals for the establishment of a capacity building programme in India for publicprivate partnership in infrastructure with U.K. support.

India and Britain noted the role played by people of Indian origin in Britain. Through their hard work, dynamism and entrepreneurial talents they have made enormous contributions towards strengthening bilateral ties.

Education

The two sides noted the traditionally close ties between the two knowledge societies in the field of higher education. They recognised that the UK-India Education & Research Initiative (UKIERI), launched in April 2006, was playing an important role in fostering such contacts.

They further noted the huge expansion planned in the Indian higher education sector which would increase gross enrolment ratio by five percentage points and include the establishment of a range of Central government institutions of excellence including eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), seven new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research and 30 new Central universities.

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High Commission celebrates Republic Day

On the 59th Republic Day on January 26, Indian High Commissioner Kamalesh Sharma unfurled the tricolour to the rendition of the national anthem. Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Murli Deora, who was on an official visit to Britain, was also present on the occasion. Addressing a gathering at the High Commission, the High Commissioner focused on the President's Republic Day speech, especially the importance of achieving all-inclusive growth. "Our pledge will remain unfulfilled until, as Gandhiji had said, we have wiped every tear in every eye," he said, quoting from the President's speech. Delivering his last speech as the High Commissioner for India to Britain, he highlighted the progress Indo-British relations had made in the past three years. India is the second-largest investor in Britain; more than 100 flights a week operate between Britain and India; more than 60 Indian companies trade on the London Stock Exchange; nearly half a million tourists visit Britain; and Indians are the second-highest spenders in Britain, only next to their compatriots in the United States.

Mr. Sharma also dwelt on India's importance historically as a knowledge society. He recalled the British Prime Minister's visit to Bangalore in January last year as Chancellor, when he characterised the civilisational inheritance of India as the foundations of a knowledge society.

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80 percent literacy by 2012

The Indian government is targeting 80 percent literacy by 2012, against the present 65.38 percent, with an allocation of Rs. 850 billion for the education sector during the 11th Five Year Plan. "We are committed to complete literacy by 2015," said A.K. Rath, Secretary, Secondary Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resources Development.

Officials said the money earmarked for education during the 11th Five-Year Plan was five times the budgeted allocation in the previous five-year plan. The bulk of it is for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the ministry's flagship programme.



HCL introduces $350-laptop

Indian firm HCL Infosystems on January 15 launched two laptop variants, HCL MiLeap X Series (priced at $357) and HCL MiLeap Y Series ($765).

"Our objective was to launch a laptop that will take technology to the masses. We have not compromised on any feature at all. It is just like any other laptop," said Ajai Chowdhry, chairman and CEO, HCL Infosystems Ltd.



First digital entertainment city

India's first digital entertainment city is coming up in Hyderabad. It will house animation companies, film production houses, music and television studios and an entertainment complex.

The Andhra Pradesh Government has joined hands with a consortium of animation and gaming firms and production houses for the project.



Reliance hits new milestone

For the first time ever, the Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries Ltd.'s (RIL) three-quarter turnover exceeded Rs. 1,000 billion, the company said in a statement. The company declared a turnover of Rs. 358 billion for the third quarter of the current financial year. The company also had reported a turnover of Rs. 334 billion and Rs. 297 billion in the first and the second quarters of this financial year. Reliance now reports a record 26 percent growth in quarterly growth on a year-on-year basis.



50 patents granted every day

In the first three quarters of this fiscal, India's patent offices issued some 10,130 patents, more than double the annual number they granted only two years ago.

The country, which has one of the most stringent patenting regimes in the world after Japan and Germany, has been granting 50 patents on average a day.

The rate is comparable to the patent grants made in advanced intellectual property regimes such as the United States and the European Union when measured in terms of patents granted against applications made.



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