While NR Narayana Murthy of the Infosys has taken over as India's Co-Chair at the Indo-British Partnership (IBP), the British side has chosen Karan Billimoria of Cobra Beer as their Co-Chair. The change of guard was announced during the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the IBP at the historic Locarno Suite in the Foreign Commonwealth Office on Wednesday.
Narayana Murthy has taken over from Dr Jamshed J Irani and Billimoria has taken over from Mr David Jeffries. Both of them appreciated the close cooperation between the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) saying the ties have been of great value.
Billimoria, who is of Indian-origin and is the recipient of the Asian of the Year Award 2003, was forthright in saying that there should not be any grievance against the outsourcing from India. "Britain and India have a unique bonding relationship."
He said that India offered best value for the money invested in call centres and jobs. "This way Britain is importing India's competitiveness." With cheaper labour costs but efficient services British companies would become more competitive and give them more opportunities. He apparently wished to silence the politicians and unions that have been agitating against outsourcing saying thousands would become jobless here.
"In the era of globalisation, business cannot be inward-looking. It's a win-win situation," said Billimoria. This is true. For instance, while outgoing British Co-Chair David Jeffries's company Costain has employed 150 people in Mumbai, the Tata Consultancy Services have employed 1200 persons in their UK-based company. Many other companies from India are setting up branches here to deal with their businesses in Europe.
Narayan Murthy was heard with great attention when he said, "I can dream of India not 20 years after but in the next six or seven years." He gave out figures and statistics to inform of the amazing potential India has given "its entrepreneurship, the ingenuity and innovations". He said in just a few years to come at least 20 flights a day would be needed to cope with the traffic from the country when the average income of an Indian would be around $5000.
British Minister in the Department of Trade, Mike O'Brien, while promising even closer bilateral relations thanked the CBI and CII delegates who were present in large numbers for the help they have given in developing trade between the two countries. "Already over 440 Indian firms have invested here and I can say the British companies would also go on investing in India."
The IBP was formed in 1993 when the then Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao and John Major signed the agreement in Delhi. All its major objectives were reaffirmed in the Delhi Declaration signed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr Tony Blair two years ago.