Updated: July 28, 2010 10:49 IST

Cameron to lay foundation for deeper ties with India

Special Correspondent
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British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron, accompanied by a 100-strong delegation, began his India visit in Bangalore on Tuesday to “lay the foundation stone for a new and deeper relationship with India,” said sources in the British High Commission.

“The current state of bilateral ties is a bit like a long-standing marriage. There has to be excitement and emotion, a new lease of life and energy. The U.K. [under Tony Bair and Gordon Brown] has not had a relationship with India as we should or could,” the sources said.

The new government in London is eyeing India as one among a handful of countries, where its commercial interests will be especially championed and contracts won. In fact, rounding off his visit to the U.S. last week, Mr. Cameron spoke of appointing a civil servant with expertise in business to head the Foreign Office.

The first mega contract Mr. Cameron is hoping to ink – the spadework for which was done by the previous Labour government – will be for 57 Hawk advanced jet trainers that will top an earlier order for 66 similar jets.

At the meeting with his counterpart Manmohan Singh, Mr. Cameron will exchange notes on the regional situation, with Af-Pak and Myanmar topping the list.

“The discussions will revolve on how to get the best outcome. It should be Afghan-led with the international community gradually playing a smaller and smaller role,” said the sources.

With Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe in town, Mr. Cameron will seek convergence of views on ushering a more democratic polity in the country. While the U.K. has a more robust approach in dealing with Myanmar's military generals that includes sanctions and strong words, India, aware of Myanmar's multi-ethnic composition, wants the West to be “realistic” and adopt an incremental route.

Besides desire to enter the Indian education sector, the U.K. is also hoping for breakthroughs in other sectors such as providing equipment to transform India into a low carbon economy. Also, the British cite a more altruistic motive — “we can't allow India to commit the same mistake, which we have committed for 200 years.”

The U.K. is also keen to work more closely with India at the G-20 level to get it “in a position where it can exercise responsibility and influence.” London is less forthcoming on the visa front, with New Delhi having expressed its reservations on the curbing of immigration even as the U.K. seeks investment openings in India.

“The visit is meant to correct the underachievement in Britain's ties with India. A closer relationship will also help India to engage with the European Union, which it finds a difficult entity to deal with,” the sources said.

Mr. Cameron on Thursday will meet President Pratibha Patil, Dr. Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. He will wrap up the day with delegation-level talks with Dr. Singh. It will be followed by signing of agreements.

Hope,Cameron's govt will usher properity for the nation.

from:  Abhishek Kokate
Posted on: Jul 28, 2010 at 12:08 IST

British Prime minister is determined to begin new tie between India and Britain. The transformation of India from just a colonial business interest to world economic super power has attracted many western economies including Britain to start fresh with India. Nevertheless, both countries have shown goodwill gestures to enhance the level of cooperation, trade & business. This is the time, they should work together to address major bilateral and multilateral issues at the different global platforms.

from:  Pratyush Srichandan
Posted on: Jul 28, 2010 at 11:15 IST

I am very critical of UK entering India in the education sector. Unless they get their premier colleges like Oxbridge in India, I do not find it necessary.

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Jul 28, 2010 at 09:43 IST

Let us use this opportunity to cement our relationship in a more pragmatic way for world peace and prosperity.

from:  vyas k susarla
Posted on: Jul 28, 2010 at 06:26 IST

Had not British ruled India,perhaps India would have been broken into pieces like Africa.They laid the foundation for education and defense.
This is the time India must ask for their support for seat in the security council of UN.

from:  ashok
Posted on: Jul 28, 2010 at 03:06 IST

“we can't allow India to commit the same mistake, which we have committed for 200 years.”

Yeah, because exploiting coal for cheap, abundant energy, which improved the quality of life for billions of people in the West, was just a "mistake".

These eco-freaks are so backwards it hurts my brain to listen to them.

from:  Ed
Posted on: Jul 28, 2010 at 02:05 IST
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