British MP Lord Waverley’s Visit to India
John Desmond Forbes Anderson, the third Viscount Waverley, is a Member of the UK Parliament of the House of Lords and Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on UK India Trade & Investment. As India continues to be a key investment destination for the UK, Lord Waverley’s visit presents an opportunity for business organisations in India to present their plans to further India and UK/EU trade and investments.
Lord Waverley visited numerous states in India, such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi, Orissa, Maharashtra and Kerala, as part of the outreach programme. Through this programme, he could engage in discussions with politicians, officials, trade body representatives, business leaders and other professionals.
On Saturday, 24th September 2022, he landed in Chennai and visited RajaRajeshwari Medical College to participate in the events held at the college. He also met with representatives from M Auto to discuss the possibility of expanding their operations in the UK and encouraging e-mobility. The transition to sustainability opens the pathway for international collaboration. With the combined technological capabilities of both nations, it presents a promising future for e-mobility, infrastructure development and renewable energy integration. Lord Waverley met with Kamal Hasan, an Indian actor, filmmaker and politician, to discuss films and politics. He wrapped the day by engaging with local business owners over dinner to gain insight into the domestic market.
On Sunday, 25th September 2022, Lord Waverley reached Bangalore and had a courtesy meeting with Mr Siddaramaiah, the former Karnataka CM and the current leader of the Opposition. He also met K. C. Ramamurthy, a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha and a retired IPS officer, to discuss current affairs of mutual interest. Following this, he attended an event to interact with the local small business leaders in Bangalore and encouraged them to visit the UK to explore business opportunities. This event emphasised the importance of promoting the sustenance and growth of local businesses.
The next day, he travelled to Hosur. He visited Shanthi Bhavan school to learn about the innovative models used by the school to improve the lives of underprivileged children and their families. He also visited a temple in Rajajeshwari Nagar and saw the preparations for the first day of Navaratri. Next, he arrived at RajaRajeswari Medical College and Hospital to inaugurate a lab. He interacted with the senior management to explore the possible collaboration between the National Health Service (NHS) and hospitals in India. Following this, he visited a small-scale Technology company in Bangalore to understand more about their operations.
On Tuesday, 27 September 2022, Lord Waverley travelled to Delhi and met with journalist Kumar Rakesh at Foreign Correspondent Club in Delhi. He also had a meeting at the British High Commission in Delhi. Following this, he met with the Andhra Pradesh Industry Minister to understand more about the issues faced by Aquaculture businesses. Currently, the products get rejected at the UK Border, and an increasing rate of border rejection suggests systemic weaknesses in compliance capacities. On Wednesday, 28 September 2022, he travelled to Mumbai and met with BJP Maharashtra Spokesperson Mr Asif Bhamla and a small delegation of business leaders. The next day, he met Mr Lalit Gandhi, the President of the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture.
On Friday, 30 September 2022, he returned to Chennai and attended private meetings with business leaders. He met with Marg developers to explore the development of Ports in the UK as European port companies are looking at emerging markets for market expansion and partnerships in technical consultancy, port management and operations. He also interacted with small business leaders from Tamil Nadu, keen to expand their business ventures to the UK. Following this, he attended the graduation ceremony at Hindustan university. On the next day, he travelled to Bhubaneshwar and met with the Chief Minister of Odisha, Mr Naveen Patnaik. He also visited KIIT university for the graduation ceremony.
On Sunday, 2nd October 2022, he travelled to Kannur in Kerala and unveiled the replica of a Shiva statue at Neelakandan Ayersmaraka Mandir. He also attended an event organised by an Art school in Kozhikode. Many recent MoUs and agreements have been signed between Indian and UK Universities, such as the one between Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation and Technology (Digital University Kerala) and the Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Edinburgh for cooperation in the field of graphene. On Monday, 3rd October 2022, he travelled to Kochi and interacted at Aster Hospital regarding the inauguration of their new labs. Recently, the Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr Pinarayi Vijayan, signed an MOU between the government of Kerala and Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership’s partner Navigo to facilitate the migration of health workers from Kerala to the UK. Lord Waverley’s visit concluded with his participation in the Face Palette makeup academy's graduation ceremony. This academy trains women in makeup artistry and equips them with skills to obtain work. It also highlights the enormous role played by NGOs in initiatives to create authentic change in India.
Lord Waverley’s presence in India has showcased the vibrant and active interest of the UK in India's trade, businesses and investments. Lord Waverley attended several events with entrepreneurs or employees involved in small businesses to understand the domestic market, the significant actors and the potential of these businesses in the International market. He also participated in events at schools and attended graduation ceremonies at prestigious colleges to share his insights. He was able to experience India's rich cultural heritage as he made temple visits and joined in preparing for festivals. He met with influential scholars, journalists and politicians to understand the complexity and challenges faced when formulating policies for a country as large, diverse and populated as India. He also visited NGOs and other charitable ventures that have been generating employment, improving education, providing healthcare and enhancing the quality of life for millions. Through his role as a Member of Parliament at the House of Lords and as the Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on UK India Trade and Investment, this visit can prove to be an experience through which the ideas presented in Parliament can reflect a deeper understanding of India's business potential.
(Angela Prince is a junior fellow at Europe India Centre for Business and Industry.)