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Discrimination against India is shocking: Lord Karan Billimoria

United Kingdom should end its economically illiterate immigration policy says the founding chairman of India-UK business council.

The UK government's decision to exclude India from what is called 'low risk nation' has sparked outrage among the British Indians. Those who have been working towards clamping up the nations together are flabbergasted and call the British government to reconsider its decision.

Lord Karan Billimoria, the founding chairman of India-UK business council is 'shocked at the discrimination against India'. "UK has been kowtowing China, it acknowledges India as an emerging economic power, but they make Indians pay more for a visa than other countries. This is not the way to be friends with India", he said.

India, the third largest investor in the UK, is also the second largest international job creator here. The trade stands at circa USD 12 bn and the two nations have been looking for further growth. In Brexit, UK has the one of the biggest political crisis ever, where the government is scraping against its own cabinet and scrambling over the demands of the EU. Giving India a cold shoulder might not be the best option to get business.

"The (UK) government says we want free trade agreement with India. Free trade deal is more than duties and tariffs. It's also about movement of people. If Britain is not for the movement of Indians then free trade agreement is for the birds", added Lord Billimoria.

Freedom of movement has been one of the major concerns for those who voted leave in the UK referendum. Currently, EU citizens don't require visa to come to the UK. Apart from it, the EU students are qualified for the same tuition fee as the home students. No wonder, thousands of students come to UK to pursue higher studies. However there is a decline in the number of Indian aspirants for the United Kingdom.

According to UK council for international student affairs, Indian students in UK is down by 26% compared to 2012-2013. Lord Billimoria blames the 'hostile immigration policy' for it. "United Kingdom has to end the economically illiterate immigration rules because it's not in its interest", he said.

Talks are underway between India and UK regarding a free trade agreement. With UK leaving the EU next year, India would certainly have an upper hand in negotiations as it would have more options. Would India leverage the opportunity remains to be seen as not much has been heard on the current exclusion issue.


Anilesh Kumar

Anilesh Kumar

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