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UK, India face far-reaching changes: Ex-NI secy

Peter Mandelson, at a meet attended by Arun Jaitley, said both nations have the responsibility of "preparing people for the future,

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:22 IST

Law and Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley and Peter Mandelson, former Northern Ireland Secretary, the main speakers at the first Clement Attlee Lecture and Banquet titled "Why India matters in London", significantly talked about the changes both the countries, India and Britain, are undergoing and effecting presently.

While noting that his family history as well as India's was bound to Attlee's achievements, Mandelson said both the countries are facing "accelerating and far-reaching economic and social change" and both governments have the responsibility of "preparing people for the future, whatever the short-term costs in electoral popularity".

In both countries, he added, "we are showing that it is possible to pursue a programme of economic competence and social justice". He also touched upon the terrorism plaguing India.

Jaitley was forthright in saying that while there was some "change of intent" on Pakistan's side in its support to militants in Kashmir, India "has asserted that it would fight its own battle against the terrorists and win and ensure the return of the 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits to the valley. "I think there is no substitute to India winning this whole issue (battle against terrorists) and succeeding and these 300,000 people (Kashmiri Pandits) going back."

Nearly 600 guests including the Indian High Commissioner, NK Singh, Lord Swraj Paul, Ambassador for British Overseas Business, Lord Kang, SP Hinduja and GP Hinduja, and delegates of the Confederation of Indian Industry, currently on a visit here, were present at the lecture and banquet at the Radisson SAS Portman Hotel.

Jaitley iterated that the Kashmiri people were no longer joining the terrorist networks and there was an increased alienation of the Kashmiri from terrorists and their ideology of terror.

The situation is "lot more positive situation there. There also seems to be a lot of pressure on Pakistan to stop this cross border activity. And there is some change of intent (on the part of Pakistan Government), at least in ostensible pronouncement the leadership of the regime that is making today".

Mandelson pointed out that with both countries on course to effecting changes, "what's good for Britain is relevant to India too". India's success is rooted in its long history of civilisation and strong tradition of democracy, Mandelson said. " India offers a model of stability and diversity which it must do to everything to preserve."

Jaitley, too, said that India could proudly call itself as the most vibrant democracy and which has become a knowledge resource, a provider of knowledge to the minds of the world. He assured that India has developed confidence and has emerged stronger from every crisis. "There is, despite global terrorism and terror from the neighbour, no "Indian Al-Qaeda."