April 1st, 2008
EAM Pranab Mukherjee meets David Miliband
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met the Rt. Hon David Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the U.K. in London on March 26.
The meeting was in continuation of the exchanges at the highest level between India and Britain, especially in light of the recent visit of the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to India. The two leaders had an extensive exchange of views on bilateral relations, and on regional issues of mutual interest.
Mukherjee renewed his invitation to David Miliband to pay an official visit to India, which was accepted. Dates for the visit in the second half of 2008 would be worked out through diplomatic channels.
New India needs new engagement, Gordon Brown to India Inc
A new India, with rising confidence, was clearly visible and this called for a newer form of engagement with India, said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister was interacting with a 14-member delegation from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), led by Sunil Bharti Mittal, CII president and Bharti Enterprises chairman & group CEO at Downing Street in London on March 25. Asoke Mukerji, Acting High Commissioner of India to Britain, was also present.
The CII delegation was calling on the British Prime Minister in a follow-up to his visit to India in January and was accompanied by some of Britain's leading CEOs.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister noted that the relationship between the two countries was very strong. He said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he had a shared vision of expanding Indo-British trade in goods and services to more than 50 percent of that of the present over the next few years. At the same time, he strongly reiterated Britain's commitment to remaining an open economy and resisting protectionism.
The Prime Minister highlighted key decisions that would pave the way for long-term stability and growth of the economy. This included issues like energy, planning processes, transportation and infrastructure, science and innovation, skills and climate change. He also expressed a desire for speedy conclusion of multilateral trade talks over the next few months.
Discussions during the meeting revolved around opportunities for greater partnership and collaboration as well as issues of trade and investment.
The CII delegation proposed a partnership with Britain for developing a mission on skills for 1 million Indians. It was collectively felt that Britain had much to offer terms of capacity building in this regard.
In the area of innovation, both sides felt that there was tremendous potential in building innovation linkages. This was an area where British innovation and Indian SMEs could combine to take technology to the market and thereby build on strengths of both, delegation members said.
Both sides committed themselves ensuring greater engagement between British universities and Indian Industry. The delegation spoke about its current partnerships with some of Britain's leading universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, London, and Warwick and offered to catalyse the process.
In the area of climate change, it was felt that there was a business opportunity at wider level. Both sides agreed on the need for collaboration in finding a cleaner energy source. Prime Minister Brown acknowledged the need for recognising India's growth compulsions to take an agreement forward. He expressed the belief that the World Bank could play a key role in financing such a development path as well as discuss new methods of financing.
The CII delegation acknowledged that Britain had stood out by showing that the British economy had actually been able to make positive gains through outsourcing.
Brown announced that a special scheme for business leaders was being drawn up to address facilitation of business visas.
Members of the CII delegation included Dr. Jamshed J. Irani, director, Tata Sons Ltd; Sunil Kant Munjal, former president, CII and chairman, Hero Corporate Service Ltd; Malvinder Mohan Singh, CEO & managing-director, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd; C.K. Birla, chairman, Hindustan Motors Ltd; Anand Burman, chairman, Dabur India Ltd.; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director, Biocon Ltd; Rajan Navani, managing-director, Jetline Group of Companies; Ajay G. Piramal, chairman, Nicholas Piramal India Limited; Atul Punj, chairman, Punj Lloyd Ltd.; Lt. Gen (Retd.) S.S. Mehta, director general, CII; Tarun Das, chief Mentor, CII & chairman, Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd; Supriya Banerji, deputy director-general, CII and Ratika Jain, Head-CII-U.K.
This was CII's third interaction with Prime Minister Brown during the last 18 months, reflecting the deepening engagement of Indian businesses with Britain.
The delegation also called on the Duke of York and U.K.'s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.
E. Mervyn Davies OBE, chairman, Standard Chartered and chairman, Business Council for Britain, hosted a lunch for the delegation.
Baroness Shriti Vadera, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Competitiveness, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and Andrew Cahn, chief executive, U.K. Trade & Investment were also present.
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India 2nd largest mobile market
India is set to emerge as the second largest mobile phone market in the world after China in April with the subscriber base already crossing the 250-million mark, the country's telecom regulator said in a report on March 24.
China and the U.S. have 550.50 million and 260.50 million subscribers respectively for mobile phone services at present, against 250.93 million for India, as per the study released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
"India is likely to become the second-largest wireless network in the world after China in the first half of April 2008," the study said, adding 8.49 million new subscribers joined the network in February.
SBI with 10,000 plus branch
State Bank of India (SBI) on March 9 became the second bank in the world to have 10,000 branches after China's Industrial and Commercial Bank of China when Finance Minister P. Chidambaram inaugurated its latest branch at Puduvayal in Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu. Sivaganga is Chidambaram's parliamentary constituency.
Delhi-based Punjab National Bank (PNB) has the second-largest network in India, with about 4,500 branches, PNB chairman K.C. Chakrabarty said.
Marine export to double
India is aiming at doubling marine exports including that of tuna fish to $4 billion by 2012, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh informed the Rajya Sabha on March 19.
Replying to a supplementary question during Question Hour, he said marine exports last fiscal were $1.8 billion and this year they are expected to touch $2 billion.
"We hope to reach $4 billion export target by 2012," he said. "53 percent of the marine exports comprise of shrimps and we need to diversify the export basket."
Export of tuna fish, which contributed to only $200 million in $1.8 billion export earnings in 2006-07, are being pushed through technology induction for catching this highly migrating species.
Mumbai airport wins award
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai won the first Frost and Sullivan Asia Pacific Aerospace and Defence Awards for Aeronautical Excellence Airport of the Year 2008 for its efforts in developing the aeronautical segment of the airport in the Asia Pacific (APAC) Region.
The award was received in Singapore recently, said G.V. Sanjay Reddy, managing director of Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL).
CSIA is one of the busiest airports in the APAC region and is currently being upgraded to cater for 40 million passengers by 2012.
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