Vanakkam Kovai (Greetings Coimbatore)
Mikka Magzhilchi (extremely glad)
Many thanks to ASHTANAYIKAS (Eight heroines) in Shakespeare dance presentation ‘Understanding the ways of Women’ by Shreya Kallingal. Please join me in thanking them…
Friends, Indians, Countrymen, lend me your ears.
I am proud to host this dinner to celebrate HM Queen Elizabeth II as UK’s longest reigning monarch. I am even more proud to celebrate it in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu’s second largest city, a major industrial hub, and one of the largest manufacturers of pumps and valves in the country. We know that increasingly India is happening in the Tier 2 cities, which is why we now have a full-time resource in both Coimbatore - in Saju Matthew - and in Kochi. You can expect to see a lot more of me and my team in your city. And that’s why this we’re hosting our first-ever National Day Celebration in Coimbatore - the Manchester of India - tonight.
. Historically, these were centred around the textile industry, but we now have a number of companies with offices here, and our aim is to bring here. Many educational institutions here have partnerships with UK institutions, with more in the pipeline. And last, but certainly not least, we are partners in the healthcare space.
People to people links are also key. Earlier this evening we celebrated our strong alumni links in partnership with the Association of British Scholars with an event that celebrated the tradition of innovation in both our countries. I know that most of you are regular visitors to the UK: please don’t stop!
2015 was a big year for UK and India. Last November, we welcomed Prime Minister Modi to the UK. That visit resulted in over £9 billion of business deals and built on the long traditional links between our two countries, including the one and a half million Indian diaspora. Her Majesty spoke of ‘an enhanced partnership’, with India a key government priority. Our prime ministers also discussed how we could work together for global prosperity and security, and on delivering Prime Minister Modi’s vision for India, by transforming its economy, building 100 smart cities, skilling 500 million young people, providing around the clock electricity for all; building 10,000km of roads. These are massive projects. Britain will help to transform this vision into a reality, including by leveraging the strengths of the UK financial markets. In Prime Minister Modi’s words, ‘after James Bond, Brooke Bond we go to Rupee Bond!’
23 April marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, playwright, poet and actor. The language of Shakespeare is the language of the world. English is the most widely spoken language on the planet, and the language of choice in business, diplomacy, science, education, IT and entertainment. 2 billion people will be studying English by 2020. Look out for a range of events across India throughout the year, including in Coimbatore.
This year we celebrate the fact that 64 years ago on 6 February, Queen Elizabeth acceded to the British throne. In September, she overtook Queen Victoria as the UK’s longest reigning monarch. And in just over a month, she will celebrate her 90th birthday. This is an extraordinary achievement for a monarch and her Consort Prince Philip who have dedicated their lives to service for the British Crown, including as the Head of the Commonwealth. May I ask you to please join me in raising a toast to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
We hope you enjoy our carefully selected British Indian fare tonight including the most popular UK dish, the exalted chicken tikka masala and - of course - fish and chips. I will end with another quote from the Bard. ‘And to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in a merry hour’. I enjoin you all to have a very merry evening!