Sadiq Khan has become the first Mayor of London to lead a trade mission to both India and Pakistan. He started his six cities in six days tour across both countries on Sunday 3rd December.
The focus of the Mayor’s visit to the subcontinent is to build new business and trade links in both counties, and make connections across their cultural and creative industries.
Prior to leaving for the trip, Sadiq Khan expressed, “I want to strengthen the links that exist between London and the great cities of India and Pakistan. I know there is a huge amount we can learn from each other and that there is scope for even greater collaboration. I’m passionate about deepening the relationship we have across a wide range of areas – from trade and business to tourism, technology, education, sport, culture and the arts. I will also remind everyone I meet that London will always be a city full of opportunity and one that embraces people of different, nationalities, faiths and backgrounds. And that as the Mayor of London I am doing everything within my power to make London as warm, welcoming and accessible to Indian and Pakistani students, business people and entrepreneurs as possible.”
Sadiq will press home the main message of his ‘London Is Open’ campaign - that, despite the EU referendum result, London remains the best place in the world to study, do business and visit.
Before embarking on his 6-day mission to India and Pakistan, Sadiq Khan unveiled a bronze sculpture of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the first Prime Minister of Independent Pakistan at the British Museum in London. Unveiled on 28th November, this bust sculpture marks the 70th anniversary of Pakistan's independence. Post the unveiling ceremony, the sculpture of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was moved to Lincoln's Inn, where he trained as a barrister in 1893.
Sadiq Khan, the first British-Pakistani to have been elected as the Mayor of London first visited Mumbai, India as part of his 6-day mission in India and Pakistan. He visited Mani Bhavan, the headquarters of Mahatma Gandhi, which now stands as a museum to India's national hero. The Mayor of London laid flowers at the memorial to pay homage to the Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and then proceeded to take a tour of the museum.
The Mayor of London also visited the Taj Palace Hotel, the site where the atrocious terror attack took place on 26th November 2008. He attended the memorial and paid his respect to those who were injured and lost their lives in the terror attack.
On the first day of his tour, Sadiq Khan was very well received by many dignitaries as well as high-profile Bollywood celebrities. During his tour of Mumbai, he praised the young aspiring footballers at the ninth annual finals day of the Mumbai Soccer challenge, and watched a challenge match to win the inaugural Mayor of London Cup. He also announced that two boys and two girls will be travelling to London to train with Queens Park Rangers.
At the event, the Mayor of London said, “This initiative is another example of the close links between India and London. It has been fantastic to see the passion and skill of these young footballers, and to be able to announce that two girls as well as two boys will be travelling to London to train with Queens Park Rangers. I wish them every success and it is heartening to see how grassroots sport can inspire, thrill and change the lives of young people all over the world.”
The event was also joined by the debonair Bollywood star, Ranbir Kapoor, who is also the co-owner of Mumbai City Football Club.
The elitists and the crème de la crème left no stone unturned in welcoming Sadiq Khan on his first day in India. The business magnate, Mukesh Ambani hosted a dinner which encompassed a multitude of high-profile business people, as well as top celebrities; to name a few, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar.
After the event, Khan took to Twitter to show his gratitude for the dinner hosted by Ambani. He tweeted: “Thank you to the Ambani family @karanjaran & @milinddeora for hosting a fantastic evening with business and creative industry leaders to mark my trip to Mumbai. #LondonIsOpen”.
During his tour, Mumbai also confirmed that it will join the World Cities Culture Forum the leading collaborative network of world cities that share a belief in the importance of culture for creating thriving metropolitan environments. The Mayor met Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, to promote London as open and welcoming to the exchange of ideas, visitors, talent, creativity and business from Mumbai. Mumbai will be the first Indian city to join the Forum, which was launched in London in 2012. It is a leading collaborative network that has grown from 12 to 33 member cities that share research and best practices, advancing the vital role of culture in their cities.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said, “Culture helps create thriving urban centres, contributes to a city’s success and underpins sustainable urban development. London established the World Cities Culture Forum and I am delighted that Mumbai is the first Indian city to join the Forum in 2018, sharing its experiences and learning from other members cities. It is a perfect end to our time in Mumbai.”
India and the UK have had historical links for centuries and its no secret that Indians living in the UK have aided boost Britain's economy and stature. However, the eradication of post-study work route has been highly criticised, especially by the Mayor of London. He calls on the British Government to make it easier for young Indians to study and work in London. He said, “In 2012, the UK chose to get rid of the post-study work visa. The UK has made a big mistake. Students from outside are great assets, not just for the fees that they bring in. We are lobbying for change in policies.”
The Mayor further added, “In London I’m making the case loud and clear for a fair, flexible immigration system that allows us to attract talented people – with fewer barriers and less red tape. As part of this, I’m putting forward detailed proposals for a new post-study work visa for international students. The British Prime Minister – Theresa May – got it badly wrong with her decision to close this route a few years ago. Because it’s not only led to a substantial drop in Indian students coming to our universities – it’s in danger of starving my city of great talent.”
On his third day in India, the British Pakistani Mayor of London visited Akshardham Temple in Delhi. Looking eloquent in a white kurta- pajama, Sadiq Khan paid respect to the Hindu deities at the temple.
This truly shows how open-minded he is as a person, and respects everyones' rituals and religion, regardless of how different they may be from his personal beliefs. A true representative of the multiculturalism and tolerance of London, Sadiq Khan is making British-Indians and Pakistanis extremely proud by his poised appearance during this 6-day mission.
During his last leg in India, Khan will be travelling to Amritsar before heading to Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi in Pakistan.