ISSUES: Indian businesses want a reasonable visa system
A high-level industry delegation from India is set to call on the UK government to ensure a pragmatic and flexible visa regime to foster greater business engagement between the two nations. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) delegates plan to raise the issue during a three-day visit to Britain, which opened with an annual conference titled ‘The Future of UK-India Economic Relations’ in London on Thursday (9). “It is important that the issue of migration is addressed in the context of the times we are living in. We are very keen that the UK takes a pragmatic approach to the issue,” said CII director-general Chandrajit Banerjee. “Most of the Indian companies which have come to the UK have added tremendously, not only to the economic side but actually also have been among the largest employers. They have been employing people from the UK but there is sometimes need for various special skills where you need more flexibility. “That is the area where we really would like to see mobility being allowed and flexibility brought in,” he explained, in reference to the intra-company transfer (ICT) route used mostly by Indian IT companies to transfer staff from India to the UK. There are also further complications as the UK does away with its Tier 1 points-based visa system, which may affect CII’s London office. “London has been one of our oldest offices and we would like to remain fully functional, and in fact expand. We would like to follow the rules. And the rules as they are, we are finding it prohibitive in taking the same route,” he said. The Indian high commissioner to the UK, Ranjan Mathai, echoed the concerns and highlighted that it was “appropriate to make representations on visa concerns through the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of the UK Home Office”. The director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), John Cridland, agreed the issue was “a real concern” but stressed that the future of Indian-UK business cooperation was “exciting and full of opportunities”. “The state of relations between the UK and India is genuinely in a good place. The UK last year invested more in India than America and Japan combined. India invests more in the UK than it invests in the whole of the rest of Europe combined,” added Kumar Iyer, British deputy high commissioner (Mumbai) and director-general UK Trade and Investment (UKTI-India). The delegation, led by the CII president and chairman of TIL Ltd Sumit Mazumder, will also take part in a roundtable on ‘Make in India’ hosted by the Indian High Commission. “The Indian government has made a lot of positive changes which have yielded results on the ground. It’s really going to be a new India, a different India, growth story India. We would encourage UK companies to take advantage of this opportunity,” Mazumder said.