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'We can feel India's power back in UK'

David Cameron 

So, why is your country important for Britain’s future? The most obvious reason is economic. There is still a development road to travel but, thanks to the reform process begun by Manmohan Singh in the 1990s, the Indian tiger has been uncaged and its power can be felt around the world.

You feel it in the fantastic new airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad, in Mumbai’s Bandra-Worli Sea Link, in the Delhi metro and in Delhi’s stunning new airport terminal. And we can feel that power back home, too.

The Tata Group is now the largest manufacturing employer in Britain. And more than 180 Indian companies have invested in our IT sector. At the same time, India represents an enormous opportunity for British companies. Already, our trade relationship is worth £11.5 billion a year. But I want us to go further.

India plans to invest over $500 billion in infrastructure in the coming years. That is, of course, good for Indian business, but it is also a chance for British companies to generate growth. Your retail market is growing by 25 per cent annually, and there is no reason why British companies should not be a part of that, too. India is adding 15 million new mobile phone users every month. British companies can play an even greater role in that, providing services to the Indian consumer and creating jobs in India and back in the UK.

This is a trade mission, yes, but I prefer to see it as my jobs mission. Indian companies employ 90,000 people in the UK. Many more jobs in Britain exist thanks to the activities of British companies in India. Now, I want to see thousands more jobs created in Britain and, of course, in India through trade in the months and years ahead.

That is the core purpose of my visit. At the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, they said: "Go West, Young Man" to find opportunity and fortune. For today’s investors and entrepreneurs, they should go east.

But this country matters to Britain for many reasons beyond your economy too. With over 700 million voters and three million elected representatives at council level, your democracy is a beacon to our world. You have a wonderful tradition of democratic secularism. Home to dozens of faiths and hundreds of languages, people are free to be Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, or speak Marathi, Punjabi or Tamil. But, at the same time, and without any contradiction, they are all Indian too.

And India matters to the world because it’s not only a rising power, it’s a responsible global power. You provide significant support to Afghanistan, which we welcome, and your efforts in Nepal and Bhutan are vital. You are a leading provider of peacekeeping troops to the UN. And, as I saw for myself at the G20, your Prime Minister has personally provided great intellectual leadership in economic matters.

That’s why the time has come for India to take the seat it deserves in the UN Security Council.

But why should Britain matter to India? I believe our two countries are natural partners. We have deep and close connections among our people, with nearly two million people of Indian origin living in the UK. They make an enormous contribution to our country, way out of proportion to their size, in business, the arts and sport.

India and Britain also share so much culturally whether it’s watching Shah Rukh Khan, eating the same food, speaking the same language and of course, watching the same sport. Many of you in this room would have grown up revering Kapil Dev. I did the same with Ian Botham. And Sachin Tendulkar, the Little Master, is so talented that wherever you’re from, you can’t help but admire him as he hits another century. Indeed, culture is so important to our relationship that it’s going to be a significant part of what I talk to Prime Minister Singh about.

But this isn’t just about Britain and India. This is a relationship that can benefit the world.

(Excerpts from British Prime Minister David Cameron’s address to Infosys staff at Bangalore on July 28)

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First Published: Sun, August 01 2010. 01:01 IST
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