A new report by British Council has called for jettisoning “outdated perceptions” about India and focusing on items on new India’s agenda such as Digital India, Skill India and Smart Cities initiative to retain Britain’s relevance in the country.
The report titled ‘India Matters’ released on Tuesday before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit cites the council’s research that suggests a “growing disconnect” between the UK and India.
The report has been received well in Indian circles in London.
It says: “In particular there is a mismatch between Indian and British young people’s experience and knowledge of each other’s countries. In a survey…for the British Council 74% of young educated Indians said they knew ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ about the UK, while just 21% of young people from the UK said the same about India”.
“At the same time, the UK is seen by some Indians as a country of diminishing relevance”, it adds.
Busiess secretary Sajid Javid says in the report’s foreword: “(A) shared past is not enough to keep a relationship going”. He notes that a “fast-growing India” is poised to become one of the world’s most influential nations.
Calling for closer engagement, he adds: “This strategy needs to be founded on deep appreciation of each other’s contemporary culture, not on any outdated perceptions…As the balance of economic and political power shifts around the globe, we’re at a key juncture in the development of relations between India and the UK”.
Britain, the report says, needs to take advantage of its unique relationship “before India’s next generation turns its attentions elsewhere”.