India-UK Tech Summit 2016: An Air of Optimism
Even as the worst smog of the century continues to shroud the Indian Capital, and most sensible Delhi-ites stay indoors on a sub-30° C weekend when they would have otherwise wandered out in their zippy bikes and macho SUVs, a small band of people are furiously at work in preparation for the India-UK Tech Summit at Hotel Taj Palace to be held from 7-9 November, 2016.
For the dedicated teams behind the scenes at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Dept. of Science & Technology in the Govt. of India and the British High Commission, Monday morning will see the culmination of almost a year of planning and hectic execution. Promotional material issued by the organisers states "Tech Summit 2016 brings together the most exciting thought leaders, businesses, educational institutions and innovators to connect and explore the future of India-UK collaboration". The fact that this will be the first overseas trade mission by the Brexit-beleaguered British Prime Minister, Theresa May should be seen as a sign of the importance the island nation accords to its former crown jewel. And the fact that Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, will address a specially invited audience very early on a smoggy Monday morning should also highlight the significance of this meeting of the two leaders.
However, in the wake of the Brexit vote and Great Britain's impending separation from the European Union, it is only natural that it once again explores distant shores to bolster trade relations – especially a country that has evolved from a colony to the fastest-growing economy (give or take a few GDP percentage points with China). And, for Indian industrialists and politicians, traditionally enamoured by the charms of London, there is an emotional connect that transcends economics.