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Indian diaspora respected for ethics: Tory MP

The Indian community in UK is widely respected and liked, says Stephen Crabb, the youngest Conservative member of the House of Commons.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2007 15:58 IST

The Indian community in Britain is widely respected and liked, says a Tory MP, putting into perspective the escalating racism debate in Britain, particularly after verbal attacks against Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on the TV show Celebrity Big Brother.

"Indians are respected for their work ethic, business success and the way they have integrated into British society," said Stephen Crabb, who at 34 is the youngest Conservative member of the House of Commons.

"There is little jealousy or animosity towards the Indian diaspora among British people and that is one of the reasons why Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty attracted so much support during the dispute over Jade Goody's behaviour," Crabb told the agency during an India tour with British human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Shetty, who was allegedly subjected to racist bullying by fellow participant reality TV star Goody, was last month voted to victory on "Celebrity Big Brother" by viewers in Britain.

Crabb said Shetty was the only celebrity among the participants of the Channel 4 programme that had a bunch of people cooped up together in a house with no access to the outside world.

"During my visit to India, I realised that Shetty is truly a celebrity, unlike Jade Goody and others, who are far from being famous in the UK."

"Whether Jade Goody's comments were motivated by racism or not, they were unquestionably rude and offensive. Goody's behaviour was ugly and many British people want to distance themselves from it," added Crabb, who won the Preseli Pembrokeshire seat in the 2005 general election.

The British parliamentarian, who is a member of the Conservative Friends of India committee, said there was growing awareness in Britain, especially in political circles, about India's economic growth and its increasing importance as a regional power and a strategic ally.

"While there is still some concern, often fuelled by trade unions, among the general population about job security as a result of outsourcing to India, many people are recognising that India has arrived on the world stage and will help shape global economic and geopolitical developments in the decades ahead," added Crabb.

When asked what key areas his committee had identified for engagement with New Delhi, he said the highest on the agenda was trade.

"The fear is that firms in the UK are not capturing enough of the huge increase in India's international trade. The US and Australia seem to do better."

According to Crabb, the concerns of the committee included educational links, especially in the fields of science and engineering, and healthcare.

His party is also eager to see an increasing diplomatic role of India in the area of regional security.

The committee, he added, was concerned about the protection of human rights "not just within India, but how India can influence other nations' human rights situation, for example Burma (Myanmar)".

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