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Britain needs India more, says British media

Ahead of the British prime minister's India visit, the mainstream British media described it as a test of David Cameron's pragmatism and observed that Britain needs India more.

world Updated: Jul 26, 2010 16:14 IST

Ahead of the British prime minister's India visit, the mainstream British media described it as a test of David Cameron's pragmatism and observed that Britain needs India more.

The newspapers acknowledge India as a rising global economic power, advising the British delegation that Britain needs a "special relationship" with the country more than India does.

The Times writes in a leader titled "India Rising" that "Cameron's trip underlines a shift in global economic power. Greater commercial ties and support for a nation threatened by terrorism are in the UK's interest".

Its message to Cameron is: "British governments with an instinct to offer unsolicited advice have sometimes aggravated tensions in the Indian sub-continent. Mr Cameron should stick to a clear message in his talks with (Indian Prime Minister) Dr (Manmohan) Singh.

"Both countries have suffered from attacks by Islamist terrorists. India's status as a democracy embodying ethnic and religious pluralism would make it a natural ally for the UK, regardless of historical, literary and economic links. India is a crucial regional actor and an emerging power. Most of all, it must be a force for modernity."

The Financial Times, in its story headlined "Cameron leads delegation to court India", says some diplomats are queasy at the idea in the coalition agreement that Britain should seek "a new special relationship with India". They fear India will see such talk as patronising, not least since over the past decade Britain has fallen from India's fourth most important source of imports to 18th.

"Diplomats have also removed from ministerial speeches references to 'an equal partnership' between the UK and India, fearing it overstates Britain's importance to New Delhi and suggests the relationship was unequal in the past."

The Guardian's leads its story with the headline "David Cameron's India trip may be 'undermined' by immigration policy".

The opening paragraph says: "Britain is sending 'contradictory messages' to India by imposing new immigration restrictions on entrepreneurs just as David Cameron hopes to open up a new chapter in relations by leading the largest ministerial delegation to the sub-continent in recent history."

The Independent headline is "Cameron hoping to forge new special relationship with visit to India".

The story reflects on Cameron's thoughts about India: "For Mr Cameron, it is personal as well as business. The change in foreign policy is very much his pet project, not something cooked up by mandarins. He was converted during a visit to India in 2006, his first overseas trip as Leader of the Opposition.

"He believes - and some politically neutral British officials agree - that the previous Labour Government put too many eggs in China's basket and got little in return, while paying lip service to the world's largest democracy, India."

The Telegraph in its story headlined "UK hopes for a profitable passage to India" said India still needs British aid for its infrastructure projects, but cautions the Cameron delegation.

"Of course, the delegation is caught up in a nuanced diplomatic, historical and political matrix. The legacy of colonialism is mixed up with modern realities about the two countries' shifting place on the world stage. Good things will come from the trip, but it is not hard to see which country needs it more."