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Britain to renew ties
- Envoy eager to invest in education, health and social units

Siliguri, Aug. 31: Archibald Campbell came to Darjeeling in the early 19th century and changed the economy of the area.

Campbell opened a tea nursery at Beachwood in Darjeeling, which later wooed British investors to north Bengal who opened hundreds of estates in the Terai, Dooars and the hills.

Next came the Tiny loco. Whistling along the hairpin bends, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, an initiative of British engineers, started its journey in 1881.

Reminiscing the connections between the British and north Bengal, speakers at an interactive session on Investment Opportunities of UK in North Bengal, held here today, urged Michael Arthur, the British High Commissioner in India, to take steps for fresh investment by UK-based entrepreneurs in the region. It was jointly organised by Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“We want the British investors to consider north Bengal as a prospective destination in agro-based industries, tourism and IT services,” said Kamal Mittal, chairman, north Bengal zonal council, CII.

Municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya also asked Arthur to provide assistance to tribal women and children. “The socio-economic condition of women and children in tribal areas, especially in the tea belt, needs to be taken care of,” Bhattacharya said. “If the British government comes forward, it will be a great help for these people.”

Appreciating the CII and SJDA initiative, Arthur said: “We intend to rejuvenate the century-old bond between the UK and Bengal, which has become one of the four key states in the country, thanks to the chief minister and his team. We are here to gauge the potential of the region. North Bengal definitely has the potential to grow as a centre for excellence in food processing, floriculture and tourism.”

To stress on the Indo-British link, he mentioned certain points, which are:

• Britain ranks first in the number of tourists to India

• Britain is the second largest foreign country from where investment has come into India

• India is the third largest nation as an investor in Britain

Though the Britons are still the top client for Darjeeling tea in the world, Arthur made it clear that they are not keen on entering the industry.

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