The EuropeIndia40 Leaders list is a compilation of young, accomplished individuals in India UK and India EU corridor. This year, the ceremony was held virtually on the 13th of December, with 9 women and 11 men shortlisted as awardees, representing 13 different nations, including France, the UK, Germany, Finland, and India. Distinguished members of parliament were present to grace the ceremony and speak; Ms. Valerie Vaz, a senior Member of Parliament from the UK; Mr. Morten LØKKEGAARD, Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Delegation for relations with India—European Parliament; and Mr. Lavu Sri Krishna Devarayalu MP from the Indian Parliament were all warmly welcomed by EICBI chairperson, Mr. Sujit S. Nair.
After the inaugural speeches and awarding a few of the leaders, Ms. Valerie Vaz graciously joined the ceremony, she was greeted and given the platform by EICBI Vice Chair Mr. Aarein Areti. Ms. Valerie thanked everyone and connected with Indian Member of Parliament Mr. Lavu Sri Krishna Devarayalu, who spoke before her, addressing the important linkage between India and the UK. Highlighting that the EU is the largest trade partner, she acknowledged how Britain’s involvement in the EU helped serve as a connecting bridge between Europe and Commonwealth countries.
Valerie Vaz is a Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom and has been affiliated with the Labour party since 2010. She was present to speak on UK India Relations and grace the 2023 EuropeIndia40 cohort.
Recognizing her position in the opposition, Vaz expressed optimism about her party's chances of coming into power. She emphasized the importance of strengthening the link the UK has with India and the EU. The Labour Party member further admitted frustrations regarding the UK's departure from the Horizon program since the aspect of certainty is crucial to scientists and researchers and financial planning becomes burdensome. Vaz underscored the significance of international collaboration in science, emphasizing the global responsibility to safeguard the planet for future generations. She said, ‘Our collaboration—any collaboration in science—is important for our planet, and whilst it’s lovely to have differences, we are all one planet. We’ve just got to keep it safe for future generations.”
Coming as both a counselor and a lawyer, she commended the EU-UK parliamentary assembly for trade cooperation and agreement, having won very useful concessions. Additionally, the parliament’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic proved its capability and efficiency. Moreover, the need for free movement across borders was urged with regards to the challenges faced by artists post-Brexit and fostering cross-cultural exchange. Expressing a keen interest in facilitating internships for scholars and promoting firsthand experience of parliamentary proceedings, Vaz noted the importance of open dialogue and conferences, where concerns from constituents can be addressed directly. She proposed extending opportunities to scholars, students, and interns and promoting cross-border exchange of ideas and experiences. ‘to have people come and see how the parliament works for an internship maybe and go back to their country, to pick up some of the good ideas and reject some of the bad ideas as well.’ Vaz said, indicating the pivotal role of the next generation in decision-making.
In her concluding remarks, she highlighted this further in the context of COP28 and stressed the need for leaders to create a safer world for future generations while transcending historical issues like colonialism. Vaz expressed her commitment to ongoing dialogue and collaboration between the UK, India, and beyond. As the UK navigates its evolving relationship with India and the broader global community, her aspirational perspective offers a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities laid out before us.
(Purvi Agarwal is a research fellow at Europe India Centre for Business and Industry.)