From the Copenhagen talks on climate change to the Afghan intervention and the moral dilemma in using drones to drive out the Taliban, British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg fielded questions on a range of topics on Tuesday.

And the students of the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) who participated in the informal interaction on the college premises obtained a first-hand experience of seasoned diplomatic talk as he presented the complexities in the different cases.

Copenhagen talks

Stating his disappointment with the outcome of the Copenhagen talks, Mr. Stagg said the United Kingdom and other countries that were ambitious about getting clearer outcomes had not been able to make themselves heard at the conference.

A consensus should be evolved taking in mind the larger global picture, he said. He suggested that bringing “15,000 people to a city” to discuss the issue might not work.

India had to look at an alternative model of growth to avoid problems the developed world was facing due to industrialisation. The problem of unemployment could be solved only by developing the manufacturing sector and this had to be done in such a way as to minimise risks of climate change.

Afghan issue

On the Afghan question, Mr. Stagg said the collateral damage caused by the efforts against the Taliban presented a moral dilemma as there was always the danger the Taliban might destroy a whole village if left free. The long-term solution to the problem would be to make civil society and the civilian administration and governance systems stronger.

Earlier, initiating the interaction, Mr. Stagg said the media was a key protector of freedoms and could be an engine of social change by bringing little known issues into the public consciousness.

‘Paid news’

At the same time, it was important to understand current issues including the phenomenon of “paid news” and the recognition of boundaries separating the rights to privacy of individuals and the rights of the public to know.

India and the United Kingdom had a shared cultural history and the media had been a key link between the two countries, he said. He called for greater ties in education and suggested more British students use the excellent facilities available in India.

The agreement signed between ACJ and the Cardiff University to provide students an opportunity to get M.A. degrees by completing a few more credit requirements after finishing their ACJ diploma course was a step in the right direction, he said.

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