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Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry

May 1st, 2008

Gordon Brown addresses LFIN annual luncheon

What a great pleasure it is to be here. I congratulate Labour Friends of India on everything that they do and to say, that for me, the pleasure of being here is all the much greater because of my visit to India very recently.

I was first made aware of everything that happens in India by my uncle. He went to India in the 1960s to be a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology. For the years that he was there and coming back and forward, I used to get slideshows of India, I used to get books about India, I got mementoes of India, I fell in love with India and everything I heard about its history and its people and its great struggles for the future. So, I was brought up from a very early age on how India was developing as a country.

For this reason, it was a great pleasure to actually go back and be able to visit the Indian Institute of Technology, and the University of Delhi to receive from them, and they were very kind, a honorary degree. To find out that there are now 300,000 students attached to that university, highlights just so much, that education in the whole of India is expanding.

I know from a previous visit to India, when I went to Mumbai, my visit was dominated by what was happening on 'Big Brother' and Shilpa Shetty and attitudes in Britain to India, but on these occasions that I've been in India, I've been struck by the warmth and hospitality in the Indian people, by the strength of relationships that are developing between our two countries, and by the importance of us doing more and more in the years to come to make the strategic partnership we have with India, even stronger for the future. And, that's why I am so pleased that so many people who are making a contribution to relationships between Britain and India are here today.

Let me thank Stephen Pound for being the Chairman. He has been a fantastic Chairman for Labour Friends of India over the past five years and we are all very grateful to him for volunteering to do that. May I also thank Barry Gardiner for his vision of founding Labour Friends of India. Let me thank him for what he has done and what he continues to do.

Let me thank all those who are sponsoring this event today, and I will not read out the full list that Stephen read out, but let me thank Virgin Atlantic, Deutsche Bank, Saffron Chase and ICICI Bank for what they're doing and let me thank also Sewa International, the Hindu Forum of Britain, Muslim Council of Britain, and the Institute of Jainology for everything that they're doing. I want to thank a special number of individuals who support the work of Labour Friends of India and they do so directly and indirectly.

Continued here

Lord Mayor invites more Indian students in UK

Alderman David Lewis, Lord Mayor of the City of London, has sought entry of foreign law firms into India. The Mayor, who led a business delegation to India recently, said this while speaking at a round-table on 'Business Competitiveness in a Globalised World', organised by the Indo-British Partnership (India) on April 22. The Lord Mayor also made a strong pitch for more elbowroom for multinational banks in India.

Recounting Britain's experience with liberalisation, the Lord Mayor said: "Entry of global law firms will allow Indian companies to access world class legal services at a lower fee." The Lord Mayor further said: "I invite Indian investors and workers to the City of London." A liberalised economy would ensure inclusive development, he asserted.

Jayant Dasgupta, joint secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in his address, said there was no gainsaying the fact that liberalisation was good but the socio-economic conditions in the country warranted a gradual process. However, even as foreign banks sought to increase the number of branches in India, the emphasis also needed to be on penetrating rural areas, Dasgupta added.

Martin Hagen, vice-president, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; Ms. Nipun Gupta, Partner and Head of India Group, Bird and Bird; Vijaya Sampath, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, Bharti Enterprises; and Amber Dubey, director, Business Advisory Services, KPMG, also addressed the con-ference. Ajit K. Nagpal, member, CII National Committee on Healthcare & chairman, Executive Council, Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre delivered the welcome address.

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Record foodgrain production

India's foodgrain production reached a record high during the crop year 2007-08. The Agriculture Ministry put the total production at 227.32 million tonnes (MT) for the crop year 2007-08 ending-May, which was 10.04 MT higher than that of the previous year. This coincides with a slew of measures the government has taken over the month, including banning non-basmati rice exports and cutting import duty on edible oils to help increase their availability to contain prices.

Foodgrain demand in the country is estimated at 214.03 million tonnes for 2007-08.

India to raise cap in defence FDI

India will raise the 26 percent cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence manufacturing sector to enable the co-development with Russia of a multi-role transport aircraft (MRTA), the Upper House of Parliament was informed on April 23. "There is a proposal to relax foreign direct investment cap of 26 percent to facilitate co-development of a multi-role transport aircraft," Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh informed the Rajya Sabha. "The matter is under process for approval from the competent authority."

New National Mining Policy

The new National Mineral Policy (NMP), which seeks to ensure assured rights in mineral concessions, envisages foreign direct investment (FDI) of $2.5 billion annually, the Upper House of Parliament was informed on April 22.

"An FDI of about $2.5 billion per annum is expected in the mining sector from the fifth year of implementation of the new NMP," Mines Minister Sis Ram Ola said. However, he pointed out that the government had not accepted the Hoda Committee's report in toto on the NMP.

The Hoda committe sought to ensure transferability of mineral concessions and transparency in allotment of concessions in order to reduce delays which are seen as impediments to investment and technology flows in the domestic mining sector.

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ADB loan for power project

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan amounting to $450 million to build a 4,000-megawatt, energy-efficient coal power plant in India.

The Manila-based bank said it executed the loan agreement with Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd., which is to build, own and operate the Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project in the western state of Gujarat.

"The project will not only provide a sig-nificant volume of additional electricity to address shortages, it will also promote private investment in power and show good practices in building and financing large scale power projects in India through public-private partnerships," said Takeo Koike, an investment specialist with the bank.

On the other pages

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India Pakistan Sri Lanka Bangladesh UK

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