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Ghanshyam Nabar (L) and Pratap Singh

The Indian Banking Sector In The UK Witnesses Dramatic Changes

The Indian banking circles in the UK are witnessing dramatic changes at the top level. Pratap Singh, the No 2 in ICICI Bank quit the bank after a 15-year stint to join SBI UK as the Head of Retail & Digital Transformation two months ago. Now, the latest news is that Singh has quit SBI UK. Eyebrows are being raised about his sudden departure. Was it the public sector bank’s work culture, (read rules and regulations) that made it tough for the private sector banker? Going back to ICICI Bank is ruled out as Gaurav Arora has replaced him. Meanwhile the management of ICICI Bank has asked Lok Mishra, MD & CEO, to hold the fort as his replacement Raghav Singhal is yet to get the green signal from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This delay has seen ICICI Bank quietly withdrawing Singhal’s application from FCA.  In another development, Ghanshyam Nabar who was working for West Midlands India Partnership has turned an entrepreneur. He has set up UI Connect offering strategic consultancy between India and the UK and Europe. Shehla Hasan has quit Manchester India Partnership to head CII‘s UK and Europe operations as its Executive Director. MIP and WMIP were set up as a strong “living bridge” between the two nations, but its current defunct states are an ironic reflection of the growing India-UK relations and FTA around the corner.

Bengaluru’s Leading Hospitals Forge Ties with BAPIO Training Academy UK

Two leading Bengaluru-based hospital chains Manipal Hospital and Cloudnine Hospital have signed a MoU with the UK-based BAPIO Training Academy to develop a global training programme for post-MBBS doctors to strengthen training and advance medical education in obstetrics, paediatrics, IVF, gynaecology and foetal medicines. This MoU implemented across 29 hospitals in 12 cities enables doctors for the first time in India to take up the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology exams in India. BAPIO, The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin is a voluntary organisation for doctors of Indian sub-continental origin, established in 1996 and based in the United Kingdom. BAPIO UK team led by Dr Prof Parag Singhal signed the MoU with the heads of Cloudnine Hospitals and Manipal Hospitals — Dr R Kishore Kumar, Dr Sudarshan Ballal — signed the MoU in the presence of the British Deputy High Commissioner Bengaluru and Deputy Trade Commissioner for Investment, South Asia Chandru Iyer. The idea behind imparting training programmes is to empower the next generation of medical professionals and make a lasting impact on the future of healthcare in India.
zakir alpesh

Music Maestros Zakir, Niladri, Chaurasia's To Play Together In The UK

Just before this year ends, three music maestros from India, Zakir Hussain (tabla), Niladri Kumar (sitar) and Rakesh Chaurasia (flute) will be in the UK to enthral their fans. The trio, who from time to time collaborate with The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) which is India’s first and only professional orchestra promoted by the NCPA has regaled audiences the world over. The trio will perform at Cadogan Hall (London), Symphony Hall (Birmingham), Usher Hall (Edinburgh) between November 30 and December 3. The 2023 UK tour has been meticulously curated and planned by the NCPA chairman KN Suntook. SOI is designed to showcase the best of the music world from India for the UK audience. Zakir Hussain, the master of fusion craft, Niladri Kumar with his powerful strumming on the sitar and Rakesh Chaurasia with his soft soothing phrases on the bansuri will undoubtedly give the audience a rich musical experience.  The NCPA had commissioned Zakir Hussain to compose a Triple Concerto for tabla, sitar, bansuri and the symphony was  premiered at the September 2023 Season of the SOI in Mumbai to an applauding audience. The three concerts, part of an 8-concert tour of  the UK, will be the global premiere of the Triple Concerto. To top it all, these three concerts will be conducted by the Indian-born award winning British conductor, Alpesh Chauhan OBE. Alpesh is currently Principal Guest Conductor of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker.  
Ashesh jani

Former London-Based Banker Launches ‘Super App’ To Help Indian Diaspora

For somebody who was heading the Retail, SME & Private Banking divisions for the UK and Europe of ICICI Bank to call it quits at the peak of his career and start his own venture requires both conviction and guts. Ashesh Jani seems to have both. In 2021, 50-year old Ashesh co-founded Ribbon PLC, a digital financial services ‘super-app’, intended to offer hyper-personalized multi-currency wallets to NRIs as well as residents of India. Further, the super app also aims to assist Indians who are keen to invest in the global markets. The target clearly is the Indian diaspora. With that in mind, Jani and company have bagged the official sponsor rights for the Gibraltar Cricket team that will play matches in the European League. In his over two decades’ stint overseas that includes both Canada and the UK, he was exposed to all the challenges of financial markets and that’s what made him launch Ribbon. His notable achievements during his time at ICICI UK Plc was becoming a certified staff for the FCA Register. Ashesh’s expertise lies in the multiple top management roles he played in different countries. While in India he worked briefly with Vodafone and Tata Internet Services helping them build their sales and distribution channels. Beyond his professional pursuit, Ashesh is an advocate for sustainability and a promoter of financial literacy among the youth.
Jitendra misra

Jitendra Mishra’s ‘Baghuni’ Selected For NFDC Film Bazaar

His is a hard won success story. Odisha-born Jitendra Mishra started his career as a production manager but within two years smitten by a business bug set up his own production house Cinema4good India in 2002. And within a span of two decades has become an internationally acclaimed filmmaker. This is no mean achievement. His latest directorial venture in Odia Baghuni (Dance like a Tiger) has been selected for 2023 NFDC Film Bazaar. Interestingly, Mishra teamed up with another accomplished Odia businessman, the London based Partha Sarathi Panda whose company Glocal Films UK produced Baghuni.  The movie has been officially selected among 20 feature film projects from 11 countries for the 17th edition of the Film Bazaar, the co-production market event to be held on the side-lines of the 54th International Film Festival of India IFFI Goa at Marriott Resort in Goa from November 20-24. This award winning director made his debut as a director I Am Kalam.  His production The Last Colour, written and directed by Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna, premiered at the 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival. Mishra wears one too many hats. He is currently president of CIFEJ, Festival Director of SIFFCY, Member of Cannes Producers Network and Professional Jury in more than 40 international film festivals and forums so far. Mishra has more than 100 films in different categories.
Rahul deshpande

Indian Classical Vocalist Rahul Deshpande To Perform In The UK On Popular Demand

His performance last year in the UK was a big hit. All shows were housefull. Now he visits the UK once again by popular demand. Meet Indian classical vocalist and recipient of the National Film Award Rahul Deshpande. Forty-four year old Rahul an internationally acclaimed classical vocalist and composer has captivated audiences world over. Last year, he had three successful shows in the UK — Southampton, Harrow Leicester. Pune born Deshpande accompanied by a five-member band will perform at Kent, Harrow, Leeds and Manchester between November 25 and December 3, 2023. Deshpande will embark on a transcendent musical journey. Rahul’s famous Vasantotsav Collective will weave a tapestry of melodies. Deshpande’s enchanting tribute will become a bridge between eras, connecting the golden age of Indian music to the contemporary global stage. Deshpande has been performing from a very young age. He is known for his energetic and captivating performances and his ability to bring together diverse musical styles and genres. Over the years, he has performed in over 1000 concerts worldwide, from the United States to the United Kingdom, Canada to the Middle East. Grandson of renowned Hindustani classical vocalist Vasantrao Deshpande, he studied under the renowned tabla player and vocalist Pandit Suresh Talwalkar and Ustad Zakir Hussain. Deshpande’s performance style is a unique fusion of Indian classical music, folk music, jazz, and contemporary music.
Amish bhavna

Amish Tripathi Returns To India, Explores More Creative Options

Celebrated author-former diplomat Amish Tripathi has returned to India for good. He was probably the first non-IAS and non-IFS officer who served in the Indian High Commission’s office UK as director at Nehru Centre for nearly four years (2019-23). Undoubtedly he brought the Nehru Centre to life by organizing on an average over 20 events a month — online during Covid, then hybrid, and recently several in-person events. For his outstanding performance he was promoted as Minister for Education & Culture from his earlier rank as First Secretary Culture. Amish is back in Mumbai to promote his new book Idols: Unearthing The Power Of Murti Puja co-authored with his sister Bhavna Roy, wife of Mumbai top cop, the late Himanshu Roy. This brother-sister duo earlier wrote Dharma: Decoding The Epics For A Meaningful Life and the new book is a companion to Dharma. The authors ask, why do people worship idols? The book is an insightful and thought-provoking exploration of the philosophy and practice of murti puja. Forty nine year old Amish along with his wife Shivani Bhandari is back to Mumbai, the city that saw him emerge as a writing and publishing phenomenon with his The Shiva Trilogy and Ram Chandra series. Amish has several projects up his sleeve including becoming producer. One of his documentaries is based on the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Sunak jaishankar

Playing Straight Bat Or Soft Power Diplomacy, Jaishankar Meets Rishi Sunak

External Affairs Minister of India Dr S Jaishankar has opened his innings in London with soft power diplomacy presenting a signed bat by Virat Kohli to the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Jaishankar and his wife met the Sunak couple on the occasion of Diwali. Is Jaishankar playing with a straight bat? Or carrying some firecrackers under his sleeve?  There are several issues that need to be sorted out. Issues like attacks by the Khalistanis on the Indian High Commissioner and the High Commission office in London, pending status of the Free Trade Agreement, visa issue especially one offered to senior citizens (parents living in India) and setting up a consulate in the North of England among others. It is learnt that The High Commission of India has partnered with Wilton Park to organise conversation with Jaishankar at the Royal Over-Seas League. The conversation themed, “How a billion people see the world” will be moderated by eminent journalist and acclaimed commentator Lionel Barber. The underlying objective is to get India’s perspective on the current geopolitical landscape and how and why an enhanced engagement with the world is consequential to India’s national aspirations. Clearly, Jaishankar’s visit meets more than the eye. One dimension that seems evident is Jaishankar is trying to build a strong pro-government narrative in the run-up to 2024 General Elections.   

Air India Under Tatas Going All Out To Conquer The Skies

Air India to start direct flight between Manchester and Mumbai. Service to commence operations at the end of November or by December this year. To start there will be three flights per week. Earlier, Jet Airways used to operate this route before it closed down operations in 2019 March. North England has a catchment of over 200,000 people of Indian origin who will benefit with this direct flight as Mumbai is further connected to various destinations and passengers avail their 2-check-in bags allowance. Officials say service can start right away as it has got all approvals. What’s delaying is the lack of fleet to be pressed into this sector. The 787 are old and Air India is keen to launch its service with new aircraft.  With Tatas taking over Air India, the management has taken bold decisions to offer direct flights to Goa, Ahmedabad, Cochin and Amritsar from Gatwick, and reserved its slots at Heathrow for Mumbai and New Delhi. Competition at Heathrow to these sectors is fierce as Middle Eastern airlines managed to grab a larger slice of the cake. British Airways has a monopoly at Heathrow thus non-availability of slots compel other service providers to move out to other London Airports.
Uttarakhand summit

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Lures Investors In The UK, Signs LoI Worth Over Rs 3000 Cr

The youngest chief minister of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami with his army of key bureaucrats visited the United Kingdom to woo investors for the state’s Global Investors Summit scheduled in December 2023 in partnership with CII. Dhami met captains of industry at two major roadshows in London and Birmingham. Dhami during his three-day visit chose to address himself as Pratham Sewak of the state a la PM Modi who calls himself Pradhan Sewak. This resonated well with the UK audience. Dhami supplemented his state’s Director General of Industries, Rohit Meena’s detailed presentation with his views and became emotional sometimes. Uttarakhand’s state secretary Dr Meenakshi Sundaram, secretary of industries Vinay Pandey, and Meena gave an elaborate presentation that highlighted how the state which attracts over 65 million tourists annually has achieved double-digit growth, and how under Dhami the state had revised 27 policies in three months to ensure ease of doing business. Surely, investors were impressed as Dhami signed a Letter of Intent worth Rs 3,000 crore with Usha Breco and Proma. Dhami’s has set up an ambitious target of Rs 2.5 lakh crore as MoU’s target. The feedback from Dhami’s team indicates that the education and services sectors from the UK are keen to invest. Besides, there are plans of building skiing resorts in the state, and with the existing airport at Pantnagar being improvised and new international airports planned there and at Dehradun, things can only look up.

Actor-Lyricist Pushpa Verma Conferred Doctorate By An American University

She is an actor-lyricist-poet-producer who has deliberately kept a low profile for over two decades now. Meet Pushpa Verma who has contributed immensely to Hindi, Bhojpuri films and TV shows. And finally, the recognition of her outstanding talent did come. The Evaluation Board of the South Western American University has conferred on her with the Doctorate in Fine Arts (non-academic) degree for her creative contributions. It was not an easy rise in Bollywood; it was a hard won struggle. Often fighting against well-known lyricists and music directors as she refused to become a “ghost writer.” She shot into fame for her lyrics Tik tok tik tok darwaaza khulla chod aayi she wrote for Najayaz and the title track for multi-starrer Dharamsankat in which she played a cameo role too. She has played various character roles like mother, mother-in-law, and sister in movies starring Amitabh Bachchan, Nana Patekar, Govinda to name a few. Pushpa who has acted in over a 100 feature films, played the role of Sulochana in the most popular TV serial Ramayana. A regular at the Hindi Kavi Sammelans her poem collections- Khwabon ke Arzoo and Tumahare Liye have won her many accolades from discerning poets. Pushpa who hails from academically strong IPS and IAS family is media shy and prefers her work to speak for her. And it has.

L To R: Siddharth Sinkar, Ullas K Kamath & Pradeep Pai

Community Push: Business Conclave To Fund Saraswat Entrepreneurs

Three successful Sarawat businessmen — Ullas K Kamath, former jt managing director of Jyothy Labs (Ujjala) now venture capitalist, Pradeep Pai, managing director, Hangyo Ice Cream and Siddharth Sinkar founder director Global Chamber of Saraswat Entrepreneurs — have joined hands with UK & Co, World Konkani Centre and Global Chamber of Saraswat Entrepreneurs to encourage business ideas from their community. The trio have organized a two-day business conclave at Wonderla Amusement Park & Resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru to meet one-on-one aspiring businessmen from the Saraswat community. The first-of-its-kind Conclave promises to provide instant funds to start-ups. Kamath promises that every bright start-up idea will get a minimum cheque of Rs 5 lakh and the deserving one will get seed capital. The star attraction of the conclave will be the presence of Nandan Nilekani and Mohandas Pai from the Saraswat community to guide, mentor, and fund startups and SMEs. The objective is to promote and encourage young entrepreneurs from the community who will be provoked to become entrepreneurs by choice rather than by default. Well, all attendees will be treated to Hangyo ice cream. The Saraswat Chamber held its first conclave last year in Goa.
Indo_uk health

L to R : Alex Ellis, Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, Sir Prof Steve Powis, Prof Geeta Menon, Prof Simon Gregory, Prof-Dr Parag-Singhal

High Powered Delegation To Visit India To Forge Indo-UK Healthcare Alliance

Three times BJP MP from Bihar Dr Sanjay Jaiswal has been for quite some time convincing his party colleague Mansukh L Mandaviya, minister for health and family welfare to forge a strong Indo-UK health alliance. That’s yielding results. Now, it is learnt that a high-powered delegation from the UK’s Health sector comprising Prof Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, Prof Simon Gregory medical leader for healthcare education across the Midlands and East of England for HEE among others will be visiting India on August 4 to meet with their Indian counterparts from the health ministry. Health minister Mandaviya, Dr Jaiswal, a few MPs, and senior bureaucrats will meet at the residence of Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner in New Delhi to officially announce the Indo-UK HealthCare Alliance. According to London-based Dr Prof Parag Singhal, “The chief objective of the India UK Healthcare Alliance is to promote excellence in the Healthcare sector, and provide a platform for the healthcare institutions in two countries to create synergistic partnerships aimed at improving health outcomes.” The visiting delegation will also highlight the new interventions that are being designed by the BAPIO Training Academy UK.
Sarees ascot

First-Ever Saree Walkathon In London On Aug 6

Have you ever seen Indian women wearing a saree, bindi, and a Derby Hat at the Mahalaxmi Race Course? But in the UK last year several Indian women displayed the saree with swag and were seen at the reputed Ascot Racecourse in large numbers. Following this saree swag, a first-ever Saree Walkathon led by the British Women in Sarees Group will be held in London on August 6, 2023, to raise awareness about the handlooms of India. Women in London will walk a day before the ‘National Handloom Day’ in India on 7th August to voice solidarity with India’s Swadeshi movement. Around 500 women representing different states of India and draping different handloom weaves from their states are expected to walk past the iconic and historical London monuments, beginning from Trafalgar Square to the historic Parliament Square in Westminster, London via 10 Downing Street. The event is hosted by British Women In Sarees – a group under Dr Dipti Jain’s leadership with several Indian women’s organisations. The Kerala team is coordinated by Dr Deepa Hegde, Dr Hema Santhosh and Shirley Gibson with around 30 members. The Kerala team will be showcasing handloom settu mundu and sarees from Kuthumpully handloom, Chendamangalam kaithari, Balaramapuram kaithari, Kuthampully kaithari, Karimpuzha kaithari. They will also do a traditional Kerala dance at Parliament Square before finishing with a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
Rikant pitti

EaseMyTrip Spreads Its Wings, Enters UK, Europe Markets

EaseMyTrip, a leading online platform that offers “end to end” travel solutions is expanding its operations in the UK and Europe markets. Confirming this move is its young co-founder Rikant Pittie. Thirty-four year old Pittie is gearing up to serve the travel needs of high-street customers. is strategically planning to extend its presence beyond the UK market.  It is learnt that this online platform is eyeing the entire European markets. Pittie has also put in place a team to focus on this market, and make necessary preparations and forging partnerships to ensure a successful launch and operation in these new regions. Rikant’s primary objective is to offer highly competitive prices on flights, hotels, and package holidays for his customers in the UK. Additionally, he is also exploring opportunities to expand its offerings and include exclusive non-air products for his customers. The company will soon introduce distinctive products that meet their various requirements and preferences of its customers.
Parveen Rani Tushar

Now, Indian Origin Mother-Son Duo Make Their Mark In The UK’s Political World

Looks like the United Kingdom’s desi Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has set the trend and many are following his footsteps into the political world.  Two people of Indian origin making waves in the UK are the mother-son duo Parveen Rani and her 20-year old son Tushar Kumar. Both created history after winning the recent Council elections as Labour Party members breaking the traditional Conservative’s stronghold. Tushar has become the youngest Indian-origin councillor in the UK. Tushar’s victory in the local elections marks a significant shift in the political landscape of the UK. It reflects the changing demographics of the nation and highlights the importance of younger voices in politics. Tushar’s win, widely celebrated by the Indian diaspora, is viewed as a symbol of the growing influence and recognition of the Indians in the UK’s political arena. Tushar who moved to London at the age of 10 was passionate about politics and community work from a young age. A student of politics at the prestigious King’s College London, he teaches Hindi pro bono at the Hindi Shiksha Parishad UK.
Amish Tripathy

Celebrated Author Amish Tripathi Wins Special Award In London

In recognition of his role towards strengthening ties between the UK and India, celebrated author, diplomat Amish Tripathi was given a special award at the 5th UK India Award 2023. The work of Amish as a Director at the Nehru Centre, and Minister of Education & Culture at the High Commission of India’s office in London has greatly impacted the Indian diaspora. During the pandemic and post Covid, Amish and his team have kept the Centre busy by hosting on an average 28 events a month. On the writing front he has co-authored Moorti Puja with his elder sister Bhavana which will be launched soon. In addition, Amish and his newly wedded wife Shivani have begun exploring the possibility of bringing the varied spiritual works in the form of comic format for lighter reading to attract students and kids globally. In the UK during the promotion of his latest book War of Lanka, he met several children who are avid readers and his fans. Youth has been his biggest audience and now he desires to penetrate further among school children. Amish is also taking a shot at being producer-director for documentary films. His work Shiva Trilogy has been captured by Shekhar Kapur for the web series.
shankar Mahadevan

Shankar Mahadevan Academy Forges Ties With Birmingham City University

Fifty-five year old accomplished singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan has been awarded a honorary doctorate by Birmingham City University (BCU) in recognition of his outstanding services to music and the arts at a special ceremony held at the University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He was also presented with a bespoke medal made by students at the University’s renowned School of Jewellery. A student ensemble who performed at the ceremony led by Dr Radhika Balakrishnan, a Carnatic classical vocalist and BCU’s first-ever Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair in Indian Studies who is also a teacher at the Shankar Mahadevan Academy has helped Mahadevan to strengthen his ties with the University. Mahadevan has expressed a keen desire to join hands with BCU and form a tie-up between his Academy and the University. To support Mahadevan’s vision and mission none other than Ustad Zakir Hussain, renowned tabla player, composer, and percussionist, and John McLaughlin, legendary guitarist and a pioneer of jazz fusion joined him on stage and also participated in an impromptu jamming session with the University students to the delight of the audience. Professor Philip Plowden, Vice Chancellor at BCU said: “Shankar is also an educational innovator who believes in making the best tuition available to talented aspiring musicians. We are honored to have the opportunity to formally bring Shankar into our University community.”

FTA Chief Negotiator Harjinder Kang Moves To Mumbai As UK Trade Commissioner

Harjinder Kang, UK’s Chief Negotiator for the UK-India Free Trade Agreement has moved to Mumbai as His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner to South Asia and as Deputy High Commissioner for Western India. Kang will be succeeded in this role by Kate Thornley, previously Deputy Chief Negotiator for the FTA negotiations. Kang joins a team of nine His Majesty Trade Commissioners encouraging UK trade and investment and promoting Global Britain across the world. With an economy worth over £3.2 trillion, South Asia offers huge potential for UK businesses. Kang succeeds Alan Gemmell OBE. Before joining the Department for Business and Trade, Kang spent nearly 30 years at pharma giant AstraZeneca. He is also a member of the Council of the University of Birmingham. Kang will play a pivotal role in supporting the implementation of the UK-India Free Trade Agreement, which could bring huge opportunities for UK businesses. Kang said:  “I am excited about the opportunities ahead as we strengthen our economic ties and forge new partnerships in the region to create jobs, promote innovation and drive economic growth at home and abroad.”

Photographer Saleel Tambe Bags Coveted British Title

The 170-year old The Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain has bestowed on the Indian born British citizen Saleel Tambe, a renowned wildlife photographer, the prestigious Associate of Royal Photographic Society (ARPS) title. This is one of the most coveted international distinctions, recognized as the “Michelin star of photography”. The RPS Distinctions are one of the most widely recognized and respected photography titles throughout the world. The qualifications support people to undertake structured assessments through a tailored and friendly education programme with a high standard of care and support for everyone. Saleel’s presentation was titled “WINGS” in the Natural History genre and a panel comprising seven eminent jury members assessed his body of work. This distinction grants a golden lapel with a gold emblem certificate and the ARPS title is now officially added to Saleel’s name. He has also authored several books on birds and wildlife. Saleel has gathered all these priceless images wandering relentlessly in various sanctuaries and national parks across the globe. Fifty year old Saleel, an IT professional, was born in Indore and graduated from Jabalpur Engineering College and in 2003 moved to the UK. Besides photography he is also an accomplished tabla player.
Pradeep Bhardwaj

Now, Indians Are On A Roll In The UK, Pradeep Bhardwaj Appointed High Sheriff Of Wiltshire

The latest news is that Pradeep Bhardwaj, Senior Strategy Director & Head of Industry Standards, Syniverse has been appointed by His Majesty the King as the High Sheriff in the historic rural county of Wiltshire in England. Bhardwaj is the first person of Indian origin, and the first Hindu to be appointed to this high office. Pradeep brings in a huge honour not just for himself but for the entire diaspora from the Indian sub-continent. With the presence of Hindu Chaplain from Leeds Krishnakant Atre at the ceremony Bhardwaj wrote history. The High Sheriff is the Sovereign’s representative in the county for matters of law and order. It is a direct appointment of the Sovereign by Royal Warrant and is the oldest secular Office in the United Kingdom after the Crown, dating back to the Saxon times in the 10th century, more than 1,000 years ago. High Sheriffs play an active role in upholding the principal parts of the Constitution i.e. members of the Royal family when visiting the County. Pradeep is recognised to have brought many firsts to India — first  public email service, first public internet service, first Electronic Data Interchange service and setting up mobile and international telecom services in the island nation of Seychelles. Pradeep works very closely with the competitive telecom giants in India.

The Other Side Of Vocalist Mahesh Kale You Don’t Know!

India’s renowned vocalist and national award winner Mahesh Kale is a globally respected artiste. But, there is more to him. Recently, the singer flew into the UK three days before his concerts leaving his organisers, fans and followers guessing. No, it was not to do a dry run but to travel the local tube in London, walk over 15000 steps in Central London, and explore the “vibe of the city.” Kale believes that weather is part of human life as nature has an inseparable bond with mankind. Kale is a tree hugger and also chooses to sit on a park bench and write a poem. He ensured that his disciples from Edinburgh accompanied him at both his concerts in the UK. Local travel in the city of performance helps him to understand a little more of the culture of that land, their liking for music. At his show in Manchester, a 6-month old baby Swananadi Kulkarni, overwhelmed by the audience and gathering, started crying. Kale walked up to her and whispered a song into her ears, and soon she stopped crying and started smiling. Kale is an avid traveler. This year he will be performing in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland. Kale is married and lives in the Bay area.
Untitled (900 × 900 px) (78)

India’s Top Vocalists Mahesh Kale, Kaushiki Chakraborty To Regale UK Audiences

Indian classical music aficionados are in for a treat in the UK. The recent opening of the South Asian Gallery – one of its kind in the UK — at the Manchester Museum has loaned an original pair of tabla of Ustad Allah Rakha from the British Museum. Allah Rakha’s tabla gathers a lot of interest and attention as one can hear the original clip of his playing on earphones. More. Come March, Mahesh Kale India’s renowned vocalist and national award winner will enthrall his fans in the UK’s two UK cities. Kale’s “Sur Niragas Ho – UK Tour” will be Live in Harrow (Mar 11) followed by the city of Manchester (Mar 12) at the iconic Royal Northern College of Music. Disciple of the late Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki, Kale came to prominence after he won the 63rd National Film Award as the Best Playback Singer, for a classical piece in the Marathi film Katyar Kaljat Ghusli.  A fortnight after Kale’s performance the UK audience will be regaled by another classical music artiste Kaushiki Chakraborty from Patiala gharana. Her popularity can be gauged from the fact that tickets for her concert have already been sold out.
Collage Maker-25-Jan-2023-04

UP finance minister Suresh Kumar Khanna and Dr Shashank Vikram

Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister, Bureaucrats To Visit UK To Woo Global Investors

Uttar Pradesh government’s top level bureaucrats led by the state’s Finance Minister & Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Suresh Kumar Khanna are visiting the United Kingdom to woo global investors. On January 28 Jan, Dr Shashank Vikram, IFS who is the Consul General of India in Birmingham will be hosting “a high profile” gathering of investors to meet the minister and top officials. Birmingham which coincidentally is recognised as the “Engine” of UK economy inspired by James Watt will play host to strengthen ties between the UK and Uttar Pradesh. UP minister Khanna’s visit is primarily to woo investors for the UP’s Global Investors Summit to be held shortly in his state. It is learnt that Khanna and his core team along with Dr Vikram have identified a roadmap and strategies to be followed to enhance trade and economic ties between the UK and UP. Khanna is ambitious with his plans as UP’s vision is to become a $1 trillion economy. Towards this objective the state government has provided a single window clearance for 25 sectors it has opened up for the global investors. With the BJP government elected for the second time in UP, there is political stability. But, the moot point will these roadshows in the UK following the USA earlier, encourage global entrepreneurs to UP?
Collage Maker-16-Jan-2023-04

Odisha-Based Sri Sri University Signs MoU With W20 For Knowledge Partnership

Odisha-based Sri Sri University is the first University in India to sign MoU as a Knowledge Partner with W20, under the aegis of G20 Presidency of India. Prof Rajita Kulkarni, President at Sri Sri University says “We look forward to working with the W20 team this year across important priority areas like women entrepreneurship, climate change, education and skill development.” W20 is the official G20 engagement group focused on gender equality. Its primary objective is to ensure that gender considerations are mainstreamed into G20 discussions and translated into the G20 Leaders’ Declaration as policies and commitments that foster gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Envisioned by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, Sri Sri University which became operational in 2012 blends the best of the East and the West, enabling the holistic development of its students. In a span of 10 years the university is offering different courses in areas of management, architecture, humanities, agriculture, health and wellness, science, literature, osteopathy and performing & fine arts.  In 2021 Sri Sri University was ranked 1st in State & Zone, and 8th in India (quantum jump from 26th Rank in 2020) under the category of Best Private Universities and 27th in the category of Top 50 University of Eminence (Deemed & Pvt) by Indian Institutional Ranking Framework.
Collage Maker-03-Jan-2023-04

UK-Based Neelabha Chatterjee

Chatterjees Of Luxmi Group Eye Global Markets, LUK In UK To Launch BrrrGrr

The Rs 1000-crore Kolkata based Luxmi Group owned by the Chatterjees has been producing some of the world’s most coveted teas for over 100 years now. The group which owns Darjeeling’s prestigious and elite Makaibari tea estates are intensely focusing on the global markets for tea, and other lines of businesses. Neelabha Chatterjee, younger son of Dipankar and grandson of PC Chatterjee has decided to settle in the UK.  He went as a student at Cranfield and chose not to return family’s tea estates. He has set up LUK Hospitalities which owns two branded hotels in Birmingham. Besides, he is all set to launch American style burgers, wings and shakes in the West Midlands region called ‘Brrgrrr’. The Kolkata-based Chatterjees have diversified into carpets, furniture in India and now hospitality in the UK. The third generation is strengthening the group’s presence in different sectors. In India, Neelabha’s brother Rudra who is handling the family’s traditional tea business is eyeing the global tea retail markets. To start with, it will be the USA. Besides, he plans to expand hand-woven carpets brand Obeetee and furniture brand Manor and Mews with its atelier in London and manufacturing units in Europe and Jaipur. The Chatterjees came into limelight when Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a packet of Silver Imperial brand from Makaibari to the late Queen Elizabeth when he visited the UK in 2015.

King Of Puri To Visit UK In The Spring Of 2023

The City of London and the UK has lured all. The King of Puri is no exception. Dibyasingha Deb, known as Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb IV, will be travelling to the UK in May 2023. He is the current titular Gajapati Maharaja and Chairman of the Shree Jagannatha Temple, Odisha and the current Adhyasevaka (known as the first and foremost servitor) of Lord Jagannatha and according to customs also considered to be the living reflection of the Lord. Huge preparations are on to welcome the King of Puri to the UK. The King, the current head of the house of Bhoj Dynasty, will be accompanied by his wife Maharani Leelavati Patamahadei. The 70-year old King’s travel in the UK is organised by the Shree Jagannatha Society of UK. Reportedly, Odia’s population in the UK is over 5000. “Pleased with support and growth here the King of Puri is on a mission to spread the Jagannath Sanskruti in the UK and across the globe,” admits Siba Ranjan Biswal, one of the leaders of the Odia community in the UK. The King’s itinerary includes visits to the Jagannatha Temples in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bath.  The King is expected to visit the City of Greater Manchester which has hosted the 43rd Annual Convention of the Odia community in August 2022.  

Odia Actor-Politician Anubhav Mohanty Seeks “Love in London"

Well known Odia star Anubhav Mohanty and youngest BJD MP is focusing on his first love — movies. It may be recalled that the Odia actor and his actress wife Varsha Priyadarshini made headlines when their marital discord became ugly. This popular star and sitting MP from Kendrapara, made a big splash two decades ago on the silver screen with his film “I Love You “. It was a super hit and made him a star overnight. Recently, the Odia star was seen in London shooting for his film Love In London. Film’s Director Tapas Sargharia who is also a well-known screenwriter and actor is thrilled that he was able to sign Anubhav for this project. “A large chunk of the film is shot at the iconic places – London Eye, London Bridge and Thames River”, said Sargharia. “It’s a love story with a difference,” he assures. Poulomi Das is the heroine. Anubhav revealed that the film’s climax is “unusual and the audience will have Goosebumps.”  This love story is deep-rooted in the social values, culture and tradition of Odisha. Film will hit the big screen in 2023. “It’s a huge balancing act between the Parliament and dates to shoot,” says Anubhav. “But I never lose a single day in the Parliament”, he says.  That’s work-life balance for him.
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Deepak Chopra, Doug Roland Team Up With Chef Vikas Khanna To Make Social Impact Films

Michellin Star Chef Vikas Khanna is on a roll as far as directing social impact films are concerned. His film Last Colour produced by Jitendra Mishra on Amazon Prime has had good reviews. Not one to rest on his laurels, he managed to get the world renowned speaker-author Deepak Chopra and Oscar nominated social impact filmmaker Doug Roland as Executive Producer and Producer for his latest documentary Barefoot Empress co-produced by Mishra . The short documentary follows the journey of 96-year-old Karthyayani Amma as she joins a first grade class, to realize her lifelong dream of receiving an education. The film is inspired by Khanna’s grandmother who was not given an opportunity at an education. Khanna who has partnered with non-profit Leap to Shine, said, he will “use the film to raise funds in service of providing high quality education for girls in underserved communities in India.” Barefoot Empress has helped rehabilitate 11 classrooms in India. According to Dr Deepak Chopra, “Barefoot Empress carries a universal message of hope and perseverance that has the power to move viewers, and the momentum to impact the lives of thousands of girls in India.” Barefoot Empress has qualified for the Oscar shortlist, won at the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, where it picked up the Biogen Award and the Best Short Documentary at the Big Apple Award.
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Indian Doctors In UK Gear Up To Save National Health Service; Forge Ties With Indian Hospitals

There is an estimated shortfall of 12,000 doctors and 50,000 nurses in the UK. To meet this shortfall the country is exploring various avenues.  Thus, between September and November 2022 two MoUs were signed between the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and BAPIO Training Academy (BTA) UK and Bengaluru-based hospitals – Gleneagles and Vydehi Superspeciality (formerly Mallya hospital). This tie-up demonstrates the fact that the vast Indian medical community that serves the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has been an active and conscientious supporter of the NHS system. The tie-ups are with the aim of developing and providing world-class training and exchange programs for doctors and nurses in India to meet the growing demands of effective and safe delivery of emergencies. BAPIO with its Education Academy in the UK has actively geared up its resources to mitigate the current crisis faced by the NHS system. Chandru Iyer, Deputy High Commissioner UK in Bengaluru says, “Such tie ups will enhance collaborative training avenues for Indian medical students and professionals in the UK.” According to Prof Parag Singhal, Executive Director- BTA and National Secretary, BAPIO this training initiative is designed specially to help International doctors gain experience at core and higher levels in UK hospitals. The BTA Indo-UK Training Programme has been developed in partnership with University of South Wales and Kingsway Hospitals.

Arvind Singh, Tourism Secretary

Indian Tourist Sector Moves In The Fast Lane; Gears Up For G20 Meetings

India is emerging as a popular tourist and business destination against the backdrop of the Free Trade Agreement between India and UK to be signed soon. The MICE industry is flourishing with several business delegations travelling to India not just to Tier 1 but to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street who led the West Midlands, UK delegation to India, did not confine his visit to New Delhi but travelled to Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. He played Kabbadi and has promised to host the World Kabbadi tournament in Birmingham in 2024. Global Tech Advocates hosted their global meet with the Tech India Advocates led by British citizens Ani Kaprekar, Af Malhotra and Nilesh Gopali. The 40-plus delegates visited Bengaluru, Hubballi (Hubli), and Deshpande’s Tech Foundation. The global organisation TiE will host their annual summit in Telangana. About 3000 entrepreneurs are expected to attend. Bill Gates, N R Narayana Murthy, Gautam Adani, Telangana Minister K T Rama Rao are expected to take part in the summit. At the recently held World Travel Market in London, Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India and Rakesh Kumar Verma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism stated that “India is  gearing up for the G20 Presidency to start from December 1, 2022. India is expected to host over 200 meetings across 55 cities in the country.”
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Saraswat Bank Signs MoU With GCSE To Offer Concessional Loans To Saraswat Entrepreneurs

To a cheering audience at the recently held 3rd Annual Conclave of Global Chamber of Saraswats Entrepreneurs and Professionals(GCSE) in Goa, Chairman of Saraswat Bank Gautam Thakur announced a lucrative and special loan scheme to support young Saraswat entrepreneurs. Honouring his commitment, Saraswat Bank’s top brass signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GCSE on November 17.  Saraswat Bank has initiated an exclusive scheme Loan For Entrepreneurs And Professionals (LEAP) that would provide loans/ OD facility for first generation entrepreneurs from the Saraswat Community at a concessional rate of interest. Founder Director of GCSE Siddharth Sinkar, said, “Not only will LEAP boost the morale of the existing young first generation entrepreneurs for scaling up their businesses. This will also promote the entrepreneurial drive amongst the Saraswat minds.” This facility will be offered only to members of Saraswat Chamber. While GCSE would do the basic due diligence of applications routed through them, the final decision to grant loan will rest with the bank.
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Odisha’s IISER Appoints “Geek Gayak” Sandeep Ranade As Visiting Scientist

The prestigious Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Berhampur, Odisha has appointed Sandeep Ranade popularly known as “Geek Gayak” as a visiting scientist. Ranade probably is the first non-PhD scholar to be appointed to this post. He is expected to inspire students to do research in different areas of music. Pune-based Ranade, a software engineer, became globally popular after he won the Apple Designer of the Year Award 2021 for his App –NadSadhana. According to developers at Apple, “NaadSadhana is the sort of future-world app that could only be created by someone with an extremely specialized, almost-impossible skill set. Sandeep Ranade was that someone.” Ranade began singing from the age of four and by the 11th grade he had developed a great liking for vocal music. He has a masters from Johns Hopkins, two decades of tech-world experience, and a thriving career as a Hindustani classical vocalist. He returned to India to pursue both technology and music. He gave the app a test run by recording “Na Corona Karo,” a song about taking precautions against Covid-19 that went viral in social media after it was shared by AR Rahman and others. Ranade says his App is fully based on AI, and is trained not to adjust to the complexities of each instrument, but to the mix of the orchestra and the mood of the singer.
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Repatriated SBI UK Head Sharad Chandak Tipped To Be Dy MD

State Bank of India’s Sharad Chandak, Head of UK Region and also the Head of its subsidiary SBI UK has been transferred back to India. Chandak, an old guard at the bank, is currently Chief General Manager in SBI India hierarchy and is likely to be promoted to the Deputy Managing Director’s post of the bank and stationed in Delhi. Talking to Chandak says despite Covid and other odds faced by various banks and businesses at large in the UK, the SBI subsidiary succeeded in giving the parent SBI a dividend of 2.5%. With an Open Banking platform for non-customers of the bank the YoNo App that was launched during his tenure expanded remittance operations to Nepal and soon Sri Lanka operations will commence. To have a wider outreach to areas where bank’s branches do not exist, Chandak with his team has drawn up plans to start “Kiosk banking.” These kiosks are likely to be opened where the footfall is high like the malls. In 2023 Chandak said SBI UK will launch a development finance product that will offer financial support to those in the real estate sector. Sudhir Sharma, CEO (designate) will move into Chandak’s seat. Sanjay Pandey, currently Executive Director and Deputy CEO in the UK also returns to India and his colleague Varsha Bhat who is in the UK will take charge.
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Amish Tripathi Bags Additional Portfolio Of Education At Indian High Commission UK

Celebrated author, writer and bureaucrat and currently Director, Nehru Centre in London, Amish Tripathi (48) has obtained a two year extension to serve in London. In addition to his current posts as Director, Nehru Centre Amish has been offered an additional portfolio — Education. With this he is now Minister (Culture & Education), High Commission of India. This move reflects on him as a powerful Indian bureaucrat as extensions are very seldom rather unprecedented and happen in very special cases. Amish says, “My team and I will manage all interactions with the British Education ministry, universities here in the UK and actively support Indian students here.” Following a memorandum of understanding struck on July 21, 2022 that is a part of the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership by the UK and India to recognise each other’s higher education qualifications, Universities in the UK expect a surge in applications from Indian students. In 2020-21 the UK attracted 84,555 Indian students, with 73% coming for masters courses mostly of one year’s duration. In the year ended March 2022, as many as 107,978 Indian students were issued study visas to the UK, marking a significant rise of 93% compared to the same period before that. The UK government had indicated in 2019 that it was going to reintroduce the post-study work visa route for international students graduating from July 1, 2021 resulted in a massive boost in student numbers.
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Indians On A Roll: Birmingham City University Confers Honorary Doctorate On Shankar Mahadevan

The award-winning Indian singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan is to receive an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University (BCU) for his outstanding contribution to music and the arts. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street made the announcement on behalf of the University before the globally acclaimed Mahadevan is formally invited to receive the University’s highest honour at a ceremony in 2023. The announcement follows a BCU India and West Midlands India Partnership-organised visit by Mahadevan to BCU’s 400 mn pound campus featuring creative industry facilities, including Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC). Shankar had toured RBC with fellow Indian musicians including Zakir Hussain earlier this year, meeting with students, staff and partners, and committing to exploring links and opportunities between the Bangalore-based Shankar Mahadevan Academy and the Conservatoire. “When I started my career, never did I expect that one day I would be awarded a doctorate for music,” said 55-year old Mahadevan, part of the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio. The honorary doctorate announcement underlines BCU’s commitment both to their strategic partnership work in India as well, reflecting a recent call to urge policymakers to place greater emphasis on the value of the Creative Arts in higher education and recognise the role universities play in strengthening the sector’s growth and innovation.

Maharashtra Tourism Minister In London To Woo Global Tourists, MTDC Privatisation On The Anvil

The Shinde-Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has given Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a reputed builder and staunch BJP loyalist an important portfolio. He has been appointed Minister of Tourism, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Women & Child Development. And one big task he has been entrusted with is to attract global tourists to the state. Toward this objective he has decided to camp for over a week in London for roadshows. Incidentally, his wife Dr Manju Lodha, author-poet, is also in London to release her book Ankahin Kahaniyan at the Nehru Centre to be launched by the Indian High Commissioner. The minister is expected to use this event to hobnob with the biggies and woo them to Maharashtra. Post the book launch Lodha accompanied by Saurabh Vyas, Tourism Secretary, Dr BN Patil, Director, Directorate of Tourism and Dr Dhananjay Sawalkar, Dy Director, Directorate of Tourism will attend World Travel Market between November 7-9.  Lodha and team are likely to privatise MTDC’s 30 resorts. The Lodha team is likely to engage Tatas (Taj group), Mahindra group and other experts from the travel trade and hospitality to revamp, refurbish and make all properties productive and profitable. The current Maharashtra government’s thinking is developing strategy is the job of the government but businesses have to be run by private enterprises.
chandru Iyer

Grant Thornton UK Business Head Chandru Iyer To Take Over As British Deputy High Commissioner, Bengaluru

Indian origin British citizen Chandru Iyer, former Head of Business Development, South Asia Group at Grant Thornton UK is changing his career track.  Iyer will don the mantle of a diplomat. He moves from the UK to Bengaluru to take over as the British Deputy High Commissioner. Chandru’s experience in the India-UK business corridor gives him the additional responsibility to oversee the trade and investment in the South of India and South Asia. Incidentally, the term of Alan Gemell, the current British Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai who is also the Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for South Asia, comes to an end and thus it appears that Chandru’s role becomes more formidable extended to South Asia beyond south India. Chandru’s appointment comes at a time when the relationship between the two countries is extremely amicable and signing of the Free Trade Agreement is just round the corner. Hailing from Nagpur, Chandru needs no introduction to the corporate world, the India –UK business corridor, Department of International trade and the media in the UK. Fluent in various Indian languages Chandru was a popular host at several formal events hosted by Grant Thornton UK including the annual Diwali party. His name featured in the “Top 100 Influential People in India UK business relations”. He was instrumental in developing Grant Thornton’s strategic growth plans in the South Asia region.
andy street

West Midlands Mayor To Visit India, Woo Indian Business Investments

With a huge success hosting Commonwealth Games in the City of Birmingham, Mayor Andy Street is set to travel to India between November 6-12 leading a big delegation of business leaders and politicians. Andy’s India trip includes visits to Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai. Andy’s visit in early November comes at a time when the UK is undergoing a huge political, social and economic turmoil and the Free Trade Agreement that was scheduled during Diwali has been postponed. Thus this mission is expected to build on the on-going negotiations for a new UK-India FTA and will promote opportunities for bilateral trade and investment between India, the West Midlands and the wider UK. During his visit it’s learnt that his delegation will sign various MoUs. Meeting with the Chairman of the ICCR Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe has been scheduled in New Delhi and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre will sign a MoU with the ICCR. Andy and Senior representatives from The West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) and partners including the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) will explore business partnerships with CII members, meet Telangana leaders in Hyderabad and visit WE Hub to encourage women entrepreneurship. They have lined-up meetings with the Tata Group, TVS, Mahindra & Mahindra, Switch Mobility, Firstsource, Air India and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).    
Vikas Khanna

Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna In India To Direct His Second Film

This month end New York-based Michelin Star celebrity Chef “Amritsar ka puttar” Vikas Khanna will visit his mother in Punjab and join his co-producer, business partner and friend Jitendra Mishra, President-Elect of CIFEJ (International Centre of Films for Children & Young People, UNESCO ) to restart shooting their film that has already been approved by the NFDC.  This movie earlier titled The Home of the Rain Catcher produced by Mishra, Vikas’ mother Bindu Khanna and Poonam Kaul under the banner House of Omkar was on the list of 14 projects selected for the Co-Production Market Film Bazaar in 2019 by NFDC. But, the project had to be put on hold due to Covid-19 pandemic. Now, with fear of Covid-19 behind us, it’s business as usual. So, both Vikas and Jitendra are busy finalising the cast and script for the movie.  Both friends came together for The Last Colour starring Neena Gupta. It was Vikas Khanna’s directorial debut while Mishra was the producer.The film which is streaming on Amazon Video made it to the final list of Oscar 2020 Eligibility for Best Film. In all, the two friends have produced one feature film, one feature documentary, three short films. Mishra’s company Cinema 4Good has produced, distributed and promoted more than 110 films.
Ashu Thakur

Legal Eagle Ashu Thakur On A Roll, Closes Deal For Asian Paints And Mumbai-Based Restaurateur In Europe

Mumbai-based Ashu Thakur who heads Ashu Thakur & Associates, a law firm, has been flitting in and out of London for the past few months to help two of her key clients close the deal. It may be recalled that the Mumbai-based Restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani was keen to sell his stake in Mumbai-based French restaurants Slink & Bardot, and Soufflé S’il Vous Plaît back to his partner Alexis Gielbaum and Nick Harrison. Now, there has been a change of heart. Amlani, CEO of Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality and President of National Restaurant Association of India, is keen to stay invested and Thakur seems to be working on the finer points in light of the new development. The other deal Ashu worked closely on was the signing of the JV between the French designer Maximiliano Modesti’s Les Ateliers 2M and Asian Paints. The JV between two firms Asian Paints and Modesti saw the launch of brand INK in India. The collection comprising six distinct patterns combines techniques of screen-printing, block printing and embroidery. According to Amit Syngle, MD & CEO of Asian Paints, this collaboration will help the customers provide a complete portfolio of home décor products and services. Clearly, Ashu is on a roll.
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Spices Board Scouts For Brand Ambassadors In The UK To Promote Turmeric Latte Globally

To add more “zaika” to the growing exports of spices from India, BN Jha, Marketing Director, Spices Board of India has embarked upon a new mission:  promote Turmeric Latte. Jha who was in London at the IFE Manufacturing 2022 Fair is scouting for brand ambassadors from UK who can promote this turmeric drink globally. During the pandemic and post Covid “haldiwala doodh” has given big boost to turmeric sales, and its exports have quadrupled because of its medicinal properties, says Jha. During 2020-21 turmeric ranked fifth with an export share of 6.16% of the total exports of spices valued at Rs 27,193.20 crore. Turmeric is globally recognised for its immunity properties. This is why Spices Board is aggressively marketing Turmeric Latte world over. Interestingly, the demand for organic products is growing rapidly in developed countries like Europe, USA, Japan and Australia. The current estimated share of organic foods in these countries is approximately 1-1.5%. This awareness and value for turmeric including other spices is seeing the Spices Board going all out to increase their market share from the current level.  Under the Act of Parliament, 52 spices have been brought under the purview of the Spices Board. However 109 spices are notified in the ISO list.

Dr Kondal Reddy Kandadi (centre) receiving MBE Award

UK's Bolton University Forges Ties With Hyderabad-Based iVOlViS

University of Bolton in Greater Manchester has been in the forefront of forging ties with India’s educational institutions. To strengthen its ties with India, Bolton University sought special permission from the Queen’s Office, and conducted the MBE Award Ceremony to honour Dr Kondal Reddy Kandadi at its recent Graduation ceremony. This was unprecedented; never before such an award ceremony was held at the University’s graduation ceremony. Reddy was the former Deputy Vice Chancellor at University Of Bolton who left the UK shores last year at the peak of his career to return to his homeland Telangana to start his own educational venture iVOlViS by collaborating with Bolton University. “At iVOlViS, we are deploying globally proven educational pedagogies, systems, processes, people and technologies to achieve this core goal of realising the Power of Education in every child,” says Dr Reddy. Besides, Dr Reddy, Telangana’s high powered bureaucrat Jayesh Ranjan was conferred with Honorary Doctorate degree for his “outstanding contribution to the development of collaborative relationships between India and Manchester (particularly in the technology sector). “For the past many years I have tried to forge more partnerships between the province of Hyderabad and the UK and that is why I am getting this fabulous recognition by the University of Bolton and why I have received this honorary doctorate,” explained Ranjan.
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Ghanshyam Nabar and Anand Piramal

How West Midlands Is Attracting Indian Businesses

Birmingham-based Ghanshyam Nabar is go to man. This 40-year old director of West Midlands India Partnership (WMIP) is helping Indian businesses find opportunities in the UK, particularly West Midlands. As somebody responsible for WMIP he is driving collaborative engagement between the West Midlands and India to unlock mutually beneficial and sustainable economic opportunities. He brings to table rich experience to ensure deals fructify and its win-win situation for both India and the United Kingdom. Such a laser-focused approach has seen him and his organisation gaining recognition and bagging awards. At the recently held UK India Awards his organisation won the award for the Best Business Promotion Agency Of The Year Award. WMIP edged out contenders like The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Department of International Trade UK, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Manchester India Partnership to win the award. Nabar had won the same award for two years in a row for the Manchester India Partnership. Recently, WMIP hosted a do for the Indian delegates at Edgbaston ground. Spotted at the cricket match were Ajay Piramal and his son Anand. Besides, there were Telangana’s Principal Secretary Industries & Commerce Jayesh Ranjan, Prakash Wakhankar, BBC commentator and head honcho at the Mahindra BSA, Ankit Agarwal, CEO, Sterlite TECH, Dr Ravi Limaye, MD of Wockhardt. Looks like Nabar and his organization are creating the desired impact among the Indian diaspora.

Akshaya Patra Chalks Up Plans To Serve Another 1 Million Free Meals In The UK

Former BBC Global Food Champions, The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) UK, is growing rapidly with huge support from UK people. Speaking to, Bhawani Singh Shekhawat, CEO &Trustee, TAPF UK stated that his team is exploring all possibilities to open more kitchens in the UK. This means an addition to the existing kitchen at Watford which is already serving half million free meals a year.  The new kitchens are likely to come up in the Midlands and North England in Manchester and will serve one million free meals every year, taking the total free meals distributed to 1.5 million a year. According to a TAPF study there are 8 million people in the UK affected by food poverty. Of these, nearly 5 million suffer from acute food insecurity. This includes low-income homes, the unemployed, the vulnerable and the homeless. There are close to 3 million children who sleep hungry during school holidays. Unfortunately, for 3 million children in the UK, holidays turn out to become “hungry holidays” instead of happy holidays. Besides, there are close to 300,000 homeless persons across England today. There are even more adults who are deprived of a basic plate of food.  TAPF, winner of the Organization for Social Impact award at the India Global Forum, serves hot, tasty vegetarian food to the needy every day at no cost.

Hunt On For CII’s UK Head With Sudden Exit Of Lakshmi Kaul

The news that Lakshmi Kaul, Head & Representative, Confederation Of Indian Industry, UK has moved out caught everyone in London by surprise. Nobody knows where Kaul is headed. Unlike her predecessor Suchita Sonalika who moved to the USA in 2018 to head the CII office in Washington, sources say it is unlikely that Lakshmi will stay within the CII.  While Lakshmi was in New Delhi last week, CII’s senior director in Delhi, Kavita Choudhry flew to London to hold the fort till a new successor is found. Kavita who has worked with CII for over a decade was responsible for the Europe sector for over four years as well as the South East Asian corridor. Though Kavita is capable and has rich experience, the sudden departure of Lakshmi has perplexed trade, business and media especially at a crucial time when negotiations related to the Free Trade Agreement are in full swing. CII plays a stellar role in the UK as a powerful trade organisation representing Indian business interests. Lakshmi’s warm demeanor and social engagements have proved very valuable to CII over the years. Lakshmi who worked for over 15 years in the UK handled a whole gamut of things ranging from relationship building, public relations, research, strategy and policy work to creating community networks. Lakshmi will definitely be missed.
Retiring Indian High Commissioner UK, Gayatri Issar Kumar

L to R: Retired Indian HC Gayatri Issar Kumar, Lord Karan Billimoria, Bangladesh HC Muna Tasneem & Sujit Ghosh Acting Indian HC

London Calling Indian Business And Netas, UK Is New “Summer-Capital” Of India

Retired Indian High Commissioner to UK Gayatri Issar Kumar at her farewell hosted by the Indian Journalists Association there said in lighter vein that London looked like India’s new “summer capital”.  There is a ring of truth to what she said. Post Covid, no sooner were travel rules relaxed than there was a beeline of ministers, bureaucrats, businessmen air dashing to London. Union Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Telangana’s IT Minister KT Rama Rao, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Salman Khurshid landed here in quick succession to engage with the Indian diaspora. Goyal’s frequent visits and systematic follow-ups were to generate investments through government bonds and expedite progress of FTA, slated to be concluded by Diwali this year.  Senior BJP leader and RSS ideologue Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who is set to visit London, is scheduled to address Indian groups and includes the Overseas Maharashtrians Professionals and Entrepreneurs Group. India’s growing soft power is the message. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also plans to visit London.  Sometime in July, the Chief Justice of India and law department secretaries have their scheduled visits and public engagements. And finally, the Commonwealth Games will likely see the entire sports lobby from India travelling to the West Midlands in the UK. Clearly, London is not just a summer capital. Indian business and politics seems to evolve and revolve around it.
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Indian Universities Ink Pact With University College Birmingham, To Boost Skills Development Curriculum

Every region in the UK is actively pursuing collaborations and tie-ups with Indian organisations.  Recently, the University College Birmingham (UCB) entered into a tie-up with a range of academic institutions and organisations in India as part of a continuing drive to boost skills development in India. Bharat Sakhuja, Associate Director of the University’s International department and Alice Wilby, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Access, Participation and Student Experience) at University College Birmingham from the University were in India recently to meet Dr Sangeet Jaura, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Chitkara University, Professor Tabrez Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor of GD Goenka University, Dr Manju Gupta, Dean Academics at IMS Noida, Ved Mani Tiwari, Chief Operating Officer of the NSDC. The duo told, “The new linkups will offer a wide range of potential benefits and opportunities covering key areas including student mobility and up-skilling, progression arrangements, teacher training and cooperation, as well as collaborating in joint conferences and seminars.”  They also shared that discussions were held towards creating more opportunities for Indian students to attend short courses in the UK.  Collaboration between these Indian institutions and UCB will allow effective mobility of students between the institutions and enable them to consider integrated pathways which would be beneficial not only for students but for the academics in raising the level of teaching.
Anup Ratnaparkhi

Indian Bankers, Bureaucrats In UK On The Move: ICICI’s Anup Joins Ribbon Plc

ICICI Bank’s blue-eyed boy Anup Ratnaparkhi, who currently heads Branch Banking and NRI operations in the UK, has put in his papers.  Thirty-nine-year-old Anup, who had a 14-year long stint, is joining the London-based Ribbon Plc as Chief Commercial Officer. This venture has been promoted by his former ICICI boss Asesh Jani. It is an AI powered technology company that promises to offer a hyper-personalised digital experience to users. Ribbon is loaded with features including an embedded payments marketplace, access to deposits, FX, Crypto & Equity trading platforms. It was Asesh who had spotted Anup’s talent in ICICI and moved him up from Hyderabad to London. The scene at the State Bank of India, UK is no different. Most professionals posted here from India are currently in a flux. Most of the senior staffers who were transferred out of India have completed their term and will now return to India. This includes SBI UK head Sharad Chandak, ED Sanjay Pandey and COO Anurag Joshi. Elsewhere too, it seems to be the season of retirements or transfers. Gayatri Issar Kumar, the Indian High Commissioner in UK is into farewell party mode as she retires in September. Meanwhile, Rohit Vadhwana (IFS) who is First Secretary for Investment & Trade and also handles the Press portfolio, has been posted to Kenya.

Saraswat Brahmins’ Goa Conclave, To Channelise Community Business Spirit Over One Day

Saraswat Brahmin entrepreneurs from across the globe will converge in Goa come September 10, for the first Annual Conclave. The Saraswat Brahmin community of business leaders from different parts of the world joined hands and formed the Global Saraswat Entrepreneurs Chamber (GSEC) in 2019, resurrecting the nearly 30-year-old Saraswat Chamber of Commerce set up by Suresh Prabhu, senior BJP leader and former chairman of the Saraswat Cooperative Bank. This one-day conference is expected to draw some of the biggest names from the community including, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, singer activist Hemaa Sardesai, hoteliers Vithal Kamat (Kamat Hotels Group), Raghunandan Kamath (Natural Ice Creams) and Marathi actor Ashok Saraf to name just a few. The underlying objective of the conclave “to build a wise, vibrant and prosperous community ecosystem for Saraswats in business and profession,” says Siddharth Sinkar, founder director of GCSE. The Saraswat community is primarily known as an ethical and philanthropic segment of society that channelised and harnessed cumulative energies for collective excellence in society. In the fields of business and commerce the community has been a frontrunner in the banking and cooperatives sectors.
Pankaj Munjal, Chairman and Managing Director of Hero Cycles

Munjal’s Foot Is In Europe’s Door, 150 Mn Pound Invested In UK E-Bike Plant

Pankaj Munjal of Hero Cycle’s fame has ambitiously big plans to strengthen the company’s presence in overseas markets, particularly across Europe. His company Insync Bikes Ltd has geared up to manufacture top end e-bikes at Trafford in the United Kingdom. Munjal, who visited UK to unveil his plans, told, “Manchester has given us more than what we had expected or planned.’’ The immediate future plan involves development as part of the budgeted £150m group-wide investment. His Manchester-based Global Design Centre has innovated an e-bike with artificial Intelligence functions that will incorporate advanced technologies such as Google services integration and introduce anti-theft systems and advanced telematics. Approximately 300 e-bikes will be manufactured every month at Trafford and priced at £3000 per piece. These e-bikes are expected to hit the road by August-September of 2022. The company received an award for being a Fast Track Indian company in the UK from among 900 companies surveyed by Grant Thornton in its India Meets Britain tracker report. Despite difficult conditions in the UK and Europe, Insync Bikes ranked 7th on the growth rate parameter. If the Indian experience is an indication, it will be among the top four players, sooner than later


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.