Yesterday evening I attended a reception hosted by H.E. Mr. Navtej Sarna, the new Indian High Commissioner to the UK, at India House.
This is the second time that I’ve met the High Commissioner and I’m pleased to say he comes across very well – handsome, very articulate and energetic. It has only been a month since Mr Sarna was appointed to the the UK but I can already sense an operational and strategic change taking place at the High Commission.
I was pleased to see several other individuals from the London Borough of Redbridge from across the political spectrum as well as representatives from the National Indian Students Union (UK). There seems to be consensus that we need to do more to strengthen the India-UK relationship in order to address contemporary issues. I hope that in the coming months the High Commissioner and his Deputy, Dr Virander Paul, will visit the Indian diaspora in Redbridge to develop a stronger dialogue.
Excerpts of High Commissioner’s speech on 12 February 2016:
The High Commission of India organized a well-attended Indian community function at India House this evening. More than a hundred representatives of different social, cultural and ethnic associations of the Indian diaspora as well as Indian origin members of the British Parliament attended the function.
High Commissioner Navtej Sarna in his address made the following points:
• He welcomed the community to India House, which was an institution open to all Indians. It reflected Indian-ness in every inch as it had originally been built for India. All community members must feel that this is their home and they would always be welcome.
• The intention of the High Commission was to initiate a two way conversation with members of the community wherein all problems could be freely shared and discussed. The High Commission would make every effort to resolve all concerns. This was the first of such conversations
• Each community member’s life journey could be described as A Tale of Two Countries – that of India and the UK; that of the matrabhumi and the karambhumi. The community in the UK had flourished extensively in every field of human endeavor- economics and business, politics, culture, medicine, finance and so on. They had acquired a political weight and strong voice and they carried influence.
• Even while they had flourished in the UK they had not forgotten their cultural roots. To the contrary their cultural had become part of British life – tandoori was more popular than fish and chips, bhangra was a byword in London
• They were a huge asset for building India UK relations. They were a bridge of influence that needed to be fully utilized. At the same time they had a huge role to play in assisting India’s development and in helping India attract foreign investment and expertise that would help develop its infrastructure, its ports, airports and smart cities or the cleaning of the Ganga.
• Consular outreach was being given huge importance by the High Commission as this aspect of diplomatic work dealt with human beings. UK had the highest share of electronic visas that had been issued – 24%; 300,000 OCI cards had been issued and 300 applications were being received every day. The High Commission had taken proactive steps to solve teething problems that had been encountered by applicants. The Public Response Unit of the High Commission had recently expanded its telephone exchange to one with 15 lines so that queries could be more efficiently handled.
To learn about the High Commission of India visit: http://www.hcilondon.in