Labour Friends of India

Questions With Rajesh And Darren

Questions with the new Chairmen of the Labour Friends of India

Rajesh Agarwal

How did you become co-chair of the Labour Friends of India?

I first came to the UK from India in 2001 and attending a Labour Friends of India event is one of my earliest memories of engaging with a British political party. LFIN was the first parliamentary group set up by any political party in Britain dedicated to strengthening ties with India and to be a voice for over 1.5 million strong British Indian community. I feel privileged that I have the opportunity to Co-Chair the Labour Friends of India with Darren Jones MP and we look forward to building on the work done by previous Chair Barry Gardiner MP.

How would you describe the Labour Party’s relationship with India?

Labour Party’s ties with India are historic and strong – from supporting India’s right to independence in 1940s to challenging present day government’s emigration policy which work against students and highly skilled people from India, and that Britain can benefit from.

How do you plan to inspire support from the Indian community here in the UK?

 Labour Friends of India’s primary aim is to strengthen relationship with India and with Indians the UK. Our focus will be on listening to the community, engaging with them and working with them on the issues that matter to them the most. Part of the work that’s Labour Friends of India will do is to get a deeper understanding of the issues, concerns and challenges faced by the British Indian community. We hope to engage across the community including business leaders, entrepreneurs, community leaders and Indian students. 

Do you see an overlap between your role as London’s Deputy Mayor for Business and Co-Chair of the Labour Friends of India?

I am privileged to be Deputy Mayor of the most diverse city in the world. Over 600,000 Londoners are of Indian origin making huge contribution to the success of London and Britain. India is the second largest investor in London and Indian businesses employ over 50,000 people in London. I am also the Chairman of London & Partners, London’s promotional agency and we recently announced opening of our new office in Bengaluru, in addition to our existing office in Mumbai. In my role as the Deputy Mayor, I also work towards strengthening London’s relationship with India.

What are some of your personal experiences you plan draw upon in this new role?

As a first-generation immigrant from India who moved to Britain with very little, started a business and made a success of it, my story is the story of British Indian community. Through sheer hard work, enterprise and its “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (world is one family) attitude Indian community has contributed to British society in so many ways. I hope through Labour Friends of India we will encourage more young people from the community to participate in politics.

Secondly, India has developed significantly in past couple of decades and is now a major world power but not everyone in the UK is up to speed with it.  At Labour Friends of India, we look forward to improving the understanding of India within our stakeholder group through regular updates, events and trips to India.

Darren Jones

How did you become co-chair of the Labour Friends of India?

Following a recent dinner with the outgoing High Commissioner in Bristol, I was thrilled to be asked to become the new co-chair of Labour Friends of India, alongside my excellent colleague Rajesh Agarwal the Deputy Mayor of London for Business. I look forward to welcoming the new High Commissioner, Ruchi Ghanashyam, to London in the next few weeks, and to leading a Parliamentary delegation to India in early 2019.

How important is the 1.5 million Indian diaspora to Labour?

Labour Friends of India is now going through an exciting revival, with a new brand, new online and offline presence and with networks within and from the Labour movement right across Britain. Our party’s relationship with India and the significant Indian diaspora in Britain has a proud history and, as we prepare to return to Government, we’re keen to make sure that we strengthen our ties for the future.

What are your key priorities in your new role as Co-Chair of Labour Friends of India?

As the Parliamentary chair of Labour Friends of India, I will focus on matters within the British Parliament and in our working relationship with the Indian High Commission. Ensuring that my parliamentary colleagues, and Labour’s frontbench, are up-to-speed with the latest information from India and from Indian communities in Britain.