Healthcare and education sectors present the UK and India huge opportunities to forge mutually beneficial partnerships, Mike Nithavrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner, said on Tuesday.

Addressing a meeting of the Rotary Club of Madras, Mr. Nithavrianakis said while there were prospects for collaboration in a range of sectors such as infrastructure, automotive, manufacturing, IT and financial services, if he were to cite a couple of sectors where the UK and India, especially the south, could forge partnerships of excellence in the 21{+s}{+t}century, it had to be healthcare and education.

Pointing out that there were 1.2 million Persons of Indian Origin in the UK mainly from Gujarat and Punjab, the British Deputy High Commissioner said the PIO demographic was slightly changing with students and others from south India joining the traditional immigrant community.

Saying that the UK with 62 million ageing population, and India with a population 20 times that in proportion and with half the population below 25 years of age, could still collaborate in the healthcare space, Mr. Nithavrianakis said one of the areas where the UK could offer its expertise was in training doctors and establishing a strong primary care system which was non-existent in India.

Areas of improvement

The other area could be in training Indian nursing and allied health sectors like physiotherapy and paramedics that had not quite evolved the way its doctors had developed world class expertise, he said.

The U.K. too could learn from India on how a country of this scale deliver quality medical care at low cost or used technologies like telemedicine to reach patients in rural areas, Mr. Nithavrianakis said.

The U.K. doctors coming as faculty could also learn from the volume and variety of clinical cases seen in Indian hospitals, he said.

On the higher education front, Mr. Nithavrianakis said while UK universities have traditionally come to India to recruit students — there are an estimated 40,000 students, mostly undergraduates in the UK — the message now going out to about 110 British Universities is to start “seeing India much more as a two-way street.”

U.K. universities, while focusing on intake of students, also need to explore partnerships that would be long-term and sustainable. He envisaged a time soon when British and Indian institutions issued joint degrees.

Identifying vocational training to make graduates employable as another area for potential collaboration, Mr. Nithavrianakis said the U.K. was keen to talk to private sector players on putting together skill programmes against projections that India would need to train 500 million youth in the next 10 years.