At India dinner, Cameron waxes eloquent without mentioning India

At India dinner, Cameron waxes eloquent without mentioning India

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a long speech at a British Indian dinner without uttering a single word about India or Anglo-Indian relations, much to the surprise of Indian nationals present at the function.

Those attending the dinner included the Indian High Commissioner to Britain Ranjan Mathai and other diplomats.

With general elections in Britain only six months away, Cameron was clearly in pre-election mode Wednesday night, pandering to the British Indian community in the hope they will swing the way of his Conservative Party, which they haven't done historically.

Most people of Indian origin settled in Britain have over the years voted for the Labour. Even in the last elections, an estimated 65 percent cast their ballot in favour of Labour.

"So tonight is about celebrating all those pioneers and trailblazers, people who have done so well," he said on a day when researchers at University College London revealed immigrants from outside the European Union, the bulk of whom are Indians, have cost the British exchequer a whopping 120 billion pounds between 1995 and 2011, since they have been drawing more from benefits than paying in by way of taxes.

His government has, in fact, cracked down on immigration, which has resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain for higher studies.

"In Britain today, there are still too few ethnic minorities in top positions. The absence is glaring," Cameron lamented.

"First, we need to remove the barriers that stop people getting on. Second, we need to attack prejudice in all its forms. Let me be clear: There is no place for intolerance in this country."

"When I hear the terms Your Honour, Brigadier General, the Right Honourable... more often I want to hear it followed by a British Asian name," he said.

"Indian diplomats are allergic to the term 'British Asian'. They do not approve of India and Indians being clubbed together in a generic form."

"It is laziness and discriminatory on the part of indigenous Britons that they generalise South Asians as Asians, without bothering to separate their nationalities, but don't include the Chinese, Japanese or South East Asians in the same category," he said.

Cameron, however, made no reference to India or ties with it, despite his enthusiasm five years ago about a "special relationship" with New Delhi and even his recent excitement when a change of government occurred in India.

Indeed, Britain and India will fail to achieve their declared target of doubling trade between the two countries to 20 billion pounds by next year.

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