Bhubaneswar: Noting that UK-India ties are undergoing a major transformation amid flourishing trade and business, Britain on Wednesday sought concrete steps to further strengthen bonds with states like Odisha in their journey towards poverty reduction and prosperity.
"Since 2010 UK-India relationship has undergone an important transformation. Trade links have been strengthened, business and innovation flourishes, extreme poverty continues to fall," said UK Minister Desmond Swayne at the opening of 'Celebrating Partnerships - UK in Odisha' campaign here.
Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set out a visionary agenda, he said the UK wants to be India's partner of choice on its journey.
There exists several opportunities for UK and Indian companies to hit the 'triple bottom line' of profit, environmental and social impact, Swayne said adding growth in a low income state will mean more market opportunities and partnerships for companies. A better skilled and productive workforce will mean more efficient manufacturing, he said.
Calling for closer Odisha-UK partnership, Swayne said, "Odisha is one of the most vibrant and dynamic states in India. The state government is committed to poverty reduction and we will continue to work together, sharing skills and expertise."
Stating that the UK wants to be Odisha's partner of choice on its development journey towards increased prosperity, he said in November 2012 the UK government announced it would end its programme of financial grant aid to India by the end of 2015.
The new UK-India development partnership will instead be based on technical assistance programmes, focused on sharing skills and expertise, investments in private sector projects focused on helping the poor, and working in partnership with India on global development issues like food security and climate change, the UK minister said.
Inaugurating the three-day event, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said there are six ongoing programmes supported by UK government with a total commitment of over GBP 150 million. Current programmes involve strengthening of governance and administration and urban infrastructure, he added.
Both the UK and Odisha have strengthened partnership in areas like industry, finance, health, tourism and infrastructure, Patnaik said adding the present campaign would explore new possibilities for alliances in other sectors too, besides strengthening the existing ties.
British Deputy High Commissioner, Scott Furssedonn-Wood said: "We are celebrating a new era in relationship with Odisha. We want to be a partner for the state as it builds that future. We want more talented young Odishans to study at the UK's world class universities."
"We want more British companies - and I've brought 10 Great British companies with me this week - to bring their world class products and services to Odisha. We want to share more UK ideas and expertise as Odisha rises to the challenges of urbanisation and of climate change. We want stronger, deeper connections between our people," he said.
The event, being organised by the British Deputy High Commission and British Council Kolkata, includes several programmes to highlight UK expertise and take forward the Odisha-UK partnership especially in areas of education, urbanisation and tackling climate change.
Apart from core business, climate change and education events, the British Council will be running a festival of Shakespeare films in schools and colleges in Bhubaneswar selected especially keeping local curriculum in mind. From the BBC's Shakespeare Collection, the Council will screen "The Comedy of Errors", "Romeo and Juliet",
"Twelfth Night", "All's Well That Ends Well", "As You Like It" and "The Taming of the Shrew".
The UK is also supporting the Jungle Crows Foundation to organise a 'Odisha Rugby World Cup Jamboree 2015'. Eight teams of Bhubaneswar school girls and boys will play their own version of the Rugby World 2015 which will take place in England in September and October this year.