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Tory leader Camroon is Ash fan

Camroon says he hopes to meet actress Aishwarya during his Mumbai visit next time, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2006 17:36 IST
Vijay Dutt

He seems to know about and admire her beauty as much as anyone else in the west. The youthful Tory leader David Cameron, "re-christened" Shriman Devdas Cameron at a pre-Diwali reception at Bhaktivedanta Temple in Watford, quipped, "I am told the name Devdas is very popular in Bollywood. I hope the next time I go to Mumbai I will be able to meet Aishwarya Rai."

Delighted with the ritualistic welcome he received at the temple, Cameron showing his "kaleva" on his right wrist told over 200 community members who came from across Britain, "I hope this would be my lucky charm for the prime minister’s question hour." He also promised to take special care of the small statue of Lord Balaji which was presented to him with the message that he is the one who grants wishes of his devotees.

Striking a serious note in his keynote address he praised India and the role of the Indian community in Britain. "The festival of light sends a message of hope and optimism that all of us, of whatever faith, can embrace enthusiastically. Much of what I have to say to you… is about the kind of Britain I want to see for everyone. But first, I'd like to say something about the Hindu community. It's no surprise that you have become such a successful part of British society."

He pointed out , "Many of the values that Hindus brought with them when they arrived here are those traditionally associated with Britain: tolerance, honesty, enterprise, and respect for the law.

"Hindus make up 1 per cent of the population of England and Wales but only 0.025 per cent of the prison population. You live independently of the government but never shirk from contributing to society."

Praising the community further he said, "Hindus have the lowest level of unemployment of any minority community. And you help to strengthen those things that have been in decline here, such as commitment to the family. Hindus are more likely to stay married than people from any other community in Britain."

Heralding a change in the Tory approach so far on selection of parliamentary nominees Cameron said, "I also want to see more Hindu MPs…..In the past ten months I've moved my party back to the centre ground of British politics. People deserve a real choice of government. I will make sure that there is always a sensible and moderate alternative to vote for."

He said challenges lie ahead and "I have no doubt that Hindus will play a full part in meeting those challenges. Not just in the fields of business and enterprise where this community have made an amazing contribution out of all proportion to its size. But also in the public sector where so many Hindus serve as doctors, as chemists, as civil servants."

He made an important observation on the granting of citizenship. He said, "Teaching new arrivals how to speak English, ensuring that people – particularly young people – mix in school and beyond the school gate through school exchange programmes," are pre-requisites.

Cameron was full of praise for "the dynamism of the Indian economy and the vibrancy of Indian democracy. And by the clear sense that here is an emerging superpower" and reiterated that "I want to see a new special relationship for the 21st century between Britain and India. Not simply because of our shared heritage, values and the English language. But also because of the challenges we face together. Key issues such as the impact of globalisation and the threat of terrorism. And, of course, the need to create and maintain successful, pluralist, multi-faith democracies."

First Published: Oct 18, 2006 17:36 IST