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Opinion

Wales is hopefully at the cusp of an Indian summer

01 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Vikram Doraiswami

Vikram K. Doraiswami, India’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

Just three hours drive from London, and under-visited by Indian travellers, Wales is hopefully at the cusp of an Indian summer, literally and figuratively.

Of course, this has been a long time coming and it promises to be a great partnership.

Indians of my generation got to know of Wales thanks to Glamorgan cricket club, who hired Indian cricket legend Ravi Shastri in the 1980s. But we ought to have known of Wales for other reasons as well, from Jack Daniels—a Welshman who started the eponymous American distillery, to marvellous Welsh cakes.

Billions of these fruity slices have been dunked into tea or otherwise scarfed by millions of Indians, including in packaged treats from that most Indian of bakery companies, Brittania.

Trade and investment

Bakery apart, India’s ties with Wales been driven by trade and investment, and by a vibrant and successful community of people of Indian origin.

And thus, there could be no more fitting tribute to the value we place on this partnership than the fact that Wales has declared 2024 the year of ‘Wales in India’.

Through this year, Indians will look forward to a celebration of this partnership, while looking at ways to anchor our respective growth strategies in each other’s strengths.

What might these drivers of growth be? Everything that is technology-based, such as renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, material science and semiconductors, to food processing and tourism. Building shared research and development centres, manufacturing facilities, and new partnerships will foster mutually-reinforcing economic growth and thus, stronger ties.

Businesses from India are already showing the way: Indian pharma firm Wockhardt has an industrial base in Wrexham which employs 400 people on-site. And that’s not counting among foreign friends of Wrexham a few Hollywood heroes who promote its brilliant football club.

And Airbus’s multi-billion-pound new aircraft contract with Air India literally makes Wales the wingman of Indian aviation, as this factory now hires Welsh workers to build wings for Air India in North Wales, generating over £100m of investment.

Higher education

Higher education is another area of Welsh excellence: some 2000 Indian students have voted with their feet to study at your Universities. Not only does this bring in revenue, it deepens cultural exchanges between communities. After all, when these young Indians create new jobs, it is more likely that they will do so with Welsh friends.

Of course, investment flows both ways. Today, the Indian market is the world’s most attractive destination. The fastest growing major economy, India’s nearly $4tn GDP and the dynamism of its tech and startup sectors make it an obvious destination for Welsh firms. With the world’s largest youth demographic on Earth, and a long standing familiarity with UK’s products, Welsh businesses can sell everything Wales makes from wool to whisky and everything in between. Put it this way: India imported around 219 million bottles of UK whisky in 2022. But that was only 2% of our consumption, as thirsty Indians drained 2 billion bottles that year.

Today, Welsh businesses must make India part of their future growth strategies. Indeed, India is creating a more conducive investment environment for Welsh businesses, offering incentives, infrastructure development support, and streamlined regulatory procedures. Ask, for instance, Penderyn, who have gotten the memo about Indian interest in whisky and have announced an expansion of its distillery to India this February.

Wales in India

And so, my colleagues and I are delighted to celebrate ‘Wales in India’ by organizing for the first time a joint event at India House in London with the First Minister, in time for St David’s day. The event brings together businesses, innovators, and leaders to discuss investment business, communities and culture.

For India, we hope our close collaboration with Wales can serve as a template for other regions of the UK to recognize the value that the 5th and 6th largest economies can offer each other. Indeed, 2024 should be a very exciting year for Wales-India relations and we look forward to playing our part in it.

Just don’t ask Indians—who are literalists with English spellings—to pronounce Wales’ longest place name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Just don’t bring your violent discrimination against Muslims and Sikhs with you…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Drakeford and Co must wear ‘blinkers’ when they go out East, although I doubt it would worry the Baroness……

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

For some background on our relationship with India see…

@Swansea History: The Welsh and Empire, Early Reflections on India by Rhys Owens…

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

We had a superb European cornucopia 22 miles from our shores till the idiots gamed it away.

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