This evening, I was one of the guests at a Friends of India event at the Oshwal Centre along with Council Leader Mike Fisher, Deputy Leader Tim Pollard and Cabinet Member for Cohesion Vidhi Mohan (if you are wondering why so many people turned up to hear four politicians, the food afterwards was outstanding).
There were two main points I made in my speech. First, when people talk about the diverse mix of people who live in the UK today they often remark how tolerant the country is. It has always struck me that in this regard tolerance is not what we should aspire to - we shouldn't tolerate the fact that people from India and elsewhere have come to this country, established new businesses, contributed to our public services and enriched our culture, we should celebrate it.
Second, as India takes its rightful place as one of the economic powerhouses of the world, our bilateral relationship is going to become ever more important to this country, as William Hague has identified. The British Indian community are in a great position to play a key role in strengthening this relationship.
I met people from a huge range of voluntary organisations after the speeches were over and hope I will have the chance to visit many of these organisations over the months ahead. My sincere thanks to those who organised the evening.