Leading British and Indian business leaders urged a more transparent and consistent decision-making process in India, as prime minister Narendra Modi vo-wed to “ceaselessly” work towards integrating the Indian economy with the world.
A reconstituted India-UK CEOs Forum, during its first meeting last Friday (13), identified six themes as important areas of collaboration – smart cities and the digital economy; the healthcare sector; education and skills; engineering; defence and security; and financial and professional services.
Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron attended the meeting, which was co-chaired by Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry for the Indians and Standard Life chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone for the British side.
“We are confidently, consistently and ceaselessly working to integrate our economy with the world,” Modi told the gathering at 11 Downing Street, next door to Cameron’s office in London.
Cameron encouraged the company chairs and chief executives to identify the “best ways to build new trade partnerships and investment opportunities and use the strength of existing commercial relationships to identify and build more partnerships between innovative Indian and UK companies”.
A joint statement issued by Modi and Cameron said: “This forum will be tasked with advising the prime ministers about the trade and investment opportunities and challenges.”
“The common ask of the industry in both countries is a business environment characterised by simplicity in structures and processes, clarity and transparency in decision-making and uniformity and consistency in the treatment of corporates and people across borders,” Mistry said.
“The new UK-India CEO Forum provides a powerful foundation with which to implement initiatives that will bring our two countries closer together, based on mutual respect and shared values,” he added.
Vodafone’s announcement of a £1.3-billion investment package for India has been highlighted as a “big positive story” of Modi’s three-day UK visit, as the company has been at the centre of taxation rows in the past.
Other key announcements included King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Indo-UK Healthcare Pvt Ltd’s pact to open King’s College Hospital in Chandigarh, which will lead to the creation of jobs for 2,500 nurses and 500 doctors.
Genus ABS will be investing £1 million in India, providing the latest dairy genetics and constructing a state-of-the-art facility near Pune in Maharashtra, while Lightsource, the largest solar PV generator in the UK and Europe, has announced a £2 billion investment in India.
E-commerce cloud platform provider cloudBuy is signing a contract with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for an online business-to-business marketplace. Over the next five years the platform is projected to facilitate transactions worth £3.5 billion and increase trade further between India and the UK, with an estimated boost to the British economy of £70 million.
In a deal worth £20 million, Holland & Barrett International announced it has partnered with Apollo Hospitals, and will open 1,000 outlets in India over the next five years, expected to create 1,500 jobs.
Members of the UK-India CEO Forum
The UK contingent
Chair: Sir Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Standard Life
Members: Ian King (BAE); Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP); Lord Kakkar (UCL Partners); Sir John Peace (Standard Chartered); Bob Dudley (BP); Inga Beale (Lloyds of London); Vittorio Colao (Vodafone); Stuart Chambers (ARM); Ivan Menezes (Diageo); David Whittleton (Arup); Carolyn Fairburn (CBI); Vindi Banga (GSK and M&S); Eileen Burbidge (Tech City and Passion Capital); Lord Bamford (JCB); Jitesh Gadhia (Blackstone); Warren East (Rolls Royce); Patricia Hewitt (UKIBC); Rakesh Kapoor (Reckitt Benckiser); and Douglas Flint (HSBC).
Lord Maude also attended the forum.
The Indian contingent
Chair: Cyrus Mistry, chairman of Tata Group
Members: Dr Jyotsna Suri (Bharat Hotels Ltd); Sunil Bharti Mittal (Bharti Enterprises Ltd); N Chandrasekaran, (Tata Consultancy Services); Baba N Kalyani (Bharat Forge Limited); Salil Singhal (Secure Meters Ltd); Dr Rajiv I Modi (Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd); Nikhil Sawhney (Triveni Turbines Ltd); T Suvarna Raju (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd); Chandrakant K Birla (National Engineering Industries Ltd); Ajay G Piramal (Piramal Enterprises Ltd); Atul Punj (Punj Lloyd Ltd); Analjit Singh (Max India Ltd); Tulsi Tanti (Suzlon Energy); TK Kurien (Wipro Ltd); Aditya Puri (HDFC Bank Ltd); and Navtej Singh Sarna (MEA).