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June 15th, 2008

India-Scotland Business Forum held in Edinburgh

The India-Scotland Business Forum was held in Edinburgh from June 11 to 13, jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Scottish Development International and fully supported by the Scottish Government. Around 300 companies, both from Scotland and India registered for the Business Forum, which was held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

The event was facilitated and coordinated by the Consulate General of India in Edinburgh. The Business Forum meetings were inaugurated by the Rt. Hon. First Minister Alex Salmond.

Speaking at the inaugural function, the First Minister set the tone for the meetings by referring to the success of the Indian economy on the one hand and Scotland being forecast as Europe's place of the future, which made cooperation between India and Scotland 'unstoppable'.

He outlined various potential areas of cooperation, including energy technology and wind technology for electricity generation. He referred to Scotland as an essential destination choice for India and vice-versa. He advised Scottish companies to use the opportunity of the Business Forum as a springboard for further success.

In a special address to the delegates at the inaugural ceremony, the Indian Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Kapil Sibal, highlighted that Scotland had stake in India's economic success and that cooperation and coordination was the way forward, emphasising that such partnership would be on a 50:50 basis.

He identified avionics/defence systems, automotive industry and public transportation as some of the important areas of cooperation. He said, while Scotland could gain access to India's large market, India would gain access to technology from Scotland. "Concept global - deliver local" was his catchy mantra for investors in India.

The new High Commissioner of India to the U.K., Mr. S.S. Mukherjee, especially participated in the Forum to give further impetus to the cooperation between India and Scotland for which immense potential is available.

The focus of the event was on specialised sectors of business like renewable energy, IT-ITES, energy - oil and gas and life sciences.

Apart from the opportunities generated during the Business Forum for interaction between business executives from India and Scotland, some of the social events including a welcome reception organised by Mr. Jim Mather, Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism at the Edinburgh Castle as well as a gala dinner hosted by Ms. Lena Wilson, CEO of Scotland Development International, Ms. Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scotland Chamber of Commerce, provided an excellent opportunity for the business leaders to have greater informal interactions.

The event was a great success in generating much needed visibility to the excellent existing economic and commercial cooperation between India and Scotland.


President appeals to make conservation of nature a people's movement

President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil has said that people should focus their thoughts on keeping the planet safe from environmental degradation. On the occasion of the World Environment Day on June 5 and the presentation of the Indira Gandhi Prayavaran Puraskar, the President said that society would have to contribute to the task of conservation of nature and environment and make it a people's movement in which local bodies, civil societies and NGOs could participate. Referring to this year's World Environment Day slogan, she expressed the hope that new and advanced technologies would play a key role in achieving the objective of making the right choices to help reduce carbon emission. Excerpts from her speech:

"The World Environment Day is celebrated each year with a view to stimulating global awareness and encouraging people to become active participants in the sustainable and equitable development process so that all nations and its people enjoy a more prosperous future. It was on this historic day in 1972, that the United Nations Conference on Human Environment began in Stockholm. Smt. Indira Gandhi, our then Prime Minister, was the only Head of Government who travelled to Stockholm to participate in the 1972 Conference. By stating that poverty was the worst polluter, she highlighted the link between environmental conservation and elimination of poverty. This launched a global debate on the need to look at poverty eradication, developmental imperatives and environmental concerns as interdependent objectives.

Twenty years later, at the 1992 Rio Conference and, 30 years later at the 2002 Johannesburg Summit, the leaders of the world emphasised that sustainable development as a development paradigm should address the economic, social and environmental needs of society, and recognised that for the developing countries eradicating poverty would be an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Therefore, today, is an appropriate occasion to re-commit ourselves to ensuring that the sustainable development process provides to all our people - health, nutrition, education and housing so that all can live a life of dignity in a clean and healthy atmosphere. Indeed, this should be a collective global endeavour for the international community that established a global partnership to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The 21st century is confronted with the global challenge of climate change. Though all countries contribute, to some extent, to the generation of greenhouse gases, the contribution of developing countries like India is vastly different and far lower than that of developed countries.

The developed countries have to their account the historical emissions of GHGs since the Industrial Revolution.

In fact, the harshest impact is being felt by the poorest in the world who have had hardly any share in causing this problem. Global discussions on climate change must, therefore, bear in mind that the process of burden sharing should be fair and in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities."

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Railway revenue up 19.85%

Robust passenger traffic and booming freight traffic has led the Indian Railways to sustain its growth momentum in the fiscal year. Total earnings of the railways increased by 19.85 percent during the first two months of 2008-09. Total earnings on an originating basis during April-May 2008 have increased to $3.11 bn, as against $2.59 bn in the corresponding period last year.


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