London: Noting that India is making its mark on the global economy with electrifying skill, innovation and dynamism, British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that now is the time to make a "stronger, wider and deeper" relationship with India.
"We want a relationship between India and Britain that is stronger, wider, and deeper," Hague said.
Launching the India Institute at the King's College in London last evening, the British foreign secretary said that India is already one of the largest economies in the world and will soon have the world's largest population.
"Now is the time to study India, to invest in India and to work with India. This applies to all of us, to those of us in Government seeking a stronger foreign policy and economic future for this country; to businesses seeking to expand, and to individuals seeking new opportunities and a deeper understanding of today's world," he said.
He said India is leading the way in the development of renewable energy and green technologies. "It is playing an increasingly important role in the affairs of the world – from tackling piracy off the Horn of Africa to United Nations peacekeeping and development support to Afghanistan."
Hague, who announced that he would be visiting India later this year, said: "We want the brightest and the best to come to Britain. We have made our immigration system far more efficient and targeted... But we are clear that if you want to come to Britain legitimately as a student, a business person or a visitor, then you are very welcome in the UK."
The King's India Institute, which opened its doors to students in September 2011, is already rapidly becoming a world-leading institution for global engagement with contemporary India. In his speech, Hague said he has launched a new programme in the Foreign Office called Diplomatic Excellence, which is designed to foster and retain deep cultural knowledge and understanding of other nations among Britain's diplomats, including their language skills.
"It is a programme which our diplomats have embraced with enthusiasm, and it includes the formation of a new cadre dealing with India and a new diplomatic training programme to deepen our expertise in contemporary India," he said.
Hague said there could be few other countries anywhere in the world that are as genuinely optimistic and positive about India's success "as we are here in Britain”.
"India's success speaks for itself, but nonetheless I spent several years in opposition speaking at the parliamentary despatch box, describing the great and inexorable shift in the international landscape typified by the rise of India and the other emerging powers, and calling for British foreign policy to expand its reach and ambition in response to these changes," he said.
"It stands as a beacon of successful democratic and economic development, one that many developing nations look to for an example to follow," the veteran Conservative leader said, adding "it enriches our shared culture in innumerable ways - from the prize-winning novels of Aravind Adiga to the sporting prowess of Sachin Tendulkar."
The rise of India and other nations, he said, is good for the people of those countries. "It is good for the world and it brings immense opportunities for a country like Britain that is able to seize them."
"We want to be India's partner of choice in a whole range of areas as it develops its economy, supporting jobs creation and growth in both our countries.”
"We have set the target of doubling our trade with India by 2015 compared to 2010 and are making good progress: our exports were up more than 40 per cent last year and India is now our third largest market outside the EU."
Britain, he said, wanted to see India represented at the top table of international decision-making, working more closely with us and other nations to address global issues. "That is why we support reform of the UN Security Council and a permanent seat for India. The time has come to make Security Council reform a reality. The institutions that underpin global governance must become more representative if they are to succeed in finding legitimate and sustainable solutions to the challenges of this century.”
"This will not be easy to achieve, but it is essential. And while our countries do not always agree in foreign policy, we have a strong base to build on many shared values and a growing range of common interests that bind us.”
"In building this stronger relationship we know, as our Prime Minister (David Cameron) has said, as he put it, Britain cannot rely on sentiment or on shared history for a place in India's future. It is something that we must work hard to achieve."
First Published: Friday, January 27, 2012, 15:30