Former Deputy High Commissioner of the UK, Hardeep Puri on the India story

Thursday 17th October 2019 09:16 EDT

On Wednesday 9th October, the High Commission of India in London alongside FICCI UK and other business organisations welcomed India's civil aviation minister, Hardeep Singh Puri to address the Indian diaspora settled here in the UK. Puri served as India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2009-13) and previously was India's Deputy High Commissioner to the UK from 1999 to 2002.

Speaking about the India story, Mr. Puri touched on key issues surrounding the aviation industry in India and the crises in the sector worldwide following the collapse of Jet Airways and Thomas Cook. He also addressed questions around urban housing, climate change and the growing start-up economy in India. Although, the former diplomat veered clear of making bold political statements about the Labour Party's ongoing interference in the subject of Jammu and Kashmir, he condemned the recent attacks on the Indian High Commission in London and said, “One of the beauties of the special Indo-UK relationship is that we have not allowed the hangups of the past to colour our judgments in the present circumstances. The more mature sections in both our countries have seen the benefits of this relationship.

“But the narrative produced in this country around the internal matters of another by some are very far-removed from the reality.” He also discussed the subject of air-connectivity following the collapse of Jet Airways and addressed concerns around dependence on Middle-eastern airline companies whilst travelling to India. Speaking about the privatisation process of Indian carrier Air India, the civil aviation minister said that the airline will be a profitable enterprise for any private players due to its assets and the overall boom in the Indian aviation industry. The process of privatising national carrier Air India Ltd is underway and the government will take all decisions within a specified time frame he assured. Last year, the government tried unsuccessfully to sell Air India.

Earlier, Investors were apprehensive about the airline’s large debt and the government retaining a minority stake in the carrier post privatization. Now besides Puri, a Group of Ministers in India comprising finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, railways minister Piyush Goyal, and home minister Amit Shah are supervising the sale of the loss-making flag carrier.

He later also held detailed deliberations on collaborations in areas of civil aviation, smart cities & renewable energy with Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon MP & MoS for Commonwealth, UN & South Asia. Air India on Tuesday 15 became the first airline in the world to use a Taxibot on a A320 aircraft with passengers onboard.

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