MP Kuldip Singh Sahota is part of a delegation of nine British Parliamentarians in Pune on a visit to India.
The protests by pro-Khalistan activists outside the Indian High Commission in London last month, which led to India lodging a strong protest, is mainly a TV spectacle and does not reflect the real situation on the ground, United Kingdom’s Sikh MP Kuldip Singh Sahota said.
Responding to a question on the anti-India sentiments witnessed during the protests, Sahota said, “There might be a small amount of it (anti-India sentiments), but where I come from, I see more of it on the TV. On the ground, not really, not much.”
Last November, India-born Sahota became the first turban-wearing Sikh on the Labour benches in the House of Lords. He is part of a delegation of nine British Parliamentarians in Pune on a visit to India.
Responding to other questions, the Parliamentarians acknowledged that the recession in the UK is “worrying” and said that the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the countries is “very much on track”.
The delegation, mainly focusing on trade ties, visited Symbiosis International University Campus in Pune’s Lavale on Thursday.
It earlier spent two days in Delhi, where they met the vice-president; Union ministers of transport, railway, aviation and telecom; and the foreign and commerce Secretaries. The MPs also visited Ahmedabad and met Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel.
Apart from Symbiosis, the MPs visited the Serum Institute of India and the Tata Motors factory in Pune. They will end their journey in Mumbai with a ‘women in leadership’ event.
Asked about the FTA, Karan Bilimoria, founder of the UK-India business council, referred to “rumours put out in the press” that the agreement has been stalled. “(But) at every talk, all senior officials and politicians we spoke to, they are very much on track. And an indication that they are on track is not only have we gone through eight rounds of negotiations, but there are also 26 chapters. It’s a comprehensive agreement. It should be a catalyst to take our trade business investment to the next level.”
He said, “India is on the path to becoming a $30-trillion economy. There’s no question about it. It’s on the path to being the number three superpower in the world, along with the USA and China. The question is how long it takes. At the earliest, it’s going to happen within 20 years, 15 years, but it’s definitely going to happen within 25 years.”
Asked about the economic situation in the UK, Nia Griffith, another delegation member, said, “Britain is facing an energy crisis and rents and food prices have shot up. It will take time to clear the issues. We will have to invest in renewables. The recession in the UK is very worrying and we are doing quite poorly. We are working to improve the situation.”
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