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New role for Prince Harry at Commonwealth as CHOGM kicks off

The “jugaad” or frugal approach to innovation was highlighted as secretary-general Patricia Scotland launched the Commonwealth Innovation Hub and the Commonwealth Innovation Fund.

world Updated: Apr 16, 2018 21:39 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting,Prince Harry,Queen Elizabeth
Britain's Prince Harry at a youth forum on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London on April 16, 2018.(AFP)

India’s famed “jugaad” approach to innovation marked the first day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on Monday, as Prince Harry announced he has been named the Commonwealth youth ambassador.

A series of sessions focussed on women, business, youth and people across the Commonwealth. Harry drew much applause when he announced that Queen Elizabeth had appointed him to his new position.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to arrive in Britain on Tuesday evening to attend the event on April 19 and 20 at venues in London and Windsor. He will have a day of bilateral engagements with the Theresa May government on April 18.

Prince Harry, who will marry actress Meghan Markle in Windsor on May 19, said: “In my new role, I will work to support the Queen, my father the Prince of Wales, and my brother William, all of whom know that young people are the answer to the challenges of today.

“I am also incredibly grateful that the woman I am about to marry, Meghan, will be joining me in this work, of which she too is hugely excited to take part in.”

Harry also announced 150 new scholarships, named Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholars, for studies at leading universities in low and middle income countries. The first cohort will begin studies in 2019.

Award-winning Nigerian writer Ben Okri, who delivered the keynote speech at the people’s forum, said the “world is crying out for big leadership”. He called on people in the Commonwealth to “wake up, unveil your eyes, ask questions, use your power”, and said citizens are “living units of democracy, a living force for all the possibilities of this world”.

The “jugaad” or frugal approach to innovation was highlighted as secretary-general Patricia Scotland launched the Commonwealth Innovation Hub and the Commonwealth Innovation Fund, which will deploy grant, equity, and debt investments to support innovators across the 53 member-states in the group.

Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland launching the Commonwealth Innovation Hub on the opening day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on Monday. (HT Photo)

“The idea is not only to put the ‘wealth’ back into the ‘common’, but also ‘common’ into ‘wealth’. There is already a 20% Commonwealth advantage for trade between member-states,” she said.

“When so many areas in the world are turning protectionist, we are open to trade with each other. The Commonwealth has never been more important and relevant. We are here to stay,” she added.

Opening the business forum, Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled new programmes to free up trade, boost women’s participation in business and to upskill young people who make up two-thirds of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion citizens.

She said the new SheTrades programme will offer £7 million in Commonwealth-wide support to increase the presence of women-owned businesses to operate internationally from countries where being female is a professional barrier.

May said: “If Commonwealth members are not giving women an equal opportunity to succeed in business and in trade, they are trying to take on some of the biggest economies in the world with one hand tied behind their backs.

“That will not change overnight. But SheTrades represents an important step in the right direction – one that, like the other initiatives I have talked about today, will deliver benefits across the Commonwealth and beyond.”

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 21:39 IST