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New economy, new rules:  Economic Times’ India-UK strategic conclave discusses future of India-UK Partnership

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Shah Rukh Khan recieving award

 Shah Rukh Khan receiving award 

  • The India-UK Strategic Conclave 2018 convened thought leaders, policymakers, academics and entrepreneurs at high profile event in London, powered by the Global Business Summit.
  • Panels and speakers discussed the India-UK strategic partnership in addition to UK and India’s Future Trading Relationship, the impact of Brexit and how to access the potential of India.
  • Notable speakers and panel lists included Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman, GFG Alliance, Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor (Business) and Bollywood actor, producer and activist Shah Rukh Khan.

Tuesday saw the Economic Times’ India-UK Strategic Conclave 2018, powered by the Global Business Summit, taking place at The Dorchester, London.

The unique platform convened top CEOs, government officials and the global elite to discuss the India-UK relationship and future trade and business opportunities that could exist between the two countries.

The theme of the India-UK Conclave 2018 was“New Economy, New Rules”, and explored India’s rise as a global economic power as well as the development of the UK and India’s strategic partnership. The forum opened with remarks from Rinki Dhingra, Senior President and Country Head, Yes Bank, who said “Such a leadership forum demonstrates the strength of the India-UK partnership, and leads to the adoption of new creative ventures, innovations, technologies and paradigms, thereby becoming the platform for collective intelligence and wisdom, and a powerful tool for development.”

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor (Business), London delivered a special address on the strategic ties between India and London, saying “The bilateral relationship is thriving and remains pivotal to London and the United Kingdom as a whole. The Mayor and I are strongly committed to ensuring this strong bond continues to flourish.”

Panels at the conclave included UK and India’s Future Trading Relationship – Forging Partnership of Prosperity, led by a host of Global CEOs including Neeraj Kanwar, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Apollo Tyres and Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman, GFG Alliance.

Special addresses at the conclave included His Excellency Mr. Y.K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India to United Kingdom, who shared his insights on the India-UK relationship and flourishing diaspora, as well as changing dynamics. Speaking about the immense contribution that the India diaspora and 800 Indian companies operating in the UK, he said: “The contribution that the common Indian has made to the UK economy and to better UK-India relations is something to be lauded.”

The conclave also hosted figures from the entertainment industry as well, with a special Fireside chat on the Business of Entertainment with A-list Bollywood actor, producer and activist Shah Rukh Khan. Speaking about the emergence of digital trends in the industry “With the digital platforms, I think you will get feedback very fast… there will be a lot of media created that will be according to the choice of the viewer.” 

Acclaimed actor, producer, singer and songwriter Farhan Akhtar, also took part in an audience interaction discussing his career and the launch of his new single and upcoming album.  Speaking about his album, he said “it’s something that’s very personal to me. I finally penned down thoughts from my life about emotions that I have experienced over the last couple of years….that was very refreshing.” 

Both Shah Rukh Khan and Farhan Akhtar were also recipients of the ET Game Changer Awards for their contribution to globalising Indian Cinema and experiments with contemporary cinema respectively. Other awardees were recognised for their contributions across a range of industries throughout the conclave, and included Vijay Goel, Founder and Chairman, Indo-European Business Forum,Vijay Karia, Chairman & Managing Director, Ravin for fueling Sustainable Energy solutions, Sanjay Ghodawat, Chairman & Managing Director, Sanjay Ghodawat Group of Companies for Driving Growth in Emerging India and Kishor Lulla, Chairman, Eros International for Changing Dynamics of Entertainment.

One of the key panel discussions of the day was Brexit – Can India Help Soften the Blow and the importance of India to the UK once it leaves the EU. Notable attendees for the discussion were Lord Jitesh Gadhia, Parliamentarian, House of Lords and Vindi Banga, Partner, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Senior Independent Director on the Boards of Glaxo SmithKline Plc and Marks & Spencer Plc explored the possibilities and potential of India going forward.

According to Mr Banga: “We [India] is a $3 billion economy, very similar to the UK, but the only difference is that India is growing 6-7% each year. Therefore in five years’ time it will be 25% than the UK.”

He added: “Whichever sector you look at it, if you are a foreign company, you will take a serious look at India. However, it is not a walk in the park; it is a complicated market with good local competitors…it [India] will still be very high on the list of many.”

Lord Gadhia also provided a useful insight into the future of the UK. He argued a key issue is the supply chain for companies and stated the importance of free flow. Speaking at the event, he said: “Clearly in the next few months there is a degree of uncertainty. In some ways British parliament is in some period of playing Russian roulette. If there is anybody who tells you with confidence that they know what’s going to happen, then they are deluding themselves. Nonetheless, there is more of a chance that we will end up with a deal and the key is to retain sufficient access between the UK and Europe so that we don’t have the split platforms.”

A notable moment of the event was Gaur Gopal Das, who offered inspirational learning on the economy, saying “As individuals, as business houses it does not take any time to come from the front and go to the back if we are constantly willing to update our rules to play the game.”

He added that the importance of “strategy, adaptation and change” is essential in having a successful business and economy.

The conclave also featured a special address from Sarosh Zaiwalla, Founder and Senior Partner at Zaiwalla & Co. LLP. Speaking about how India can learn from China’s example in allowing foreign law firms to operate within the country, “An influx of international best practice would improve standards and an up to date legal system would encourage confidence for international businesses to enter the country…. Anyone can practice law in England and Wales provided they attain the required local qualifications…. I understand in US none of the states requires American citizenship as a necessity to practice law. This is the primary reason why the US,UK and China have attracted the world’s best talent (including many from India) to practice in their respective countries.”

Other Panels that took place throughout the day included discussions on Strengthening Sectors of Interest and Cultural Ties to Crack the Potential of the India-UK Relationship and the Role Clean Infrastructure Can Play in a Rapidly Growing India.

Launched in 2015, the Global Business Summit is a flagship initiative of the Times Group, India’s largest Media Conglomerate and owner of newspapers including The Economic Times. Presented by Yes Bank and The Economic Times, The Global Business Summit invites a range of thought leaders, policymakers, academics and entrepreneurs to discuss new ideas and actionable solutions to the macroeconomic challenges that exist around the world today. 

For more information, please visit www.et-indiaukconclave.com

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Lebanon judge orders vaccine for elderly man after lawmakers jump queue

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Lebanon judge orders vaccine for elderly man after lawmakers jump queue 1

By Timour Azhari

BEIRUT (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A judge on Wednesday ordered Lebanon’s health ministry to give a COVID-19 vaccination to an 80-year-old man within 48 hours or be fined, saying the department had violated the principle of equal access by allowing lawmakers to jump the queue.

Joseph al-Hajj took legal action after lawmakers caused widespread public anger in Lebanon last week by getting early vaccinations, arguing that he had priority access to the vaccine according to the country’s vaccination plan.

Judge Carla Chawah said the ministry’s decision to vaccinate lawmakers had violated al-Hajj’s right to health and life because he had priority in the national plan being aged over 75 unlike some of the lawmakers.

The World Bank, which is funding part of Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, threatened to suspend finances after a Thomson Reuters Foundation correspondent reported lawmakers were to be vaccinated at the nation’s parliament last week.

The judge, sitting in the urgent matters court, said in a ruling seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the ministry’s decision posed “an imminent threat to the plaintiff” and were “a clear violation” of his “essential rights”.

She said the ministry wold have pay a fine of Lebanon pounds 10 million ($6,500) a day for every day over the 48 hours.

Lebanon’s caretaker health minister Hamad Hassan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lebanon began its COVID-19 inoculation drive on Feb. 14 and has secured enough vaccines for about half its six million population.

Hassan previously defended his decision to vaccinate lawmakers as a “sovereign decision” and said he had done it out of appreciation for their work.

Hassan’s comments and pushback by other politicians added to anger in Lebanon, where decades of state waste and corruption have triggered a financial meltdown.

Two weeks into an inoculation campaign marred by the row over queue-jumping by lawmakers, officials and human rights groups are concerned that some 500,000 migrants in Lebanon could be left out.

(Reporting by Timour Azhari @timourazhari; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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Hong Kong dropped from Economic Freedom Index as policies ‘controlled from Beijing’

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Hong Kong dropped from Economic Freedom Index as policies 'controlled from Beijing' 2

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong has been excluded from the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom because its economic policies are controlled from Beijing, the Washington-based think tank said, removing Hong Kong from a list it topped for 25 years up to 2019.

The title of the world’s freest economy for 2021 was retained by Singapore for the second year, the Heritage Foundation said, with Hong Kong’s investment freedom hurt by political and social unrest dating back to 2019.

In the 2021 index published on Thursday, the foundation said Hong Kong and Macau, both special administrative regions of China, were no longer included because even though citizens enjoy more economic freedom than the average resident of China, “developments in recent years have demonstrated unambiguously that those policies are ultimately controlled from Beijing”.

Developments in Hong Kong or Macau that are relevant to economic freedom would be considered in the context of China’s evaluation in the index, it added. China slipped to 107 from 103, among the list of 178 countries.

The U.S. suspended Hong Kong’s preferential tariff rates for exports to the country last year in response to China’s imposition of a national security law on the former British colony, saying it undermined the city’s high autonomy.

Critics of the law say it is aimed at crushing dissent, while authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong say it was necessary to restore stability after anti-government and anti-China unrest.

Earlier this week, London-based non-governmental organisation Hong Kong Watch said in a report that “red capital” – money originating from mainland China – had fundamentally shaped Hong Kong’s politics, media and the city’s status as a business hub.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Kenneth Maxwell)

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Health policies a shot in the arm for west European insurers hit by COVID-19

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Health policies a shot in the arm for west European insurers hit by COVID-19 3

By Inti Landauro and Sergio Goncalves

MADRID (Reuters) – When six-year-old Ainara Fuertes was in pain with an ear infection late last year, her parents wanted to take her to an emergency room at their local public hospital in the Madrid suburb of Valdeolmos-Alalpardo.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the hospital was only seeing non-COVID patients two days a week, so they had to make do with a remote consultation.

Ainara has since recovered, but her parents Diana and Javier decided, like hundreds of thousands of people across western Europe, to sign up for private health insurance to complement state coverage.

“The hospital we depend on is overwhelmed with COVID patients and we want to have more options,” said Diana, 40.

In Spain alone, almost 470,000 people signed up to health policies last year, a 47% increase from 2019.

In neighbouring Portugal, Pedro Leitao, 44, has taken out private health insurance for his 84-year-old mother, who suffered internal bleeding last November and was taken to a crammed non-COVID emergency room at a public hospital in Lisbon.

“Public hospitals are overcrowded … and the risk of infection in the emergency room is enormous,” he said. “I’d be irresponsible if I didn’t buy health insurance for my mother.”

Frank Calderon, head of the health division at Spain’s largest insurer Mapfre, whose policy the Fuertes family picked, said most new clients were families with small children.

“People are looking for flexibility and choice,” he said.

In France, where industry-wide data for 2020 are not available yet, the insurer AXA said last week that its revenue from health insurance rose 6%, while overall sales fell 4%.

And in Germany, the number of private health insurance policies rose 1.8% to 36 million last year, helping to boost premium income by 3.8% to 42.6 billion euros.

PANDEMIC PAIN

In fact, health insurance has been one of the few silver linings from the pandemic for Europe’s insurers.

Overall premium income has slumped along with customers’ earnings, while claims related to the pandemic, as well as a huge crop of natural disasters, have soared into the hundreds of billions of euros, with more to come.

In Portugal, total premium income fell 18.7% to 9.9 billion euros in 2020, with life insurance premiums down 50% – but health insurance income rose 8.3% to a record 949 million euros, according to the ASF insurance supervisory authority.

In Spain, health insurance premiums rose 5.1% even as overall premiums fell 8.3%, dragged down by the life, automotive and corporate sectors, the industry group UNESPA said.

“Private hospitals complement the needs of part of the population, especially in times of crisis when demand is putting great pressure on public hospitals,” said Pedro Carvalho, chief executive officer at Tranquilidade, Portugal’s second-largest insurer by premiums and a unit of Italy’s Generali. Even as the pandemic recedes thanks to vaccination, insurers see more health business coming their way, not least because public hospitals will have a huge backlog of treatments and operations that were postponed because of the pandemic.

“There is nothing to suggest that the current growth situation won’t continue, at least in the coming years,” ASF said.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and by Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon and Tom Sims in Frankfurt; editing by Andrei Khalip and Kevin Liffey)

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