“My plans are to engage with the British Indian community to encourage them to become more publicly and politically spirited. They are no longer immigrants as they have been here for 40 and even 50 years. Many are born here and as a result, their destinies are linked with Britain. They must shape their own future by becoming decision-makers rather than leaving it to others.” An exclusive interview with Dr Rami Ranger, the newly appointed co-chairmen of Conservative Friends of India
Dr Rami Ranger CBE was recently appointed as the new Co-Chairmen of the Conservative Friends of India, a group affiliated to the Conservative Party which aims to build stronger links between the Conservative Party, the British Indian community and India.
Dr Ranger is a founding member of the Hindu Forum of Britain, and Chairman of the Pakistan, India & UK Friendship Forum, and the British Sikh Association. His company, Sun Mark Ltd, is the only company in the UK to have been awarded 5 consecutive Queens Awards for enterprise. He is also the Patron of the Punjabi Society of British Isles, the Combat Stress and a Fellow of the Prince’s Trust. As a key supporter of youth and skills development, Rami is a member of the government’s Apprenticeship Delivery Board and an Ambassador for the Food and Drinks Industry in the development of apprenticeships and job creation throughout the UK. In 2005 he was made a Member of the British Empire and in 2016 the Commander of British Empire for his services to British Business and the Asian Community.
People who are black, Asian or from a minority ethnic background (BAME) are underrepresented in British politics. BAME people make up just 7.9 per cent of MPs (51 out of 650), despite the fact they are 14 per cent of the population. It is just 4 per cent in the local government. Former Prime Minister David Cameron promised to allocate 20 per cent of the retirement seats of Conservatives to BAME candidates. He mentioned this during the launch of BAME manifesto at a crowded event at Croydon in 2015. Dr Rami Ranger talks to Azeez Anasudhin to share his strategy to win more BAME voters to the Conservative fold.
You are in the saddle of one of the most important positions in British politics. What was your first reaction to the appointment?
I consider it to be my privilege to be asked to serve both the largest and the oldest democracies of the world by bringing them even more closer to one another.
Unlike other leaders, you reached this position step by step. You are familiar with both ranks and files of the Conservative party. As the leader of CFI, what will be your agenda to attract the Indian community to the Conservative fold?
My task will be to make my fellow British Indians aware of the Conservative values and how they are better off supporting the Party with our values. I will engage with the students, young individuals and entrepreneurs to join the Party and network with the like-minded people to become strong and politically astute.
The country is divided over Brexit. There are divisions in the cabinet also. What is your take on Brexit?
I believe every challenge brings opportunity and Brexit offer us a huge opportunity for Britain to become a world player. Britain has always been a trading nation with special long standing links with the world. It has always enjoyed special relations with the Commonwealth Countries, America, Japan and China. It can now forge trade links with any country in the world. Besides, if any country cannot control its borders, then it cannot control its destiny either. Unlimited immigration attracted by Britain’s economic strength can have detrimental effects on the race relations in this country not to mention unsustainable pressure on public services.
Are you happy with the way the Brexit strategy taking shape under Prime Minister Theresa May?
Yes, I am. The Prime Minister is a tough and pragmatic leader who I believe will get us the best Brexit deal where it will prove a win, win for all.
BAMEs constitute nearly 12 per cent of the British population. But their presence in the Parliament is just over 5 per cent. As the co-chairman of the CFI, what will you do to end this anomaly?
My plans are to engage with the British Indian community to encourage them to become more publicly and politically spirited. They are no longer immigrants as they have been here for 40 and even 50 years. Many are born here and as a result, their destinies are linked with Britain. They must shape their own future by becoming decision-makers rather than leaving it to others. Despite progress in several sectors, BAMEs are under-represented in judiciary, defence, government machinery and media. What will you do to promote more BAME representation in these sectors?
As an Apprenticeship Diversity Champion appointed by the government, I work with the Government to help and develop strategy to increase opportunities for the BAME community in the development of skills and jobs.
India will get a prominent role in the post-Brexit business scenario in Britain. As a prominent businessman, what’s your comment on Indo-UK business relationships?
It is the aim of the government to build even deeper relations with the largest democracy in the world. Already more and more Indian and British companies are investing in bilateral trade. This trade is poised to grow significantly. I am taking a delegation of 10 British MPs to India to build their better understanding of India.
As Co-Chairman of the Conservative Friends of India, I will work to further enhance the involvement of the British Indian community in the political life of our great country which will bring about a positive change to the UK through their participation within the Conservative Party and political service in UK. I am putting together a new team at CF India which will help me with the required support network to truly allow CF India to capitalise and maximise on the significant and exciting opportunities we have at hand both in the UK and with greater trade and cultural ties with India as the UK’s key Commonwealth partner. The relationship between the Conservative Party, and the India diaspora, is the closest it has ever been”.