Dr Rami Ranger CBE is a founder and Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd, and Sea, Air & Land Forwarding Ltd. He is the Co-Chairman of the Conservative Friends of India.
This week, our Prime Minister described the 1919 Amritsar massacre as a ‘shameful scar’ on Britain’s history with India – and it is just that. A scar, a past wound that has healed but will never be forgotten. The 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre will be marked by Sikh communities not only in this country but across the world on Saturday. On that day, 100 years ago, British Indian Army soldiers under the command of Brigadier-General Dyer fired into an unarmed crowd, killing hundreds of protestors in just 10 minutes, the majority of whom were Sikh.
As a proud Sikh and Chair of the British Sikh Associations it is an anniversary that I observe each year to remember all those who suffered and died as a result of this tragedy. Yet I also share the view of Foreign Office minister, Mark Field, who has said he believes what while we must always remember the past and learn lessons from it, the best way of all to honour the memory of all those who suffered and died at Jallianwala Bagh is to celebrate and build upon the partnership that Britain and India enjoy today.
While the UK is one of the world’s oldest democracies, India is the world’s largest which is why our continued collaboration is a force for global good. As Chairman of Conservative Friends of India, I am committed to continuing to build on UK-India relations and I am honoured to have received awards for my work promoting and enhancing our established business links. The strength of the Anglo-Indian partnership reflects India’s emerging stature and standing in the world as a positive economic, social and political force. Our partnership is based on shared values and a commitment to continued mutual prosperity and security.
As the owner of a global distribution business, I can attest to the close collaboration and business links we enjoy with India. In fact, trade and investment are growing rapidly and we are each among the top investors in the other’s economy. Not only that but UK exports to India last year amounted to around £7.6 billion and imports to the UK were over £12 billion. Indian-owned businesses like mine have created 110,000 jobs in the UK and in turn, talented Indian workers have come to Britain. In fact, this country has issued more skilled work visas to India that all other countries combined. What is more, the Indian contribution to the UK economy continues to grow with the numbers of Indian people working, studying and visiting the UK steadily increasing. In 2018, there was a 35 per cent increase in student visas, a six per cent increase in working visas and a ten per cent increase in visit visas. The Grant Thornton India meets Britain tracker for 2018 noted that there are 800 Indian companies operating in this country with their diverse range of investments demonstrating their long-term commitment to the UK.
However, despite this close economic partnership, our enduring connection to India is through people and the migrant communities which I am immensely proud to be part of. As a British Indian, I am part of the UK’s largest diaspora community. There 1.5 million Indians living in the UK from across the country’s Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities. My generation and the generation before us successfully integrated into this country and have prospered. But we have sustained our cultural and familial links to our ancestral home. That is why it is incredibly important that we remember and acknowledge the scars in our Anglo-Indian history such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. But I am determined that, while we mark the tragedies in our past, we focus on celebrating our current partnership and enduring friendship with India so we are able to continue to capitalise on our diaspora link to one of the world’s largest economies and most vibrant and diverse countries.