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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-20815: Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 7 January 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what information it can provide regarding the Deputy First Minister’s recent visit to India.

Answered by: Fiona Hyslop 8 January 2019

The Deputy First Minister undertook a successful visit to India (New Delhi and Bangalore) between 24 – 28 November 2018, to strengthen the growing business, cultural and educational links between Scotland and the world’s fastest growing major economy.

The visit highlighted Scotland’s expertise in Innovation, primarily focused on the Technology, Life Sciences and Energy sectors. The Deputy First Minister was accompanied by 15 experts in these fields from six Scottish Universities, who engaged with Indian universities and businesses with a view to promoting trade and investment partnerships. In collaboration with key industry associations and partners including the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), leading Indian Life Sciences company Biocon and the Scotch Whisky Association, the Deputy First Minister hosted four thought leadership events aimed at engaging with key trade and investment prospects to highlight Scotland’s strengths. The Deputy First Minister engaged with key investors such as Genpact, Hinduja Global Solutions, Wipro and new investors/collaborators (including Biocon, Oyo Hotels and drug discovery services company Aurigene) to understand their operations and plans for Scotland.

As a result of the visit, Hinduja Global Solutions, a significant investor in Scotland, have announced the creation of 150 new jobs in Selkirk. and the University of Glasgow and Biocon Limited signed an MoU to facilitate joint PHD programmes between the two organisations focusing on disease biology (oncology, diabetes and auto-immune diseases), as well as technologies covering discovery, analytics and development of biologics. The Deputy First Minister also met with the two Edinburgh University graduates who formed Carbon Masters – an innovative business turning food waste into biofuel and organic manure - that just won a major £1.5 million waste recycling contract with the Bangalore Municipal Authority.

The Deputy First Minister had a constructive meeting with Suresh Prabhu, the Minister for Commerce and Industry, which further strengthened bilateral relations. In this meeting, the Deputy First Minister outlined the focus of his programme and discussed how India and Scotland might collaborate across a range of areas including Life Sciences and entrepreneurship.

The Deputy First Minister highlighted Scotland’s expertise in social enterprise, announcing the second year of funding for the Scotland:India Impact Link programme. This programme, supported by the Scottish Government, provides investment and training for Indian social enterprises backed up with mentoring from Scottish social enterprises, through the Social Enterprise Academy in India.

The Deputy First Minister met recipients of the first round of funding, including Prosoc Innovators who have devised a unique solution to help underprivileged children having the right furniture at home and school to support their studies. The DESKIT, a normal school bag that is convertible into a study table, has benefitted more than 7,000 students in 10 Indian states so far.

While in New Delhi the Deputy First Minister visited Lemon Tree Hotels, to witness a Scotland-India partnership with Glasgow Kelvin College which will facilitate access to training and employment for people with supported learning needs in both countries.

This is a unique partnership developing brand new training and college education frameworks for people with supported learning needs to enable them to access full time roles on the same basis as non-disabled people. The partnership supports social justice objectives in both countries including the Fairer Scotland Action Plan. Social Security Scotland are supporting the initiative and will look at building learning from this programme into their employment practice.

While visiting Lemon Tree Hotels, the Deputy First Minister was also presented with a copy of Being Reshma , the book written by acid attack survivor Reshma Qureshi whom he met on his previous visit to India. Reshma was accompanied by Tania Singh from the NGO, Make Love Not Scars. The Deputy First Minister has provided sleeve notes for the book, which is to be published in the UK next year.

The Deputy First Minister attended a round table discussion hosted by British Council and NITI Aayog, one of India’s leading policy think tanks, with six Scottish and five Indian universities themed on Data and Innovation. Connections between Scottish and Indian Universities were identified and new research partnerships explored.

While in New Delhi, the Deputy First Minister attended a Visit Scotland Travel Trade Roundtable, where key companies from the Indian travel trade and airlines were represented. Scotland was promoted as a place to visit and tourism links were discussed.

In Delhi, the Deputy First Minister attended a dinner with chief executives from Indian oil and gas companies, to look at opportunities for Indian and Scottish companies to work together in this field. In order to drive this further collaboration, Scottish Development International have started recruiting for an energy specialist in India.

In Bangalore, the Deputy First Minister formally launched the Berambadi Primary School Waste Water Treatment Plant. This unique collaboration, funded through the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation International programme, has seen Scotland’s James Hutton Institute working with Indian partners, piloting new technology to provide clean water and sanitation to a school of 200 pupils.

The Deputy First Minister attended two St Andrew’s Day receptions, and formally launched the Scotland Is Now campaign in India. The events showcased Scotland as a place to work, study and invest in, and encouraged and forged good relationships with the Indian business, culture, tourism and education sectors, as well as promoting Scottish food, drink and creative industries. At both events he met alumni from Scottish universities, to understand the impact that studying in Scotland has made.

The Deputy First Minister also took the opportunity to raise the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, with both the UK and Indian Governments.

The Deputy First Minister had media engagements with Indian business papers Business Standard and Hindu Business Line and the visit generated positive media coverage in both Scotland and India, both on social and print media.