London, April 30: If Bollywood, tandoori restaurants and Shilpa Shetty aren’t enough to make London feel like home, the NRI executive can now try another option.
He can think of a job switch to an Indian company.
Figures released today show that India has emerged the second-biggest foreign investor in London.
Think London, an organisation set up to encourage investment into the British capital, has a record of 274 Indian companies it has “helped”. In the past 12 months, 15 new companies were persuaded and established offices in London.
London today has such a desi flavour that it is now effectively the capital of “Greater India”.
After work, an Indian executive can attend an Indian party, eat Indian food of his choice and take in a Bollywood movie in the evening where, more likely than not, the star will be present.
If he is so inclined, he can switch on Zee or STAR (Doordarshan has now come as well). He can feel miserable after watching India play cricket in any corner of the world. And, of course, he can remain in close touch with relatives and friends back home via his global roaming mobile phone.
Now, even the workplace is taking on Indian colours. Think London says India accounted for 16 per cent of all new investment into London between 2003 and 2007.
This is second only to America’s 31 per cent and a long way ahead of France (7 per cent), China (6 per cent) and Japan (6 per cent), who are in the third, fourth and fifth places.
Indian foreign direct investment (FDI) projects have already reached a record for job creation in the financial year 2006-07. In the first 10 months, Indian FDI generated 494 jobs. Since 2003, Indian companies that Think London helped set up have generated almost 1,500 jobs.
Sunil Dwivedi, whose job title at Think London is “Head of India”, said half the Indian companies were in ICT (infotech, communications and telecommunications). Among the rest, life sciences account for 10 per cent, financial services 10 per cent, retail 8 per cent and textiles 3 per cent.
“I talk to Indian companies about the advantages of coming to London,” he said. “With China, the country encourages mainly inward FDI. I don’t expect its FDI into London to catch up with India’s.”
FDI into London jumped to £52 billion last year from £38 billion two years ago, the Think London report says.
Some UK politicians might want to keep immigrants out but the report suggests that the British economy would be in serious trouble without foreign companies and their workers.
Foreign-owned firms created 42 per cent of London’s economic growth between 1998 and 2004, according to the report. And workers at foreign-owned companies were more than twice as productive as employees of other firms.
Today, more than half a million people work in foreign-owned firms in London. This amounts to 13 per cent of all jobs in the capital.