It was indeed a moment of great pride for the worldwide community Community to know that Lord Karan Bilimoria will be the very first Indian to take over as the President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – an organisation regarded as ‘the voice of British industry’, comprising 1,90,000 members who employ 7 million people. Lord Karan Bilimoria, a crossbench peer who founded the famous Cobra Beer and is also the Chancellor of Birmingham University, was elected the Vice-President of the CBI earlier this year and will take over as President in June 2020, for a tenure of two years.
He will be not just the first Indian, but also the very first ethnic minority person, to hold the post. 57-year-old Lord Bilimoria is a Parsee whose father was Lt. General Faridoon Noshire Bilimoria (popularly known as ‘General Billy’). The Confederation of British Industry is considered so influential that its annual conference in London last Monday was addressed in rapid succession by the leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem parties — Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson — who made their election pitches before Britain’s business leaders.
Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Lord Bilimoria said one of his priorities as President of the Association would be to “turbo charge” the UK-India relationship. “I have always said that if there is a special relationship that the UK has, it is with two countries — one, of course, is the US; the other with India.”
Despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit, the UK remains the key business destination for Indian investors. According to the latest reliable statistics, 842 companies from India created 1,04,783 jobs in the UK with a combined annual revenue of £48bn. India generally ranks among the top five investors.
Referring to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Lord Bilimoria added, “The CII is our sister organisation in India and we have such a close relationship with them to the extent the CII office in the UK is based within our offices!”