London, Oct 27 (ANI): President Pratibha Patil, who is on a three-day state visit to UK, has lauded the Indian diaspora's contribution to building the United Kingdom's economy.
Addressing about 400 guests, mostly of Indian-origin, at a reception held in her honour by the Indian High Commissioner to UK, Nalin Surie, at the Hotel Marriot here on Monday, Patil said: We are aware of the role played by the first wave of immigrants from India, many from the Punjab, to the UK. They formed the backbone of the industrial workforce of this country and played stellar a role in rebuilding Britain's war-ravaged economy."
"I am confident that Indians living overseas will join in the endeavour to contribute to India's growth. As members of the Indian diaspora, you know better than others the challenges and opportunities that a resurgent India represents," she added.
The President was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development D Purandeswari and High Commissioner Surie.
"It is not sort of anything coming from her. It is through her visit that people are becoming aware of India. And that will be good for investment not only in India but from Indian companies in this country as well," said Tarsem King, Baron King of West Bromwich.
Patil is the third Indian President to visit Britain after S. Radhakrishnan in 1963 and R. Venktaraman in 1990, and the first since the two countries signed a landmark strategic partnership agreement in 2004, a reason the two governments are attaching a great deal of importance to the visit.
"The message that it sends that we have an inspiring lady like the current President who is also the first female President in India as well. As the first citizen of India to be such a great role model for all of us who are of Indian origin and those who live in Great Britain, it's hugely significant and it really does, I think, and bring quite a sense of pride to everyone who has any links to India," said Kulveer Ranger, Director of Transport Policy, London.
The President said India has maintained six percent growth rate even during times of global financial crisis which makes it one of the major economies of the world.
"Our focus for the future is to expand economic opportunities for all our people and propel the economy towards higher growth rate. We are in the process of undertaking a massive expansion of our infrastructure and to achieve energy security, food security and enhance welfare activities," she added.
The President said education linkages are an important pillar of our relationship, and the two countries have identified it as a priority area for co-operation.
She also applauded the contribution made by doctors and teachers from India to the public services in the UK, especially the National Health Service.
"When we hear the Prime Minister of Great Britain, His Excellency Gordon Brown, mention the excellent treatment he personally received from by an Indian-origin doctor in the NHS, we feel proud of all of you," she said.
Indian-origin scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the winner of Nobel Prize- 2009, also attended the gala reception.
Congratulating Ramakrishnan, she said people of Indian origin have made "significant contributions" in the development of educational institutes in the United Kingdom.Most recently, we were delighted at the news of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry being conferred on Dr Venkataraman Ramakrishnan, an Indian-origin scientist currently working at the University of Cambridge," she added.
Who's who of London, Members of the 'Friends of India' groups, eminent academicians, social scientists, writers, and those associated with charities attended the reception.
Queen Elizabeth II Queen will throw a banquet in Patil's honour n Tuesday. By Ravi Khandelwal (ANI)