West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is currently in India on a trade visit, where he has been having a varied experience. From meeting sports stars to Bollywood stars and working on future trade deals, he’s been doing it all in the whirlwind trip.
His visit will include trips to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad to boost bilateral trade and investment. The UK has been trying to forge a free trade agreement with India and the fifth round of talks concluded in July 2022.
During his visit, Street spoke to the automobile company - Mahindra & Mahindra - about their future plans, including a new factory in the West Midlands to bring motorcycle production back home. This could boost West Midlands’ economy.
The Indian multinational company owns Birmingham Small Arms or BSA motorcycles. Mahindra & Mahindra also holds a majority stake in Peugeot Motorcycles.
The Indian company acquired BSA in 2016 as part of its subsidiary outfit Classic Legends. The Indian company is already investing in the West Midlands as they confirmed last year they would be starting a facility in Coventry.
Mayor Street also visited the Bombay Stock Exchange - Asia’s oldest stock exchange - on November 9 during his Mumbai trip. Mumbai, the capital of the western state of Maharashtra, is also called the financial capital of India. It is also home to one of the biggest film industries in the world - Bollywood.
“Swapped the West Midlands drum for a gong in Mumbai this morning It was an honour to open the Bombay Stock Exchange - Asia’s oldest stock exchange - alongside Cllr Ian Brookfield,” he said in a tweet.
Street’s Bollywood moment was in meeting Shankar Mahadevan, an award-winning singer and composer who will be given an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University.
He also met India’s badminton star P.V.Sindhu - two-time Olympic medallist won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022. Her career-best was ranking of world No. 2 in women’s singles.
During his Hyderabad visit, he signed the second MoU, this time around the Cyber sector with Wolverhampton University and the Cyber Security Centre of Excellence set to work in close partnership.
The trip wasn’t just about work as he was also able to catch some historic sites in the city. He visited the Charminar and paid respects at one of India’s largest mosques, the Makkah Masjid.
“It was intriguing to learn about the history and religious significant of both places,” he said in a tweet.