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'UK too lazy to compete with India'

That's what Peter Luff, chairman of the House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee, says.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 10:52 IST

Are British workers becoming too lazy to compete with India's booming economy?

Yes, according to Peter Luff, chairman of the House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee, who recently returned here from a fact-finding tour of India with members of his team.

The time has come for a "wake-up call" to those British people who took the country's prosperity for granted, said Luff, a Conservative MP from Mid-Worcestershire, at a meeting of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Birmingham.

Noting that now there were more Indian companies in Britain than British companies in India, Luff said Indian executives were becoming increasingly dismayed by what he called the "disappearance of work ethic" among British workers.

He said: "I know many British people are working harder than ever - but it's not universally true. What we heard from Indian companies time and time again was complaints about the British work ethic," he said.

"They ring the UK at 5 pm to sort out a client's problems - 10:30 pm in India - and the people here say 'We are sorry but we are going home'. They don't understand it.

"The lack of enterprise in Britain worries me enormously. Our companies are investing in the US and Europe, not in Brazil, China, Russia or India. It's safe investments in the economies of the past.

"The prosperity of this nation is being taken for granted. We have to issue a wake-up call."

India's economy, Luff said at the meeting, was growing at eight percent a year, but the growth had less or nothing to do with British jobs being moved to India.

He noted that in a population of 1.2 billion, only 130,000 people worked in call centres - and most of them for US companies, according to a report in the Birmingham Post.

According to the MP, the real boom in India was in jobs among professionals such as software engineers. He added that India now had a middle class as large as the entire 295 million population of the US, and it was growing by 25 million a year.

"A huge domestic market is opening up - the Indian railways, already the second largest employer in the world, recently advertised for 48,000 vacancies. They got seven million applications," the newspaper quoted him as saying.