Priti Patel visits India on ‘smart cities mission’

Priti Patel and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi
Priti Patel and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi

International development secretary Priti Patel offered support and expertise from the UK government to Madhya Pradesh, primarily for the proposed smart cities.

The “smart cities mission”, launched by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi last year, will set out to transform urban regions to highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustain able real estate and communications.

Information technology will be integral in a city’s infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. A number of technological platforms will be involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.

Patel made the offer during a three-day trip to India last week when she met with the chief minis ter of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. She agreed a partnership with the region on smart cit ies and said the UK will be a partner country for the Madhya Pradesh Global Investor Summit this year.

“I am here meeting my ministerial counterparts to make sure that the UK’s skills and expertise in areas like finance, job creation and infrastructure are used to support prime minister Modi’s ambitious plans for the economic development of India’s great and burgeoning cities,” said Patel.

In one of her first visits to India in her new cabinet role, Patel had discussions with Modi and Indian ministerial counterparts on UK support on substantial long-term projects. This included support for India’s urban development and job creation opportunities for the poorest.

“We will help India to make its urbanisation work and make cities real engines of growth by boosting business and creating employment – not least by ensuring British businesses are aware of the opportunities that exist for them by getting involved in this ambitious work.

“It’s by working together on long-term projects like this and involving the private sector that we will take our strong partnership to the next level to deliver prosperity, investment opportunities and growth for both India and the UK,” said Patel.

Patel, who under the previous prime minister David Cameron was appointed as the first ever UK Indian diaspora champion, paid homage to the UK and India’s special relationship on India’s Independence Day (15).

“On Independence Day, I want to celebrate the achievements of the Indian diaspora community in the UK who are at the cornerstone of helping the Britain and India partnership to flourish.

“For me, it’s the ties between our people, the invisible glue that bind us together, that makes this relationship so special. And that’s why I will continue to champion the UK’s Indian diaspora and the UK’s relationship with India,” said Patel.

India’s minister of finance Arun Jaitley and Patel highlighted ways in which the two governments can strengthen links between key economic institutions and centre’s of excellence.

The international development secretary also took time to visit the Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, where she was welcomed with a garland of flowers, a chandlo (vermillion powder) and the tying of the sacred kalva by trustees and senior volunteers on behalf of Swaminarayan Akshardham and BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

After admiring the Mayur Dwar (Peacock Gate), the delegation made their way to the Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir where they witnessed the world’s largest Hindu temple.

Patel offered her respects after viewing the Mandir’s architecture, before visiting the Gajendra Pithika (Elephant Plinth) that includes 148 life-sized carved stone elephants depicting message of social harmony, peace and spirituality.

She added: “A faithful visit and a most humbling experience. A very special Mandir filled with devotion and commitment for all volunteers.”