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October - November 2008

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Dispatches & Reports

London, UK – The Government announced a change in the law allowing students from overseas to remain in the UK after their graduation to work for two years rather than one year, as was previously the case.

Lord Bilimoria welcomed the Government’s announcement having called for precisely this change in policy in the oral question he tabled to the Government with unanimous cross-party support on this very issue in the House of Lords in June last year. In the House of Lords Question Time on the 27th June 2007, Lord Bilimoria asked the Government: “Whether they will extend the International Graduates Scheme to allow non-United Kingdom nationals graduating from recognised universities the right to work in the United Kingdom for two years, along the lines of the Fresh Talent Scheme currently operated in Scotland.”

Lord Adonis, the Government Minister, responded by saying that “eligibility for the scheme will be subject to periodic review, and the Government do not rule out extending it in the future. We will closely monitor Scotland's Fresh Talent Scheme, which has been in operation for only two years.”

Lord Bilimoria argued: “By allowing foreign students and graduates to stay on and work for two years after they graduate, they contribute to our economy, gain work experience, are able to pay back some of their education fees and, most of all, there will be a link with their countries for generations to come.”

Having also highlighted this issue with the Government at the annual meeting of the IK India Roundtable in 2007 and once again in 2008, Lord Bilimoria is delighted to finally see the change in policy made, believing that this illustrates how crucial the UK India Roundtable summits are, where discussions and proposals are listened to and acted upon.

Speaking yesterday, Lord Bilimoria commented: “In my role as Chairman of the UK India Business Council and UK Chair of the Indo British Partnership I am so proud to see record numbers of Indian students studying here in Britain. I believe that the Government announcement allowing students from overseas to remain in the UK after their graduation for two years will help attract even more Indian students to Britain. I am grateful to the UK Government for listening and acting on this matter. This move will continue to build on the extremely strong and close relationship that exists between the UK and India.”

“Britain is proud of its world class higher education and has four of the top 10 universities in the world. It is so important that we continue to attract the best and the brightest students to our country. This change in policy will go some way in ensuring that we maintain our leading position within the global economy.”


The stately homes of England are becoming venues of choice for a new generation of Asian brides.

Because they are among the few preferred venues that offer enough space for Asian celebrations – which are typically up to five times the size of an average UK wedding.

So the market interest is growing higher than ever - says leading wedding planner and event specialist Raj Somaiya.

Raj runs Manchester-based Payal Prestige specialising in large-scale fairytale marquee weddings. In the last four months he has organised receptions at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Cliveden in Berkshire, Harewood House in Yorkshire and Knowsley Hall on Merseyside.

“Asian couples don’t just invite family and friends – they invite whole communities,” says Raj, “so a wedding becomes a get-together of almost everyone they have ever known.

“But we just can’t find enough large venues. That’s why the Asian market is moving towards country estates which have the right amount of space as well as car parks that sometimes need to take over 120 vehicles.”

The trend is welcomed by Britain’s Historic Houses Association. “We are delighted whenever we can help bridal couples and their families to find the right venue for their wedding,” said President, James Hervey-Bathurst. “It is particularly welcome that more and more Asian families see historic houses as the right place for a wedding, because of their romance, tradition, hospitality and spirit of continuity. That is the way their owners see them too.”

Places like Capesthorne Hall - set in 100 acres of picturesque Cheshire parkland near Macclesfield and owned by the county’s Lord Lieutenant William Bromley-Davenport whose family has governed it since Domesday times.

“Couples are growing bored with the same old hotel circuit,” says Nicholas Bromley-Davenport. “They are discovering more romantic and photogenic places that offer alternative benefits of country space and exclusive privacy.”

The London Book Fair announces its Market Focus line up for the next two years: India and South Africa

The London Book Fair and British Council have recently announced that India would be the Market Focus country in 2009, and South Africa in 2010. This follows from the huge success of the Arab World as Market Focus in 2008.

The London Book Fair Market Focus is an important opportunity for UK and international publishers to liaise with their foreign counterparts, seek out and capitalise on new business partnerships in countries with strong publishing industries. The biggest opportunity it presents is to enable local publishers to promote their companies to the international arena. Market Focus also helps international publishers better understand how different markets operate, and offers an opportunity to identify fresh and exciting new authors not yet published in English or other languages.

Both India and South Africa are big markets for English language books, yet both function quite differently and each presents its own set of challenges. Both countries use many different languages in commerce and literature, so understanding linguistic and cultural diversity is essential to understand both markets. Both India and South Africa host emerging and important book fairs.

A series of activities leading up to each Market Focus programme will be unveiled in the run up to next year’s Fair, and the seminar programme for India will be announced early 2009. Following the success of the Arab World Market Focus 2008 the UK’s international cultural relations body, British Council, will once again partner with The London Book Fair on the cultural programme.

India 2009

The partners for the India Market Focus will be Capexil (a non-profit organisation designed to promote Indian exports) and the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP). The theme will be “India Through Fresh Eyes” and the programme will cover linguistic, economic, geographic and demographic issues. Writers featured will range from young to old, from established to debut novelists. Publishers and printers will be based throughout the hall as well as on the official pavilion. A professional programme will be run, aimed at providing Indian publishers and printers with publishing training, as well as matchmaking opportunities to grow their business.

A spokesperson for FIP comments: “The Federation of Indian Publishers is pleased to accept the invitation offered to India as a Market Focus country at The London Book Fair 2009. India has a vibrant book publishing industry and The London Book Fair will provide great opportunity to our publishers and also to old and new emerging authors to showcase their latest titles and highlight the progress made in India in the book publishing industry.”

A spokesperson for Capexil notes: “We believe that the participation of Indian publishers in the Market Focus programme will not only generate better exports, it should also pave the way for productive business relationships between Indian publishers, distributors and exporters with their foreign counterparts who also attend the Fair.”

Independence Day of India celebrated in Edinburgh

The Independence Day of India was celebrated in Edinburgh on August 15, 2008, with due solemnity and enthusiasm. A Flag hoisting ceremony was held in the morning at the residence of the Consul General of India Mr. Ramesh Chander which was attended by cross sections of the Indian community in Scotland. Consul General Ramesh Chander read the message of the President of India on the occasion and wished the Indian community in Scotland further success and prosperity. The singing of patriotic and devotional Indian songs spontaneously by the participants succeeded in bringing about the right atmosphere of national celebrations.

Consul General Ramesh Chander hosted an official Reception to celebrate the Independence Day in the evening at a prestigious venue – St Thomas of Aquins RC High School in which distinguished invitees from the Scottish society including Provosts, Members of the Scottish Parliament, Consular Corps participated. Rt Hon’ble Ms Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning represented the First Minister of Scotland and the Scottish Government at the function as the Chief Guest. Lord Provost of Edinburgh Mr. George Grubb also participated as the Guest of Honour at the function. Speaking at the Reception Consul General congratulated the Indian community on the occasion and added that it was a matter of great satisfaction that, over the years, multifaceted cooperation between India and Scotland and the UK were getting stronger and stronger to mutual advantage. Hon’ble Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop referring to the Consul General’s speech said that the positive outcome of good cooperation would certainly further strengthen the existing excellent relations between India and Scotland. She appreciated the positive contribution of the Indian community to the economic, social and cultural life. Lord Provost of Edinburgh in his speech greeted the Indian community and said that he was particularly happy that an impressive band of the Indian armed forces was participating in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The cultural interlude of Indian songs and dances put together by the local talent led by Herman Rodrigues, Bani Bhattacharya and Anuj Kapilashrami was the highlight of the Independence Day celebrations in Edinburgh.

Indian Law Firm Inward Trade Mission to the UK: 2 to 5 September 2008.

The Law Society of England and Wales invited 20 Indian law firms to visit the UK from 2-5 September 2008 in order to meet English law firms interested in establishing cross border links.

Giving the details of the mission city based Advocate, Mr. Ranjit Malhotra specialising in areas of international law, partner Malhotra and Malhotra associates, said the trade mission visited London, Cambridge, Birmingham and Leeds. In each location there was an introductory ‘scene setting’ event and two additional networking events, at least one of which involved a more general business audience. Participants on the Indian side primarily included firms having experience of international transactions or international clients. Invitations were initially sent to the top 50 Indian law firms in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.

However, on a very general level, the endeavour of the Law Society was that both UK and Indian firms go away with a better understanding of each other’s legal systems and a deeper appreciation of the vast array of opportunities and expertise that are available for both sides to tap into.

Paul Marsh, President of the Law Society of Britain said: “There is nowhere in the world that is currently attracting as much attention, either as an overseas market for our companies or as an inward investor into this country, as India. “Today India is the third largest investor in the UK not just because of our historical connections and the comfort levels that we have in dealing with each other, but also because of the great opportunities that this country offers to investors”.

Referring to the current visit of representatives of 20 law firms to the UK, Marsh said “the objective of this exercise is to ensure that we lawyers, who are always at the heart of every significant business, have established relationships through this trade mission and are ready to help their clients take advantage of all the opportunities that UK-India trade and investment have to offer.”

“In the last four years, 35 million pounds worth legal work pertaining to international deals have been done in India and during the same period ten times of that work was done abroad,” Ms Alison Hook, Head of International, The Law Society of Britain told the delegates at the inaugural ceremony.Ms Sharon Bamford, Chief Executive of the Indo-British Business Council, said British lawyers could play an important role in promoting business between India and the UK.

Some of the delegates were invited to the UK India Business Council Gala Dinner, hosted by The Rt. Hon’ble. The Lord Mayor Alderman David Lewis with Chairman, Lord Bilimoria CBE,DL in aid of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal.This charity dinner was hosted at the palatial official residence of the Mayor of London, proceeds of which are to be utilised for the welfare of the blind people in India.

On the whole, the week long events proved to be an enjoyable and rewarding week of contact forming and relationship building between the UK’s and India’s legal professionals.

­­­ Ranjit Malhotra is a felix scholar and LLM from the university of london (immigration laws). his Chandigarh based firm Malhotra & Malhotra Associates specialises in areas of immigration and international law.

Lighting the Way between East and West.

A spectacular festival of light has been announced for one of the UK’s most historic cities. Enlightenment: Durham International Light Festival will take place this autumn in the idyllic City, famous for its Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site.

Four light-based artworks, inspired by Durham’s religious and industrial history, will be exhibited on the City’s bridges, illustrating Durham as viewed by two very different cultures. 

Created by two Indian and two UK-based artists, the installations are a fusion of cultural identities, creative styles and methods of working. The individual pieces take their inspiration from the sacred texts, iconic images and the traditions of Durham and several Eastern societies.

Enlightenment was initiated by Durham City Arts with support from Durham City Vision. Two installations by Indian based artists are being managed by ISIS Arts, while Grit and Pearl has responsibility for two further pieces originating in the UK.

It takes place as part of EAST’08, a world-class celebration of contemporary Asian culture in North East England, managed by culture10 at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, and takes place November 6-8 2008.

Stella Hall, Director of the culture10 programme based at NewcastleGateshead Initiative said: “Enlightenment is another great example of the cultural programme engaging with innovative international artists to create exciting new work that is firmly rooted in the history and landscape of the North East and will provide another compelling reason to visit Durham this autumn.”  

Esther Salamon from Durham City Arts said: “As part of our aims to make the North East a colourful, vibrant and exciting place to visit, we are delighted to help bring such a wonderful event to this wonderful City. The artists have done a fantastic job of interpreting Durham’s history through the medium of light.”

Kate James, Events Coordinator for Durham City Vision, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this world class cultural event. This original and international celebration of Durham’s extraordinary religious and industrial history is fantastic, and one that illustrates our ambition to host top quality events in the City.”

Clymene Christoforou from ISIS Arts said, “What I find most thrilling is that in a corner of India, the history of Durham is being analysed, interpreted and brought to life through art. We’re so looking forward to bringing the artists and their pieces to North East England.”

The Exhibits

Calcutta Lights by Nandita Palchoudhury will use bamboo from the Tyne structure, reincarnating the material into two lit arches across Elvet Bridge. The arches will be decorated with intricate interpretations of the Durham Sanctuary Knocker and Rose Window created by thousands of tiny bulbs. The public will be able to walk through the installation.

Enlightenment by Lulu Quinn is a 15m wide illuminated chandelier suspended from Kingsgate Bridge. Hanging from the structure will be text taken from the works of the venerable Bede and translated into Japanese, Modern English and Arabic. The multilingual extracts will be reflected by light onto the River Wear, enabling the text to be animated, distorted and mirrored.

Light of Darkness by Sanchayan Ghosh is based on the idea of Bede’s eyes and the third eye of enlightenment within Indian tradition. Two shining eyes will hang under Framwellgate Bridge and look up towards the spectacular Castle and Cathedral landscape. Durham’s mining tradition will be represented through the use of miners’ helmets to make up the glowing iris of each eye.

Illuminated Carpet by Julie Westerman is inspired by Persian gardens and the rug making traditions of Durham. The complex patterns will represent the meditative writing and paintings of sacred texts and the contemplative patterns of Persian carpets.

The major pieces are supported by Intermittent, a light trail of smaller light installations, projections, film works and light boxes exhibited in shop windows across the City.

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