Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Professor of Manufacturing and Director of WMG University of Warwick, has spoken today, Thursday 10th December 2009, in the UK’s House of Lords in support of the Commonwealth’s “healing touch” and its support for small businesses. In the Lords debate he said:
“I was only nine years old in 1949 but I remember the controversy in India over the founding of the Commonwealth, a controversy due to the policies of South Africa and what was then “White” Australia.
However Prime Minister Pandit Nehru powerfully backed the new Commonwealth. In a speech to the Lok Sabha, he argued that the founding of a new Commonwealth could offer something unique to the world.
“In this world which is today sick and which has not recovered from so many wounds... it is necessary that we touch upon the world problems, not with passion and prejudice... but in a friendly way and with a touch of healing”
My Lords, Time has proved Nehru right. That “touch of healing” still defines the Commonwealth’s role today. Over the years we’ve seen the need for the commonwealth’s touch in Apartheid South Africa, in the military rule of Nigeria, in the abuses of Zimbabwe and today, in Fiji….. ….In 1991, nine commonwealth nations were under military or one party rule. Today, only suspended Fiji holds that dubious distinction. ”
His speech particularly praised Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamlesh Sharma as “an expert at bringing people with different perspectives together.”
He sought to highlight the less known fact that “alongside supporting democracy, the Commonwealth now offers another healing touch - helping commonwealth citizens secure their own economic future.”
He particularly praised the Commonwealth Youth Credit initiative which helps young people start businesses by offering them small loans and business training saying:
“This scheme has helped thousands of businesses to get off the ground. Let me quote one business starter, a young woman from Ahmedabad –
“I didn't know I could ever do something useful. My family is very proud of me. I have money over every week, after making the repayments. I put some of it back into my laundrette and most of the rest goes to support my children."
It strikes me that some leading bankers would benefit from such a sound business strategy.”
Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya also pointed to the Commonwealth Private Investment Initiative which, only last month, launched the Aureos Africa fund, which aims to invest $400 million in small and medium sized African businesses.
He went on to say:
“Both these programmes are practical steps to improving lives. They highlight two commonwealth values: Faith in the ability of our citizens; and Belief that a helping hand succeeds where a command can fail. By steadily guiding nations towards democracy and helping citizens to prosperity, the Commonwealth shows that diversity, democracy and development go hand in hand. “
Note for Editors:
More information on Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya can be found here : http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/director/
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PR133 PJD 10th December 2009