Labour MP`s attack unfair: Indian diplomats

Indian diplomats on Thursday said the views expressed by Barry Gardiner were "very unfair".

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

"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

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

"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.