“The relationship, that living bridge that we have with India is so valuable because we share so many goals, and energy and climate change is no different,” said UK Secretary of State for Energy and Net Zero Claire Coutinho as she addressed the India Global Forum (IGF) annual Diwali Reception in London this week.
“The innovation, the people, the finance expertise, the brilliant technologies that we are working across borders is hugely important to us to make sure that we can achieve our goal together,” she said.
On a lighter note, the relatively new Cabinet minister pointed out how she’s now one in a long line of British Indian frontline politicians and how Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is inspiring a whole new generation of kids in the UK as the country’s first British Hindu PM.
“The Prime Minister recently said that it’s amazing that he's the first Hindu Prime Minister of this country, but it's even more amazing that it's no big deal… but for some very little people it is a very big deal,” she noted.
The IGF festive gathering at the St. James’s Court, A Taj Hotel, brought together community leaders, senior diplomats, entrepreneurs and business leaders active in the UK-India corridor as well as cross-party parliamentarians.
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IGF Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa said in his welcome address: “We cannot allow this relationship to become a political football that is tossed around in the political arena. And I am therefore so pleased that, as every year, we have representatives from both the main political parties.”
Jonathan Reynolds, UK shadow secretary of state for business and trade, expressed the Opposition Labour Party’s commitment towards the proposed UK-India free trade agreement (FTA).
He said: “Trade deals if they are done right could, and I think would, deliver a new golden age of British-India cooperation and strengthen quality of that relationship.
“And we are very much committed in principle on the Labour side to seeing that succeed. We know there are a few things left to do, but you have our absolute commitment to continue work with the business community here in the UK to make sure that it is everything that it could and should be.”
His shadow cabinet colleague, Liz Kendall, added: “My absolute priority as a member of Labour's shadow cabinet, and in charge of Work and Pensions, is to use the power of technology to transform the lives of people in this country to grow our economy, but also to radically reform our public services.
“There is much I believe we can learn for what is happening, the dynamism that's shown in India, and I've discussed this with the High Commissioner already, there is huge potential and huge opportunity for us to to learn from what you're doing.”
Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner of India to the UK, also spoke of the “enormous opportunity” of the bilateral relationship and the importance of looking ahead to the future.
He said: “We are in the most exciting opportunity to leverage technology and to deploy it at scale in India through partnerships that will be second to none.
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“IGF offers an opportunity to explore these, but the relationship itself is the best testing ground for making a change for the world. To that, let me wish you the opportunity to make Diwali truly a festival for the future.”
*Info: India Global Forum (IGF)