India, a success story despite poverty: V Cable

Vince Cable, the influential Business Secretary in the David Cameron cabinet, has returned from his recent India visit flush with the impression that despite poverty, `India is a success story`.

Updated: Aug 01, 2010, 18:52 PM IST

London: Vince Cable, the influential
Business Secretary in the David Cameron cabinet, has returned
from his recent India visit flush with the impression that
despite poverty, `India is a success story`.

Cable wrote a lengthy account of the visit in today`s
Daily Mail titled `The week that revived my love affair with
India - and convinced me that Britain`s future lies there`.

Cable, whose first wife Olympia was of Goa origin,
wrote: "My fascination and affection for the country have been
heightened by my admiration for the remarkable economic
transformation that has taken place: a green agricultural
revolution, an industrial revolution and an IT revolution all
within half a century."

Hundreds of millions have progressed from poverty to
modest prosperity; a vast pool of educated and ambitious
talent has been created, while a vibrant democracy and free
Press have become permanent fixtures.

"I don`t want to be too starry-eyed: vast rural areas
and a sizable percentage of the population of more than one
billion remain wretchedly poor; conflicts based on caste,
religion and class are barely contained in parts of the
country. But, overall, India is a success story."

Cable recalled going to witness his first Test match
with his father at Leeds when Vijay Manjrekar scored a
century.

His first visit to India was 45 years ago as a student
on an overland trek, and the visit, he wrote, "left a deep and
lasting impression".

He wrote: "There was grotesque poverty and visible
hunger but great human warmth, infectious energy and a sense
of security and solidity amid the apparent anarchy.

"I have returned many times as traveller, son-in-law,
economic writer, business representative and parliamentarian".
Cable went on to admit that Britain had been slow to
recognise the change sweeping India over the years.

Despite the ties of history, language, a shared
political system and cricket, trade has slumped to abysmal
levels.

"A generation of young Indians is growing up looking
to the United States for inspiration and higher education.

"To the extent that modern India has registered,
beyond the remote telephone voice from a call centre, it is
because of the Indian presence in Britain rather than the
British presence in India.

An Indian investor, Tata, now owns and runs what used
to be British Steel and British Leyland. The Indian immigrant
minority`s educational and economic performance is way above
the British average but, all too often, is portrayed as part
of the immigration `problem` (although, to be accurate, there
has been abuse of the immigration rules by some Indian
nationals), he wrote.

Cable wrote that what struck him most on the trip was
the `big change in attitudes to Britain` since he first
visited India almost half a century ago.

"British influence was then very strong and memories
of imperial rule were fresh. There was some nostalgia for
those aspects of British rule that worked well like honest and
efficient public administration - but there was also an angry
anti-colonialism, blaming Britain for the poverty and
divisions of the subcontinent.

"Those feelings have now largely gone. Britain`s
problem is no longer the baggage of this imperial past but a
slowness to recognise the opportunities presented by a
re-emerging India (and Asia in general)," he wrote.

"Taking advantage of these opportunities requires
dumping a lot of prejudices about India. We must. There is no
future for Britain looking inward and backward, or being
trapped in a Eurocentric world. Our country must be open for
global business," Cable wrote.

PTI