UK seeks special ties with India

London keen to export civil nuclear technology; BAE to supply 57 Hawk AJTs
Last Updated 28 July 2010, 19:27 IST

In his first state visit to a country after taking charge as Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron on Wednesday sought to embark on a new special relationship with India, setting up a road map for collaboration between the two countries for economic growth.
Speaking at a gathering of business captains on Infosys’s Electronic City campus here, Cameron charted out a pragmatic course, saying Britain “cannot rely on sentiment and shared history for a place in India’s future.” Rather, the young visiting prime minister said, he “would explain why India is so important to Britain’s future... and I do all this knowing this country has the whole world beating a path to its door.”

Making his case for a “stronger, wider and deeper” relationship with New Delhi, Cameron’s coalition government has quietly taken a decision to allow the export of civil nuclear technology and expertise to India. While the decision, that follows the United States example, is a dramatic illustration of the special relationship he is willing to forge, Cameron said he was “not ashamed” to admit that his visit was primarily aimed at seeking investment from India.

“We in Britain are determined to work even harder to earn our living... attracting more foreign investment to our shores. I am not ashamed to say that’s one of the reasons why I am here today,” Cameron said. India's plan to invest $500 billion in infrastructure projects, its huge retail and cell phone market has caught the attention of the British.
Hard selling his country for investment from India, Cameron said within 50 days of coming to power, his coalition government introduced an emergency budget, cutting red tape, besides reducing corporation tax rates.

Another indicator that the British prime minister considered India a vital partner was the huge delegation that accompanied him. Six senior cabinet colleagues, several business leaders, social entrepreneurs and civil leaders are on the delegation.
In his third visit to India (he had earlier visited the country twice—once before he was a politician and as Leader of Opposition), Cameron sought the opening up of foreign investment in banking, insurance, defence manufacturing and legal services. “Your retail market is growing by 25 per cent annually, and there is no reason why British companies should not be a part of that too,” he said.

Pointing out that Indian companies employ 90,000 people in the UK, Cameron felt there was potential for further expanding the India-EU trade.
The first deal was struck within an hour after Cameron’s Infosys visit. BAE Systems secured a new order worth over Rs 5,200 crore from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for an additional 57 Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) to be built under licence in India.
This is the second lot of purchase by India since 2004 when it finalised a deal to buy 66 Hawks.

The signing ceremony at the HAL complex was witnessed by Cameron, HAL Chairman and Managing Director Ashok Nayak and State Home Minister V S Acharya.
But it is the nuclear issue which might be a sticking point from Britain’s point of view, especially because its Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office have been wary of the issue of exporting civil nuclear technology to India as they are sceptical about the links between New Delhi’s civil and military nuclear programmes.
The Labour Government had held itself back from offering cooperation to India on civil nuclear power.
In a bid to cut down its escalating expenditure on healthcare, the United Kingdom is now exploring the possibility of a collaboration with Indian firms and wants to benefit from their expertise in providing quality medical aid at lower costs.
A business delegation led by John Vincent Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills, on Wednesday visited the Narayana Health City and discussed avenues for such a tie-up with Narayana Hrudayalaya founder Dr Devi Shetty, Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Sparsh Hospitals chairman Dr Sharan S Patil.
According to Cable, they were looking for close collaboration with Indian healthcare companies which have wide expertise in the field. “The UK is an open economy which would welcome the Indian firms to invest there. We want to have a strategic partnership with them,” he said. Calling for joint efforts to tackle climate change, Cameron said during his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Thursday he would discuss how the two countries can develop and new and renewable energy sources.
DH News Service
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(Published 28 July 2010, 19:27 IST)

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