EU offers Indian "Takeaway" Oct02

Over 1 billion people from different ethnic backgrounds, speaking different languages and professing different faiths within one national border would be difficult to govern using a liberal democratic system. How can they all have a national identity? How can you create new jobs to keep pace with population growth? India has made huge advances in agriculture, engineering, information technology, pharmaceuticals, defence industry and nuclear technology. It runs a railway network that baffles the Europeans including the British. Its cities, like Bombay, run a “tiffyn” meal delivery system that even DHL, Fedex and UPS cannot comprehend!

Yet, India is a sleeping giant that continues to struggle with the immense task of exploiting its full ‘human’ potential. Almost 60 million of its children receive inadequate schooling and yet it has millions of qualified graduates who are underemployed or employed in menial tasks. Why has it not produced affordable domestic appliances that use biogas or solar energy? Why does it not have wind farms generating and supplying energy to the poor rural populations? Why does it tolerate its inefficient bureaucracy that so infuriates its own citizens, foreign tourists and investors? It sustains the culture of “who you know” not "what you know". It infects all levels of economic and social life.

Bollywood is a great success story from India – why is science and technology lagging behind?

India’s distinguished Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee, has planted the seeds of change. He has begun the economic liberalisation by opening sectors for domestic and foreign investment; he has endeavoured with calm and patience to contain political difficulties in Gujarat and Kashmir. India’s Prime Minister must continue to roll back the power of the bureaucrats.  He must help create an open market where competition drives demand so that the buyer has the choice of goods and services he wants at the time and place he desires.

The European Commission has adopted a five year strategy for India, which will make €225 million (£170m) available for development and economic co-operation. The principal objective of this strategy is to assist India to build its “human capital” by dedicating its resources to making elementary education universal, improving health services for deprived population groups, and restoring and safeguarding a healthy environment.

I am delighted to say that, as a Member of the European Parliament’s Committee for Industry, External Trade, Research & Energy, I drafted and submitted the Parliament’s opinion on the EU/India Technical and Economic Co-operation Agreement confirming the importance of such collaboration and specifying the areas of special attention.


The EU co-operation programme in India will focus on the following areas:


  • Investing resources in a ‘partnership for progress’, initially with one Indian state committed to reducing poverty by pursuing a social and economic reform agenda.
  • Working with Indian authorities to unlock the full potential of India’s economy through regulatory reform, privatisation and fiscal reform. This will help India achieve better returns on its vast economic assets.
  • Facilitate the exchange of talented students, scholars and scientists between India and the EU so that we can create joint projects in research & development, especially in the fields of energy e.g. biogas, biofuel, wind and solar.

Gujarat has recently suffered from natural disasters, civil unrest and loss of investor confidence. It has a population that offers a wide range of skills, including entrepreneurial skills. There are many who are poor, disadvantaged and victims of the recent disasters. The men and women of Gujarat, irrespective of religion and caste, are eager and willing to collaborate with any State Government initiative that could allow them to tap into the kind of assistance offered by the EU. There are scholarships on offer, as well as technical and scientific expertise in pharmaceutical, engineering and agricultural fields.  The state of Gujarat could benefit from this EU help as its programme covers improved governance through devolution in decisions and management. It encourages participation of stakeholders, especially women, and traditionally disadvantaged sectors of the population. Further information on this programme is available online at: