High Commissioner's Visit to Birmingham August 4, 2016
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High Commissioner's Visit to Birmingham August 4, 2016


High Commissioner Mr. Navtej Sarna visited Birmingham on August 4, 2016. The West Midlands is today home to the largest concentration of Persons of Indian Origin after London. The total population of Indian community in the area under this consular jurisdiction is about 550,000 persons including about 100,000 persons holding Indian passports.

High Commissioner met with some of the eminent members of the Indian Diaspora from the West Midlands region in a community interaction organized by the Consulate General of India in Birmingham. Councillor Carl Rice, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor(Ms) Julie Webb, Mayor of Sandwell Council, Mr David Jamieson, Police and Crime Commissioner of West Midlands, Dame Asha Khemka, Principal and Chief Executive, West Nottinghamshire College were among the dignitaries who welcomed the High Commissioner at the event.
During his interaction with the Indian community, High Commissioner hailed the fact that in West Midlands, Indians from diverse communities, regions and religions have for decades lived and prospered together in harmony. He lauded the Indian community for doing particularly well not only in the small and medium enterprises sector, but also Indian professionals for playing prominent roles in medicine, IT, biotechnology and banking, among others, in the region. As As we near 70 years of the Indian independence, it is a particularly opportune time to reflect on the challenges confronting its people, while also celebrating its many achievements. He mentioned that the visit of Prime Minister Modi to the UK in November, 2015 laid down a road map for future collaboration between the two countries. High Commissioner also exhorted those present to continue to engage with the Consulate and the High Commission in critical government initiatives like Digital India, Make in India, Smart City Project, Swachh Bharat, etc. and to continue their contribution to India's growth story. He also mentioned the various steps being taken by the Government of India to make the delivery of consular services, in particular the OCI cards issuance, easier and faster. 
Later, High Commissioner delivered an address at a dinner to commemorate the contribution of Indian soldiers during World War I. Among the other eminent speakers at the event were Field Marshall Sir John Chapple, Major General Peter Davies CB, and Colonel Oliver Chamberlain DL. High Commissioner said that this centenary period of the World War I was an occasion to commemorate rather than celebrate the tremendous sacrifice by close to 1.5 million Indian soldiers who fought in all the major theatres of war from the blood-soaked trenches of the Somme and Gallipoli, to the deserts and heat of Africa and the Middle East. More than 60000 of these soldiers died in battle. We needed to go beyond the romanticized narrative and imagery of the Indian soldiers immortalized in photographs, sketches, cartoons, post cards, even oil paintings, and examine the harsh reality through which these soldiers as well as the Indian populace lived during the war. High Commissioner pointed out that this centenary afforded a unique opportunity to make a balanced and sober assessment of the sacrifice of Indian soldiers, their bravery and travails.