The UK can help turn Narendra Modi’s vision of a transformed Indian economy into reality, Priti Patel said during her recent visit to the country.
Patel – the UK’s Indian diaspora champion and employment minister – was speaking at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) event in New Delhi last week.
The annual conference marks the contribution of the Indian disaspora who have moved out of the country but continue to participate in the development of India.
During her visit from last Wednesday (7) to last Friday (9), Patel also travelled to Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Kolkata in West Bengal to celebrate the “vibrant contribution” of Indians worldwide.
Her address, alongside the Indian external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, was seen by Asians in Dubai, London, Mauritius, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur via video-conference.
Patel said: “Prime minister Modi has ambitious and exciting plans for India and the UK has the ability to help turn this vision into reality.”
She spoke about the Indian leader’s “landmark” visit to London in November, where he outlined his ambition for the future of the country with a population of 1.2 billion people.
“As an established partner to India, the UK stands ready to help support Modi’s vision,” Patel said.
“Modi wants to transform India’s economy, build 100 smart cities and provide electricity for all. The City of London can provide the capital. India wants investment, and UK companies are the single biggest G20 investor in India,” she added.
In the Indian capital, Patel launched the new UK-India Skills Pledge which was agreed during Modi’s visit to the UK.
In total, 11 British companies have committed to supporting skills development in India, including HSBC, Rolls Royce, G4S, BP, Aviva and M&S. They currently train around 350,000 people in India and invest around £12.7 million in development programmes.
By 2020, the companies expect to invest in 670,000 recruits and inject around £25m in skills training in India.
Patel, who is the Tory MP for Witham, added that the UK was collaborating on developing smarter green cities in India.
In Kolkata, she attended the launch of a project set to create one million green jobs, attract investment and cut carbon emissions in the city.
The UK and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation have been collaborating for two years to prepare the scheme which aims to create a “future climate smart Kolkata”. It contains recommendations across 20 sectors including disaster management, health, low-carbon procurement, resource conservation and use of solar energy.
“Britain is already leading the way in work to cut emissions and help less developed countries cut theirs. For example, over the last five years, through our £3.87 billion International Climate Fund, the UK has supported millions of the world’s poorest to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Patel said.
“And in September, the prime minister announced an increase of at least 50 per cent in the UK’s climate finance, to £5.8 billion over the next five years.
“I believe today is a huge step forward for the future of Kolkata. The low-carbon and climate resilient roadmap shows how this great city is thinking ahead, supporting sustainable economic growth, and playing its part in the international effort.”
Patel also travelled to Gujarat to discuss how bilateral trade and investment, innovation, technology and cultural ties between the state and the UK could be enhanced.