#June 2017, #India-UK

When politicians misjudge the public mood and gamble, the end result can be politically catastrophic. In that sense, the UK election results are nothing short of a political earthquake – the second one to hit the UK in 10 months.

Just as David Cameron had misread the public mood in Britain when he called for the Brexit vote, Theresa May’s decision to go back to the people a full three years before her term as Her Majesty’s First Minister was to expire has also proved to be a grave political miscalculation.

#INDIA-UK, #Special Edition – May 2017

Britain’s minister in charge of international trade makes the case for an open global trading order with the Commonwealth as its cornerstone.

I hosted the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ Meeting, an event that brought together politicians, officials and policymakers from over twenty Commonwealth nations.

It is a testament to the strength of the Commonwealth that so many of its countries were represented at this landmark meeting, during which we discussed the opportunities for trade, investment, and enhanced friendship that lie ahead.

#Putting it in context, #April 2017

It may be time to anoint New Delhi as a hub for a reimagined Commonwealth, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

This week the Commonwealth Secretariat has launched a report which claims that if the UK and India sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), this could boost bilateral trade by a staggering 26 per cent. I am somewhat sceptical about the speed at which an FTA could be agreed and the figures. But nonetheless any moves in this direction is positive. It is also here that the larger canvas of the Commonwealth could provide a fillip to a much more meaningful UK-India relationship of the future. There are, however, some practical and emotional hurdles to overcome before we get there.

For instance, India has been Independent for 70 years but even now some quarters in the country are still very prickly when it comes to discussions on the colonial era and India’s relations with the UK. Fortunately, such mindsets are fast becoming a thing of the past as the post-Cold War, post-9/11, post-Brexit world gets set for the next big challenges.

As one of the former colonies that has, especially with the rise of Modi – India’s first Prime Minister to be born after India’s independence – made a decisive break with the past, India has in my view everything to gain and very little, if anything, to lose from this approach. The Commonwealth could be one such institution that can become a vehicle to drive large parts of the world into the 21st century.

Though there is an urgent need to reimagine it, not as Empire 2.0 as some misguided apologists for the past have done in Britain but as a modern, forward-looking trade bloc that can help its members navigate through the choppy and highly complex waters of the global economy.

I have consistently argued that the UK has to do much of the heavy lifting following Brexit. This may be a good time to put its considerable global heft and prestige behind the move to reform and reinvigorate the Commonwealth and reimagine it as a global trading platform fit for the 21st century and beyond. It is for Her Majesty’s government to convince India, by far the largest Commonwealth member, to become its partner in the process. It is the world’s fastest growing major economy and clearly the nation to watch out for in this century. But over the years, India has viewed the Commonwealth with less than full enthusiasm.

Today, though, the world is a different place. In the era of Donald Trump and with winds of isolationism gathering pace in some Western democracies, India’s global aspirations and its far-sighted and global minded leader Narendra Modi stand out as a bellwether in the global community.

Given his penchant for getting things done and for carrying other countries along – as he did with the International Solar Alliance – the place to start would be New Delhi.

To re-imagine the Commonwealth, the following steps need to be taken:

  • Recognition of a rebalancing and redistribution of power within the Commonwealth – not just India, but in key countries like Nigeria, Australia, Canada, Singapore and the East African economies
  • Structural reform with some stronger weightage placed on India from an administrative perspective
  • Anoint New Delhi as the hub or head office of the Commonwealth trading bloc
  • Re-imagining the shared values and shared aspirations on the lines of Modi’s inclusive Sabka Ka Saath, Sabka Vikas credo as large swathes of the Commonwealth remain impoverished
  • The fight against poverty must take centre-stage, not through lecturing but real programmes, such as the export of the Jan Dhan Yojana, India’s highly successful financial inclusion scheme.

Frankly, however, the often referred to issue in the corridors of Lutyens Delhi remains the future role of British monarchy. Having the Queen as the non-political ceremonial head of the Commonwealth has historically served it well, no doubt. And, in my view it is probably not as big an issue as some make it out to be, but the relationship between Prince Charles and Modi will play an important role in the emergence of the Commonwealth in the coming decades. The fact that the two men, who will find they have a lot in common, have not yet met, is one thing that needs to be rectified, and rectified quick.

The advantages are obvious and massive – a readymade, English speaking bloc straddling every continent of the world, with common or similar legal and other systems, a combined GDP of $10.4 trillion or 14 per cent of global GDP and a population of 2.4 billion or a third of the world.

The opportunity beckons. Does Mrs May’s government have the nimbleness to pick up the threads and weave it into a fabric?

That’s the 10-billion-dollar question.


Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

#April 2017, #Special Edition – May 2017, #Global Indian, #GLOBAL INDIAN

Baroness Usha Prashar straddles the worlds of politics and arts with comfort and ease. ‘India Global Business’ explores what being a Global Indian means to her.

How would you say the India-UK dynamic has evolved over the years?

India and UK have always had a special relationship but like any relationship it has had its ups and downs. In recent years the relationship has matured. India has become important economically and the relationship is beginning to change.

There is now much more reciprocity and a recognition that the relationship has to be based on equal footing. It is gaining a different dynamic. India @ 70 is more confident and its 70th anniversary is being marked by the UK India Year of Culture.

#April 2017, #UK/Europe, #Special Edition – May 2017, #COMMONWEALTH

A London-based policy expert weighs up the challenges and opportunities thrown up by Brexit to strike a stronger India-UK dynamic.

Talk of Brexit is never far from the headlines in the UK press. Theresa May triggering Article 50 signaled the start of the process. This presents significant challenges and opportunities for Commonwealth countries, with India being a prime example.

New research from my organisation, the Royal Commonwealth Society, reveals an overwhelming majority of British businesses want to see the Government prioritise trade deals with the Commonwealth. It is significant that nearly three quarters of all UK businesses want an Indian trade deal.

#April 2017, #INDIA-UK, #UK/Europe, #Special Edition – May 2017

‘India Global Business’ caught up with India’s minister of state for External Affairs, M.J. Akbar, during a recent London visit to attend the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting.

The Commonwealth must become more people-centric and find ways of creating meaning for the citizens of the 52 member countries, India’s minister of state for external affairs M.J. Akbar believes.

In his message at the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the minister also highlighted India’s hope that the organisation will work towards increasing the things it has in common.

#April 2017, #Commonwealth, #Special Edition – May 2017, #COMMONWEALTH

François-Philippe Champagne is Canada’s Minister for International Trade with over 20 years’ experience working for major companies worldwide. ‘India Global Business’ caught up with the minister soon after the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting in London recently to explore the potential of India-Canada ties within a broader multilateral context.

What is the status of the Canada-India free trade agreement?

The negotiation of the Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) began in November 2010. Nine rounds of negotiations have been held to date; the latest of which was in March 2015. And, last fall, my predecessor, Chrystia Freeland, met with her Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, during the 3rd Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment in Toronto.

#April 2017, #Commonwealth

India holds the key to taking the Commonwealth lead in sustainable solutions for development.

We face an immense global challenge of developing sustainably. We know climate change already contributes to migration and conflict. Some Commonwealth countries are unable to generate the economic growth they badly need to become more resilient. In contrast, India has developed successfully into the world’s seventh largest economy, and third largest by purchasing power parity, hence increasingly a world leader in economic growth.

#April 2017, #Commonwealth, #Special Edition – May 2017, #COMMONWEALTH

It is time for the Commonwealth to introspect on its role for the 21st century and look at adding new members and acquiring a sharper financial focus.

As a British citizen of Indian origin born in Uganda, I enjoy a triple connection with the Commonwealth. I was therefore drawn towards speaking in a recent debate on the Commonwealth in the House of Lords — almost like a magnetic field.

#April 2017, #Commonwealth, #Special Edition – May 2017, #COMMONWEALTH

The Commonwealth held a first-of-its-kind trade ministers’ meet recently to inject much-needed vigour into the organisation. The man behind the summit writes exclusively for ‘India Global Business’.

The inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting (CTTM) on 9th March 2017 was an important moment for the Commonwealth. As many as 35 trade ministers from across the world, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa and the UK, came together not just for the sake of old ties, but to consider how the network can build an “Agenda for Growth” that will challenge economic stagnation and a growing protectionist clamour in global markets.