U.K. mounts campaign to improve image in former colony

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NEW DELHI -- The United Kingdom announced it will spend $1.6m to improve its profile in India, an ironic gesture from the country that colonized the subcontinent for nearly two centuries.

But the spend will be channeled towards highlighting the U.K. as a partner in the growth of India's high-tech industries, as distinct from the current image of long-time trade partner.

First off the block is the Indo-British Partnership Initiative, an alliance of the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry, one of India's top three corporate unions.

The offspring of this joint effort will be Towards 2000, a large, two-day exhibition involving around 130 British and Indo-British joint ventures. A movie festival, a fashion show and a book fair will showcase other aspects of British culture.

The new effort to raise the U.K. profile coincides with the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, who will tour parts of India and Pakistan on their half-century of independence from British colonial rule.

"A number of announcements regarding the signing of joint venture agreements between Indian and British companies will be made on October 14, the first day of the show," says David Gore-Booth, the British high commissioner to India. "We expect the event to generate good business, enough to take Indo-British trade from the current levels of $5.3bn to $8bn pounds by the year 2000."

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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