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'Growing Indian economy a challenge'

British PM Tony Blair says this in his final New Year message and calls for making UK's economy more dynamic.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2007 12:06 IST

Citing the challenge posed by growing economies of India and China, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for making Britain's economy "even more dynamic and competitive".

In his final New Year message to the nation as prime minister - he has announced that he will step down this year - Blair noted that the world was a different place when he took over as prime minister in 1997.

"Ten years ago, few people talked about the need to secure long-term energy supplies, the challenge and opportunities thrown up by the growth of the Chinese and Indian economies or advances in genetics. Already we can see the shape of things to come.

"We need to make our economy even more dynamic and competitive - taking advantage of the new areas of bio-science and environmental technology, as well as deepening our strong financial services and creative industrial base".

Listing several achievements by his government over the years, Blair said the party will continue to be at the centre-stage of British politics and win a fourth successive term in office if it followed the path of New Labour.

Blair's message is seen as advice to his successor, widely believed to be Chancellor Gordon Brown, to continue his legacy after he steps down this year. Blair said: "New Labour set a new political course for our nation. Others now have to develop variations on our basic theme.

"In 1997, New Labour vowed to prove that economic prosperity and social justice were goals which were complementary, not in conflict. I believe in 2007, we have shown a country can be prosperous and compassionate".

In what is seen as a veiled warning to Brown, Blair stated: "This is the most difficult time for any government. Nine years into power, mid-term in a third term, Labour has never been in this position before. But the Labour Party should take heart. It is dominating the battle of ideas. It will continue to do so provided it continues to be New Labour.

"Ambition and compassion: the combination of those instincts remain the basis of New Labour's three successive victories. They remain the basis of a fourth".

In 1997, Blair was the youngest prime minister of the 20th century, when he came to power at the age of 43. In February 2005, he became the Labour party's longest-serving prime minister.