Enjoyed moderating this conversation:
Enjoyed moderating this conversation:
Last time DC went to India, I commented on the BBC that he may as well concede that we were the junior partner in that relationship as well, just as he had referred to relations with our American cousins who he had visited immediately prior to India.
This time things are a little different. Let me explain.
Last time DC visited it was in the immediate wake of forming the coalition. This time, I would suggest that this visit is focused on creating opportunities that are specific to the UK electoral calendar – electioneering has started!
The same can also be said of India and her politics. With Narendra Modi’s success at the polls, the only real discussion taking place is whether he will be the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Electioneering in India has also begun as polls are due in 2014.
Such a cycle can play a major role in how these visits are organised. What do you think the major goals of this visit should be? How should DC’s success be measured? Volume of commercial deals done, parity provided to the Opposition, agreements on counter security… ? Interested in your opinions. Leave a comment
If you’re interested in trends, then take a look at the attached – quite spectacular…
Richard Watson, who’s a futurologist created this, and he claims that those on the outer fray of this tube style map is already taking place.
Incredible stuff. Enjoy.
There’s been three blasts in Mumbai, with about 10 people dead. One of the bombs was planted in a meter box. The fact that there’s been a series of blasts, naturally shows this is a planned activity. How much more can Mumbai handle?
Interestingly, David Cameron’s visiting Pakistan to re-set relations with them. There was a time when political leaders would say one thing to India and an altogether different story to the Pakistani establishment, which, thankfully, has become increasingly difficult to do as a result of the birth of organisations like Wikileaks, and with the growth in citizen journalism.
If Cameron wants to start afresh with Pakistan, he may be advised that in addition to talking about security, terrorism, aid, and trade, he ought to offer our help in capacity building initiatives that strengthen their civic institutions – much like a certain other former British Prime Minister is doing in Palestine.
Most Pakistani people, at least the ones I know, are no different to you & me, who I suspect constitute the majority. We should invest wisely in giving them a voice. By doing so, you stand to expose the duplicity of the leadership provided by various quarters in a country that is incredibly important and central to our safety & prosperity back in the UK.
Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistani cricketer turned politician – Imran Khan – captured my attention today, maybe, for the first time. Perhaps, it was to do with where I was stood whilst reading my Twitter timeline, which included her musings. Let me explain. Her tweets read:
“Helping my boy with his GCSE choices- Sciences (Biology, physics, chemistry) are obligatory. History and geography are not.”
“Ofsted found that England is the only country in Europe where children can stop studying history at the age of 13. #harrumph”
“Last year more than 100 state schools did not enter a single candidate for GCSE history.”
I was reading this whilst stood in the spring sun at the top of Constitution Hill, near Buckingham Palace, where the Commonwealth Memorial Gates were erected nine years ago to pay tribute to the sacrifices of volunteer soldiers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and other Commonwealth countries.
Having lived in London for many years, I had walked and driven past these Memorial Gates many times, but never once had I stopped to take a closer look. Baroness Flather, who worked tirelessly in making sure this memorial was erected explained:
“It took over fifty years after World War Two ended to build a lasting memorial to honour the five million men and women from the Commonwealth nations who volunteered as part of the British Empire in both world wars.
As someone who’s clear about his identity being British, a sense of sadness swept across my face when I heard the Gurkha bugler play the Last Post whilst reading Jemima Khan’s tweets on the uptake of the History GCSE.
I’d like my kids to learn, along with the oft-narrated stories about the Great Wars to learn about the sacrifices made by my ancestors, without which we may not be enjoying the lives we lead today, which leads to the larger point that if children don’t understand any history, how can they comprehend the world?
Please make a point of visiting the Memorial Gates on your next visit to London. You can find out more here: http://www.mgtrust.org/
In the past year, you’ve seen the who’s who of global politics make a bee line to New Delhi. Despite scams, corruption, failure of governance, and all such less desirable faces to India, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Nicholas Sarkozy, Wen Jiabao, and now President Medvedev seem keen to cosy up to a country, which when spoken of is often referred to as a slow elephant in comparison to the Dragon that’s come to symbolise China.
With the global economy facing severe challenges, its understandable that they seek to forge stronger partnerships with a nation that’s averaging GDP growth of 8.5% and with an increasingly young & affluent population. But is this the only reason?
The movement towards India is also, if not more so, about geo-politics. It’s about regional balance.
It was said that Cameron’s love for India is really about countering the emphasis the Blair gave to developing relations with China. America similarly after decades of a cool relationship with India warmed up by paving the way for the game-changing civil nuclear agreement, and the French have always been good friends with India, just as the Russians have.
In fact, it comes as no surprise that Medvedev is in India. There are some parallels and reasons to work together. Both have a massive need for infrastructure, which friends suggest, India is more likely to get done because it’s more open to foreign expertise and has lots of cheap labour. The significant differences are that India’s democracy is more developed and Russia has a serious demographic problem. It has some natural resources that India needs, but I’d say that Russia is definitely in a weaker economic position long term. That’s why Medvedev needs to work with India.
On a strategic plane, the India- Russia relationship goes back decades, for it was the Russians who were early to recognise India’s potential, both on the economic, and also on the geopolitical matrix as a counter to China, decades ago. Medvedev will be pushing an open door when in New Delhi.
You don’t need to be a genius to work out that India & China are key to the prosperity of nations like ours, but what’s critical is that the dance between the slow elephant and the fierce dragon doesn’t lead to an all out x-factor type contest where instead of houses being divided as to who’s the more meritorious, countries have to decide who to back for the big time. That’s why, in my opinion, Premier Wen’s sojourn to India was probably the most important visit of the lot.
It matters that China and India work towards resolution on key issues. It matters to the prosperity of future generations, in Russia, and the world over.
Wow. What a visit this is working out to be for Obama. Fresh from his defeat in the mid-term polls, Obama arrived in India on his first visit and on day one announced 20 business deals worth over $10bn, which will create approx 53,000 new jobs in the US.
Contrast that with David Cameron’s first visit a couple of months ago. Anyone remember that?
My Tory friends criticised me for saying openly on the BBC that Cameron ought to follow through from his visit to the US, where he declared that Britain was the junior partner in the special relationship. In India, he might as well continue taking that line when he was going to be there a few weeks later.
As far as I am concerned, when a quarter of the world’s workforce is going to reside in India in the next 15 years, or when a country can claim to have more middle class consumers that the entire population of the US, it’s time has come. The fact that India & China will reclaim their place in global commerce is not a secret. It’s something that we need to get a grip with. In this respect, they’re going to dictate the terms, be the senior partners of any relationship.
Whilst my original point wasn’t meant to be political, I ask those who felt I was speaking an untruth or heaping shame on Cameron to reflect on the substance of Obama’s visit and then really tell me that our Prime Minister & Britain isn’t the junior partner.
Leave a comment on my blog. Let’s have an open discussion.
This piece has featured on Reuters: http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate-uk/2010/07/26/bhopal-and-lockerbie-on-the-agenda-for-cameron-and-singh/
With his admission last week that Britain plays second fiddle to America, David Cameron has an opportunity to get one over Barack Obama during his much trumpeted first Prime Ministerial visit to India.
That Britain is keen to forge a more strategic relationship with India is not in question. Who wouldn’t? The India of even ten years ago is a much different place to one that I see every time I visit. Whether we’re talking of the new Delhi airport, the Worli flyover in Mumbai, or the ever increasing number of middle class consumers armed with cash, there’s no doubt that India’s on the rise.
Facts and statistics aside, India’s influence needn’t be solely defined by economics. In real, I believe the biggest influence she can have rests in the realm of global politics.
Under Tony Blair, the British Government lead the charge to bring India to the top table. As cheerleader, Blair did the unthinkable; he changed the way India was talked about by stating his support for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council for India. Immediately, you saw India being invited to G8 meetings, where the world’s richest nations got together to decide the future course of global events. Like a new student in an old school, India observed attentively and said little.
However, as time has progressed; and as events have benefited India, Manmohan Singh is no longer the new student. He has an edge over Obama and Cameron. His experience in dealing with global finance and economics is proving to be a major strength for India. Not only is India at the top table, but it’s bringing its experience to bear by offering solutions to global problems, like it has with the debate around the imposition of a global bank levy.
But, what I believe is that Manmohan Singh has a lot to gain from this visit. Whilst it cannot openly speak of American double standards, it can certainly use this visit to flesh out some arguments that Cameron may wish to take the lead on.
With the media debate and focus on the release of the Lockerbie bomber during Cameron’s first official visit to the U.S., Singh would do well to point out the double standards being applied. He could rightly claim that Pakistan ought to have the same treatment as Libya, after all there’s compelling evidence that both states were complicit in terrorist outrages in Lockerbie and Mumbai. Do Indian lives matter less to America?
In a similar manner, Cameron ought to take the opportunity to raise the burning issue of Bhopal, especially in the light of the U.S. attitude on BP. The EU, in the past two weeks, has offered to fund a complete survey to assess what needs to be done to make the site safe, which Singh seems reluctant to take up. By making the offer during their forthcoming talks, Cameron would neatly be making the point that America cannot be allowed to berate a UK multinational without dealing with Dow Chemicals over Bhopal.
Whilst everyone speaks of the burgeoning trade and investment relationship, the real champion of the enhanced relationship in this coalition government, surprisingly, isn’t the British Business Secretary but the new Foreign Secretary William Hague, who understands that India’s potential lies in her engagement on multilateral political issues.
I’m sure India will receive Cameron in the only way it knows, with warmth, friendship, and mutual admiration, but he needs to keep in mind that he’s going to be judged on substance, and not style – something he’s often criticised of favouring. This visit offers a defining opportunity, the type that comes along once in a while. Let’s hope David Cameron seizes the moment.
The following is an article that’s been carried by Reuters, written by me (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate-uk/2010/07/26/britain-must-adjust-to-new-relationship-with-india/)
Last week, on his first Prime Ministerial visit to the United States, David Cameron conceded that Britain was the “junior partner” in the special relationship. Next week, I fear that at the end of the much anticipated visit to India, he may yet again, have to concede that Britain is the junior partner in this ever increasing important relationship.
I attended an event some years ago in which the then Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) — Digby Jones — evangelised the need for UK Plc to embrace India, not for nostalgic or historic reasons, but to secure their survival. He explained “in the fullness of time, the past 250 years will be seen as a mere blip, an anomaly, in which India was subjugated. The future belongs to a resurgent India”.
It’s difficult to argue otherwise, just take a look at some of the statistics that stand out:
• Almost 25 percent of the world workforce will reside in India within the next 15 years. The average age of its citizens will be a youthful 29 in 2020, whereas in Western Europe the average stands at 45. India’s demographic profile provides a huge opportunity for her in the next century.
• India has a middle class larger than the entire population of the US — some 300 million residents, armed with a disposable income and looking for new avenues to spend their cash. The spectacular thing is that India’s middle class isn’t confined to its big cities or metros as they refer to them, but to far flung corners of the country in what are second and third tier cities, representing new markets — the Holy Grail as far as some of the world’s biggest fast moving consumer goods companies are concerned.
• Just today, I read a tweet from someone I follow on Twitter about how the Indian Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council has forecast GDP growth at 8.5 percent this year and nine percent next year. Now, compare that with all the talk of Britain having avoided a double dip recession as a result of the growth in our economy at a measly 1.1 percent.
That David Cameron understands the need to forge a stronger relationship with India is not in question. He’s made all the right noises, starting with a pro–India election manifesto culminating in the Queen highlighting her government’s desire to cosy up to the sub-continent in her first speech in the coalition era. He’s packed this visit with an unprecedented number of Cabinet Ministers signalling his intent on developing a wide-ranging cross departmental affair with India.
But the true question on the minds of crystal ball watchers, like me, is to work out whether this visit will fundamentally change the way we work with India or whether it’s just about style, something Cameron’s been accused of frequently.
In either case, in true Indian fashion, Cameron will be welcomed with open arms; and his eagerness to strengthen the bilateral relationship will be warmly reciprocated. Howeve securing the future prosperity of British jobs and industry will be on India’s terms, as the senior partner, unlike those set by the East India company some 250 years ago.