India on Thursday lashed out at the 'protectionist' tendencies in some parts of the world against the movement of its skilled professionals, particularly in the sectors of IT, tourism and education.
"Globalisation, more than anything else, is about people. The movement of persons, especially skilled professionals, has emerged as an important aspect of the current discussion on globalisation," K C Pant, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Co-Chairman, Indo-UK Round Table said.
Making his opening remarks at the two-day Sixth India-UK Round Table at the salubrious ambience of the Cotswolds in Worcestershire about 90 km from London, Pant said: "This is a vast area, and has an impact on sectors ranging from tourism to technology and education. There are concerns in India that the success of our software industry may be generating protectionist impulses in some parts of the world."
"We should, in a wired globe, ensure that just as freedom of capital and location are ensured for the manufacturing sector, the freedom of movement of professionals should be ensured for the software and other knowledge-based sectors."
While Pant is leading the Indian delegation at the two-day deliberations, Lord Swraj Paul, NRI industrialist and Ambassador for Overseas British Business, is leading the English team. He is also the Co-Chairman of the Round Table.
The delegation from United Kingdom includes Judith Brown, professor of Commonwealth Studies Balliol College Oxford; Christopher Low, chief executive India region, Standard Chartered; Patrick French, author; Sir David Goodall, former British High Commissioner to India; Richard Lambert, former chief editor, Financial Times; Sir Mark Tully, broadcaster; and Sir Rob Young, British High Commissioner to India.
The Indian delegation includes Mohammed Hamid Ansari, vice chancellor of Aligarh University; Ronen Sen, India's High Commissioner to the UK; several businessmen, media persons, academicians and senior bureaucrats.
Apart from an overall review of the global situation and bilateral relations the main themes for discussions include the future of multilateralism, multilateral institutions, trade and investment.
Noting that the Indo-UK partnership has been greatly strengthened by the increased frequency of consultations at the highest political levels, Pant said: "All these have led to an increasingly better understanding of each other's views on issues of interest to both of us and also helped to foster linkages in areas such as counter-terrorism, intelligence-sharing and defence cooperation.
"The excellent state of our bilateral relations has in fact highlighted the need and the possibility of leveraging our relationship to be of value in the broader international political and economic context as well.
"We in India regard UK's unstinting support to India's candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council as a reflection of this growing confidence in each other, not just as bilateral but also as global partners."
Noting that bilateral trade and economic ties have also improved steadily, Pant said the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Confederation of British Industries have set the ambitious target of doubling trade turnover to £10 billion by 2007 and "we look forward to the dynamism and enterprise of our respective business communities to realise it."
He said though investment flows in both directions have continued, "this is an area where we need to focus our efforts a little better." The satisfactory resolution of the issues faced by British Gas in India was a welcome development in the context, he said.
"India and the UK are going through incessant change in economic and technological terms. The process of economic reform in India is unleashing the latent entrepreneurial spirit of our businesses and altering peoples' expectations of growth and prosperity," Pant said.
Noting that the UK has continued to forge ahead in the world economy, and has cemented its reputation as a great trading nation and an important financial centre, he said: "We need to continue to discuss ways to overcome impediments, whether structural, procedural or others that hinder a more constructive and fruitful economic and commercial."