British Prime Minister Theresa May, who arrived here from New Delhi for a day-long visit, met Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who during their talks raised the issue of rising cost of British visas.
“The two met at a star hotel near the international airport at Devanhalli and discussed bilateral issues,” said an official here.
Among the issues the Chief Minister raised with May were the rising cost of British visas to Indian IT professionals and visa curbs on Indian students going for higher studies in Britain.
“Siddaramaiah also briefed May about the state’s proactive policies for foreign direct investment in diverse sectors from British investors and the British industry.
“Karnataka is an attractive destination for investments in aerospace, biotech, IT, financial services, pharma and research and development,” said state Industries Minister R.V. Deshpande on the occasion.
Admitting that the British government’s recent decision to hike visa fee and tighten its rules for techies and business executives had caused disquiet to Indian firms and investors, Deshpande said the state government was as much concerned about their prospects as much as Britain is on passport rights for the financial services industry after Brexit.
“We are concerned about the difficulties in cross-border work. Restrictions prevent bright talent from working globally and inhibit competitiveness of the British industry,” asserted Deshpande.
The Chief Minister also prevailed upon May to grant time-bound visas for Indian software engineers to work on projects in Britain and return.
“Our IT professionals or software engineers are not looking for immigration visas but for projects, which are global operationally,” added Deshpande.
May also visited the state-run Stonehill primary school at Papanahalli on the city’s northern outskirts and interacted with its girls and boys.
After visiting Dynamatic Technologies Ltd at the Peenya industrial state in the northwest suburb and inspecting its aerospace facility in the afternoon, May will drive into the city for two-three other engagements, including a visit to an ancient Someshwara temple in the eastern suburb for the blessing of Hindu deity Shiva.
The 15th century temple is one the oldest in the southern state, dating back to the Chola period.
Elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure the safety and security of the visiting dignitary and her accompanying official delegation.
May is on a three-day maiden official visit to India since Sunday and the first country outside the European Union after she assumed office in July this year.
On way back to the airport, May will hold an hour-long interactive session with chief executives of India Inc at a start hotel in the city.
A delegation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) will call on her at the venue.
May is the fourth British Premier to visit Bengaluru after her (Conservative) Party’s then leader John Major on January 9, 1997, Labour Party’s leader Tony Blair on January 4, 2002 and David Cameron on July 28, 2010.
“Vehicular traffic has been restricted and regulated on the routes May’s motorcade will take to the venues where her engagements are scheduled and to avoid grid lock on the main roads,” said a police official.