Labour MP`s attack unfair: Indian diplomats
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Last Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 21:05
  
London: Describing criticism by the chairman of the Labour Friends of India of the Indian High Commission here as "unprecedented", Indian diplomats on Thursday said the views expressed by Barry Gardiner were "very unfair".

Gardiner had yesterday alleged that the absence of a representative of the Indian High Commission during the debate in the House of Commons amounted to India downgrading its relationship with India.

He called the High Commission "rudderless" in a press release after the debate.

A senior Indian diplomat said: "This is unprecedented and very unfair to the High Commission. His view was just one among many during the debate, and I am sure not shared. "He is obviously hurt about something, and allowed vitriol to get the better of him".

In a statement yesterday, the High Commission rejected Gardiner's criticism about India downgrading trade ties with the UK, and cited figures to disprove his contention.

It chose not to officially comment on other remarks by Gardiner, who also chairs the All-Party Group on UK-India Trade.

"The Labour party has lot of goodwill in India. There is a sense of disappointment, particularly because so much had work has been done in recent months on trade ties between the two countries", the diplomat said, and added that Gardiner's views were unlikely to be shared by members of the Labour party such as Keith Vaz, the Foreign Office and others.

Indian diplomats expressed disappointment as they prepared to host a Republic Day reception in central London later today.

According to the debate transcript, Gardiner said: "(I) note that the High Commission does not have a presence here today.

"That is extraordinary for a debate of this nature on India. I have never known that to happen before, and it shows not only a lack of rudder at the High Commission but a downgrading in the mind of the Indian Government of the importance of what we say in this Chamber, and of the UK in India's relationships".

Refuting Gardiner's contention, the High Commission statement said: "As a matter of fact, India-UK trade has crossed 10 billion pounds mark till November 2011 against 9.

8 billion pounds in whole of 2010, despite the continuing global economic slowdown.

"FDI from UK into India registered a substantial increase in 2011, from a level of USD 755 million in 2010-11 to over USD 2.5 billion during April - October 2011".

The High Commission said there had been several new investments and acquisition of businesses by Indian entities in the UK in 2011.

"Last year 2011, has seen a very full range of trade and investment engagements between India and UK including Infrastructure financing conference, SME conference, India-Wales business meet in Cardiff and a number of ministerial visits and bilateral interactions from India to UK", it said.

According to the transcript of the debate, MPs from various parties who participated wanted the David Cameron government to prepare for the June visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the UK.

Several MPs wanted the government to do more to engage with the fast-growing economy in India, and were looking forward to an agreement between India and the European Union on free trade, scheduled for early February.

Some members, however, raised the issue of non-payment of dues to British companies who were engaged during the Commonwealth Games, an issue that has been taken up at the prime ministerial and other levels.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 21:05


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