London: India will be one of the most important countries in the 21st century, the British Council has said ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit next month as it called for closer collaboration between India and the UK in cultural and educational fields.
'India Matters', a report released by the British Council, sets out steps that the UK must take to create a new, mutually beneficial relationship for the next 50 years.
"It is clear that India will be one of the most important countries globally of the 21st century. The UK has so much to offer India in supporting its growth, and both countries have so much to gain from working together. This new research demonstrates how through our educational and cultural links, the UK can get ahead of the competition to partner with India," said Rob Lynes, British Council's director in India.
"But it's vital that our next generation recognises modern, digital, urban India and looks for the opportunities to collaborate, otherwise we won't just miss out, but risk getting left behind. Prime Minister Modi's forthcoming visit should help boost knowledge of India amongst the wider British population," he said.
The research conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the British Council found that 30 per cent of the young Indians surveyed reported that they had visited the UK and 22 per cent that they had done business with the UK.
In contrast just 9 per cent of young people from the UK had visited and only 8 per cent had done business with India.
While 74 per cent of young Indians surveyed said that they knew "a great deal" or "a fair amount" about the UK, just 21 per cent of young people from the UK said the same about India.
"This perhaps reflects fewer opportunities for young people from the UK to gain direct experience of India," the report said.
It concludes that the UK must continue to increase the time, effort and money it invests in modern India to ensure it remains a key partner for the future, founded on deep appreciation of each other?s contemporary culture rather than shared history alone.
The research suggests that young British people need to learn more about India and refresh their view of this growing economic power, which will be one of the countries that will shape the 21st century.
British High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan said: "In recent years, the UK government has worked to build a stronger, wider and deeper partnership with India. It has invested in strengthening its own relationships and network in India.