UK sees Telangana as key partner for bilateral relations: Minister

Ahmad stresses need to leverage opportunities given ‘wealth of innovation’ in the State

March 19, 2021 11:33 pm | Updated March 20, 2021 10:23 am IST - Hyderabad

UK Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad (in black) during his visit to ICRISAT in Sangareddy on Thursday.

UK Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad (in black) during his visit to ICRISAT in Sangareddy on Thursday.

United Kingdom considers bilateral relationships with States in India equally important, and Telangana, a hub of pharma industry and which has a huge potential for tourism given its history and culture, makes it a strong partner, said Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth.

Lord Ahmad, who is in Hyderabad as part of a six-day tour to India, said he tried to explore scope for further cooperation between Telangana and the UK in the areas of health, agriculture, agri-tech and education. He earlier visited ICRISAT and also WE Hub that promotes startups.

Meeting with KTR

The UK Minister was all praise for Telangana IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao, and said they both shared their strong belief in technology driving the future and enjoyed the interaction. He also oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between WE Hub, which is the State-led incubator to foster women entrepreneurship, and the University of Bolton, one of UK’s top educational institutes. The partnership for two years will enable cross-channel expansion of WE Hub’s women entrepreneurs into the UK markets. It will also open communication with relevant eco-system players for both parties for future collaborations.

Lord Ahmad, who interacted with the selected startups, said WE Hub reflected the wealth of innovation here and in this direction, there is a need to leverage the opportunities.

Recalling the role of India during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the contribution to the pharma sector was phenomenal.

The Minister, whose father hailed from Gurdaspur in Punjab, felt it reflected how cooperation between India and UK had benefitted not just for both the countries but also other countries across the globe while ensuring COVID-19 vaccine supply.

The huge Indian diaspora in the UK ensures strong ties with India, he said reminding that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be visiting the country soon, in what will be his first foreign tour. That itself reflects the importance of India for UK, said Lord Ahmad, whose mother was born in Jodhpur.

The UK Minister, who is quite fluent in Urdu as well, said a growing number of Indian students in the UK also showcases the strong bond between the two countries. There is a 45% growth of Indian students in the last decade and with relaxation of visa norms for their work, he expects the number to further increase. The UK relaxed work visa norms under which international students are eligible to get a two-year work visa after completion of their course.

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