Whether you’re in India or the UK, many of us believe in Karma - when the stars align, circumstances converge, and serendipity strikes.
For me, 2017 is starting to feel very much like that. Not only is this the UK-India Year of Culture, it’s also the 70th anniversary of Indian independence. And regardless of your stance, Brexit is the perfect time for two old friends to enhance their relationship, their special relationship.
It’s very telling that India was the first port-of-call for a high-ranking UK delegation hours after Article 50 was triggered.
India is experiencing a significant economic shift as advanced telecoms, pharmaceuticals, digital services, and STEM-based technologies start to surface. Britain has long been a beacon for Indian people and business, but here’s a considerable opportunity for the UK to sign up at the germination of India 2.0.
There’s also no better time for us to launch The Indian Awards. But more on that later.
The vertical that harbours much potential in UK/India relations is the latter’s blossoming finance sector. India is undergoing a significant transformation in its monetary practices as new payment firms, small finance banks and insurance players enter the fray.
Again it’s no coincidence that Chancellor Philip Hammond brought with him Bank of England governor Mark Carney, as well as chiefs from the FCA, Standard Life, Lloyd’s of London, HSBC International, the London Stock Exchange and Citi Group.
I’ve done business between the UK and India for 10 years and the Treasury department’s statement supporting last week’s delegation is spot on: the UK is "perfectly placed" to be India's partner of choice to raise the finance it needs to deliver on its infrastructure investment plans.
One area that’s particularly rich ground for the collaboration is FinTech, and who better than than Britain - the FinTech leaders of the world - a to give India a helping hand in evolving its economy to a more digital and advanced, cashless system.
On differing scales, Lloyd’s of London, Barclays, Startupbootcamp and the LSE are all establishing new relationships around FinTech industries in the wake of Brexit.
On the Chancellor’s team for the tour was the Treasury’s special envoy for FinTech, Eileen Burbidge, who said she looked forward to “supporting the growing FinTech ecosystem of India – and exchanging ideas, talent and investment between our two countries."
“As the UK regulator deepens its cooperation with India this is an important signal to UK FinTech companies, SMEs and larger financial services institutions alike, and I find it encouraging that this collaboration will now be made even easier.”
Karmic moments are few and far between, but 2017 feels rich with synchronicity.
Just as the UK and India revisit and reflect on their longstanding relationship, the India Business Group has - with the support of Virendra Sharma MP, Chairman of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group, Lord Rana The Baron of Malone, and Lord Patel of Bradford OBE - launched The Indian Awards.
We aim to celebrate and recognise the people and the businesses that have kept the candle burning bright for UK-India relations. The nominations are open now, and the awards will culminate at a gala dinner in the Houses of Parliament on 22 June.
So whether it’s you or a colleague, your company or your client, let’s celebrate the best in UK-India business on a truly landmark, Karmic year.