By Prasun Sonwalkar
India has emerged as Asia'ssecond largest investor in Britain with an impressive 47 per cent increase in foreign investment projects in the last fiscal year as official statistics showed.
Twenty-eight Indian companies invested in Britain during 2003-04, bringing India Inc.'spresence in the country to 480 firms, said the figures released by the United Kingdom Trade and Investment. Japan was the top investing country from Asia with 52 projects, while China was ranked lower than India with 23 projects, the data showed.
Overall, 811 investment projects from 40 countries set up operations in Britain in the last fiscal year, up by 14 per cent from the previous year'sfigure of 709.
?The year 2003-04 continued to witness recognition by Indian companies that the UK is the ideal business investment location of choice in Europe, and second only to the US globally,? said Mark Dolan, deputy director, inward investment. ?India is now the second largest source of foreign direct investment into the UK from Asia in terms of projects and jobs generated, and ranks among the UK'stop 10 foreign direct investment markets.?
UK Trade and Investment is Britain'sofficial organisation to provide integrated support services for British companies engaged in overseas trade, as also foreign businesses focused on the UK as an inward investment location. According to the agency, manufacturing now represents just under a fifth of the British economy but accounts for more than 30 per cent of inward investment projects and some 40 per cent of jobs created. A number of sectors have seen significant investments?notably IT, software and electronics with 217 projects, and biotechnology and pharmaceuticals with 58.
Sikh Project United War Veterans
Two war veterans have been reunited after 60 years with the help of a new project to highlight the contribution of Sikhs to British history. Rajinder Singh, 82, who served in Myanmar in World War II, said he was ?ecstatic? at meeting fellow soldier George Marsh at the Royal Chelsea Hospital in London. Singh said: ?I met George in Burma (now Myanmar) in 1944, but we never thought we would see each other again. I was very happy to see that he was still alive.?
The men were reunited through Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail, a project designed to bring history to life. Director Harbinder Singh brought the two veterans together.
Harbinder Singh told Eastern Eye: ?We wanted to find people who had served together in the war, but perhaps did not recall each other. The reunion of Rajinder and George shows the long connection of Sikhs with the British. Their meeting is a reminder of the deep historical roots that make the Sikh community no strangers to the UK.?
During the emotional meeting, the two men recalled how they survived harsh jungle conditions as they helped bring Britain to eventual victory. ?We talked about our days in Burma, and the difficulties we faced then, and how dangerous it was,? Rajinder said. ?Soldiers came to us to get supplies but many of them got wounded and died, and it was difficult to survive in the jungles and hills, especially in the rainy season. It was a horrible time,? he recalled. ?But we also remembered many brave friends, who gave their lives for democracy and peace. Our world would be a different place if it hadn'tbeen for them.? Rajinder joined the Royal Indian Army Service Corps in 1941, serving until after the Independence of India, leaving eventually in 1951.
Rajinder settled in Britain in 1963 and now lives in Hounslow, west London. He has seven grandchildren, one of whom is following in his trail. ?My grandson was inspired by looking at old photographs of mine, and he is now in the Territorial Army,? Rajinder said proudly. ?History goes on.?
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])