British envoy Rob Young
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British envoy Rob Young

Paid rich tribute to India. The envoy will end his four-year stint next month.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2003 20:33 IST

Trade between India and Britain, currently worth five billion pounds, was expected to double in five years as the two sides enhance their ties in diverse areas, says Britain's outgoing envoy to India.

British High Commissioner Rob Young, who will end his four-year stint next month, said: "There is a change in India's perception of Britain. It is not only rooted in the past. India sees Britain as a modern self-confident nation."

Young noted that India had the attributes and will to be a 21st century superpower. "That is why Britain is keen on increasing its cooperation in all areas with India," he said.

The envoy was speaking at a farewell hosted here Monday night by deputy high commissioner Stuart Innes.

Paying tribute to the Indian community in Britain, Young said: "They are innovative, among the most successful in business and professions and in the arts."

There were 13 million Indians in Britain and this number was steadily growing.

"Indian culture is no longer confined to the Indian community in Britain. It has permeated the whole of British society, and it is not just about chicken tikka masala," Young remarked.

Indian films and visual arts had made a great impact in Britain. He noted that students in British schools were taught about Bollywood films, while movies and plays like "Lagaan" and "Bombay Dreams" had been very popular, cutting across cultures.

This year, the British High Commission had received 60,000 applications for visas and there were 300,000 visitors to Britain from southern India last year, Young noted.

The envoy also declared that "farewells are difficult things", referring to his fondness for India. "We go with India in our bloodstream," said this lover of music, sailing and the theatre.

Young and wife Catherine will live in France after his retirement.

Before the farewell party at the British deputy high commission here, Young met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha, who sought British aid through its Department For International Development (DFID).

Four Indian states receive this assistance and Jayalalitha wanted Tamil Nadu to be added to the list. She sought British help in rehabilitating hut dwellers and in cleaning up Chennai's waterways.

She said English was a universally used language and Britain should help her government to provide better English learning tools to Tamil Nadu's schools.

Young assured the chief minister that Britain would help her government to work out a broad-based language project.

Young also called on Governor P.S. Ramamohan Rao.

First Published: Oct 01, 2003 20:33 IST