In India, British Leader to Focus on Business Ties

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by SHASH2K2, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

    May 10, 2010
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    Bihar, BanGalore , India
    NEW DELHI — British Prime Minister David Cameron has quickly earned a reputation as a relentless cost-cutter. So maybe it should not be surprising that his next official visit is to India, where phone calls can cost less than a penny a minute, and prices of new cars begin at under $3,000.

    Mr. Cameron lands in India on Tuesday with dozens of his country’s chief executives and several top trade officials, part of what a British official here calls Mr. Cameron’s “personal, long-term commitment” to aggressively increase business ties between Britain and India.

    The British foreign secretary, William Hague, the chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, and Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, are among the officials accompanying Mr. Cameron. They will meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other politicians here. But Mr. Cameron and his delegation seem to have scheduled at least as much time to interact with Indian business executives.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Cameron is scheduled to address a crowd of hundreds at the Bangalore headquarters of Infosys, the information technology giant that helped make India the world’s outsourcing center.

    British officials will also tour Narayana Hrudayalaya Health City in Bangalore, a collection of hospitals spread over a 25-acre campus that is renowned for its high volume of low-cost operations. Another tour stop is an aeronautics company that has signed contracts with the big British military and aerospace company BAE Systems.

    Mr. Osborne’s schedule includes ringing the opening bell on the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai, introducing a new solar-powered mobile handset from the British telecommunications company Vodafone and delivering a speech titled “U.K. and India: A New Economic Partnership” to a crowd of bankers and businessmen.

    On Thursday, when the delegation plans to be in Delhi for state visits, round-table discussions and news conferences, the emphasis will again be on trade, British and Indian officials say.

    Mr. Cameron’s arrival here with a full and fiscally focused entourage is the latest sign of the global economy’s tilt toward developing nations. India’s economy is expanding rapidly, propelled by a youthful population, and the government is expected to spend tens of billions of dollars in coming years on infrastructure projects like roads and power grids.

    British companies from the department store Marks & Spencer to the high-end carmaker Bentley Motors have started investing here in recent years to tap into new wealth.

    India is an “incredibly dynamic market that will grow substantially in the next five to 10 years,” said Stephen Phipson, president of Smiths Detection, a British maker of security screening equipment, who is among the executives accompanying Mr. Cameron.

    Smiths will supply X-ray and other screening equipment for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi this October, and recently won a contract to screen baggage and passengers at most Indian airports. Mr. Phipson expects his company’s business in India to double over the next five years to $100 million in revenue, as India adds more border protection and port security equipment.

    In contrast to Indian growth, Britain’s economy contracted for most of last year, and Mr. Cameron’s government has pledged to halve the annual budget deficit of $235 billion within five years. Most recently, the British government said it would decentralize health care, in a radical reshaping of the National Health Service that is expected to result in a significant number of job losses.

    When it comes to cost-cutting, Indian businessmen say they think they may be able to help.

    “We have conclusively shown that technology is the only way that you can drive efficiencies,” said Som Mittal, the president of Nasscom, a trade group for Indian information technology companies. “Given where Britain is right now and what the prime minister wants to achieve in terms of reducing the deficit,” Mr. Mittal said, Indian companies may be able to play an increasing role.

    Mr. Cameron’s new push to increase trade between the countries is the latest stage in a complicated relationship tracing to the colonial era predating India’s independence in 1947. Indian companies, fueled by domestic growth, have made takeover targets of their British counterparts in recent years in a buying spree that the news media here sometimes calls “The Empire Strikes Back.”

    Already, the Tata Group of India, which controls British companies including Jaguar and Corus Steel, is the largest employer in Britain’s manufacturing sector. Last year, the East India Company, the trading company started in 1600 by Elizabeth I that helped to create and define the British colonial empire, was resurrected by an Indian entrepreneur.
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    India eyes an American special relationship

    By Pratap Bhanu Mehta
    Published: July 26 2010 20:28 | Last updated: July 26 2010 20:28
    David Cameron’s visit to India this week seeks to restart a once-strong alliance. Historical and cultural ties remain, but for the past decade the sense in Delhi has been that this is a relationship in decline. Britain’s share in India’s trade and investment has fallen. David Miliband’s clumsy comments on Kashmir angered many by implying Indian responsibility for the mess in Afghanistan{The anger, well justified, was about more than just that. It was about the freakin' chootzpah of a 2-bit nautankibaz lecturing India to compromise on J&K standing close to the site of the 26/11 massacre even before the blood spilled in 26/11 had dried}. As the US has become the country to emulate, Britain has become marginal to Indian political consciousness.
    The Indian government will be too polite to say it, but there is a lot of (perhaps premature) condescension in India towards Britain’s shrinking role in the world. Where once Britain educated India’s ruling classes, now most head to the US. The economist Amartya Sen’s move from Harvard to become Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was described in India as a move from a powerhouse to a museum. In subtle ways Indians are constantly comparing the ability of the US to cut imaginative deals that benefit India directly with that of other nations. And on the quiet, the dynamism of their new relationship with the Americans has inspired hope in many Indians that they may come to replace the United Kingdom as the US’s special ally among the world’s democracies.

    Mr Cameron’s extensive delegation hopes to reverse this trend, and he has some reason for optimism. Both countries naturally want to deepen their economic relationship. India will continue to grow in excess of 9 per cent, while both its burgeoning middle class and an unprecedented level of new investment in military hardware will make India a vital export market for Britain. Indian outbound investment, meanwhile, is still looking to tap into Britain’s research and design capabilities.

    But Cameron’s visit comes at a time when both nations are trying to redefine their position in the world order. India has a sense of itself as a rising power. Britain is undergoing a moment of introspection, in the wake of its fiscal crisis. Underneath lie two differing conceptions of globalisation that make an Anglo-Indian partnership less likely.

    Britain wants an open global economy to allow it to export the services in which it is most competitive. But, as in the past, India will open up its economy at its own speed, and largely on its own terms. There is little appetite in Delhi to open its finance, banking, insurance or retail sectors further, all areas in which British exports could prosper. Cameron’s hope for a boost for British businesses from the trip in these areas is therefore unlikely to yield dividends. India, on the other hand, wants globalisation to mean freer movement for its people, and foreign markets for its own services. Here Mr Cameron’s plans for an immigration cap in the UK, in particular, are viewed with dismay.

    To be fair, Mr Cameron’s government has acknowledged shifts in the global balance of power, for instance supporting India’s bid for a UN Security Council seat. But many in India view Britain’s continuing presence at the head of so many global governance institutions as a perpetuation of an old world order, created at Yalta in 1945. Worse, strategically Britain has little to contribute to India’s principal security objectives: the stabilisation of Af-Pak, and the management of growing Chinese power. On other issues central to India’s security, like energy or building new coalitions at the global level, it is now more likely to turn to Brazil, South Africa or Russia.

    India and Britain do have a common interest in fighting terrorism, and this trip will likely bring a greater commitment to security cooperation. But India is watching developments in Afghanistan with apprehension. The imposition of new sanctions against Iran mean the prospects for a serious regional initiative on stabilising Afghanistan are now ruled out. Pakistan feels that the west’s growing weakness in the region has left it holding all the strategic cards, especially with a return to power of its Taliban allies now more likely. So India would like Mr Cameron to put his political weight behind plans that stabilise Afghanistan in a way that gives no political space to the Taliban, and which safeguards India’s economic influence. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

    Yet changes in India and Britain’s respective geo-political roles can be seen most obviously in their mutual relationship to the US. India’s cultural and social ties with the US are now so deep that the ruling classes in the two countries are more seamlessly bound than India and Britain ever were. Despite some misgivings about the Obama administration, Indians believe the US has actively supported their arrival on to the world stage, offering in particular an unprecedented nuclear deal. American business, judged by attendance at the Indo-US Business Council at least, has also emerged as a lobbying force on India’s behalf.

    Britain, by contrast, has little to offer that grips India’s imagination. The East India Company came as a trade delegation and founded a mighty empire; Mr Cameron will have to prove, that the prime minister of Britain can lead something other than a mere business delegation.

    The author is president of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

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