India UK Young Professionals Network (IYPN), in association with High Commission of India, hosted a panel discussion on Brexit : What it means for India and Indians in the UK?
The panelists were Lord Karan Bilimoria, Mr Dinesh Patnaik, acting High Commissioner of India and Prof. Sunil Khilnani, Director, India Institute, King’s College. Over 60 young Indian-origin professionals from the fields of banking, law, technology, development, retail and art & culture were present.
The event began with a welcome by Mr A.S. Rajan, Minister Co-ordination, HCI followed by an update on IYPN activities by founder, Manav Gupta highlighting the key objectives of the organisation.
Manav said it was imperative to “CONNECT-ENGAGE-IMPACT” to stay relevant in the long run.
The website was launched (www.iypn.co.uk) and new initiatives like WIN (Women Initiatives Network coffee mornings), IYPN tune-in series, IMPACT initiatives and pitch party were outlined by IYPN cofounder and art entrepreneur Arunima Kumar.
The panel discussion began with Mr Dinesh Patnaik highlighting key issues of immigration and sovereignty that were drivers behind Brexit. India was embedded into the UK from being both a trading partner and having Indian companies based out of the UK. The process of invoking Article 50 and negotiations was going to be a slow process, but UK will maintain its edge in the long run.
Prof. Khilnani began with saying that Brexit was a turning point for the world bringing with it new challenges. While increase in income inequality was instrumental in both Brexit and Trump’s victory in US, Prof Khilnani gave a more nuanced view where he said that globalisation was something that created the middle class in India by destroying the working class in the West. Looking inward was however not the solution as there were countries like Sweden that have embraced globalization and at the same time built one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. Having said that, India was likely to face a difficult task due to inward looking anti-globalization rhetoric.
Lord Bilimoria took us through a history of UK and the transformation of London that he had witnessed since he came here as a student 35 years ago. While India was in a similar boat back in the late 80s, globalisation has greatly benefitted both nations. His view was that Brexit was driven by mis-information and those that voted for Brexit are likely to be the biggest losers in this. With an unemployment rate of 5%, the UK needs the immigration to sustain itself and arguments about immigrants taking local jobs are just unfounded. To question of rising income inequality, he made the point that the UK has a public expenditure of close to 50% of GDP, which enabled high level of income redistribution. He also highlighted that to support that level of government expenditure it was essential the economy created sufficient wealth.
The discussion was followed by Q&A. Overall the session was very informative and provided diverse views on Brexit, right from the politics behind it to the very practical implications and the longer term under currents that one needs to bear in mind.
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