Farewell to British Deputy High Commissioner to India   Jan 01

India is a remarkable country - a country with almost 1bn people, with a huge diversity of language, religion and tradition - enjoying liberty, freedom, economic stability and relative social harmony. Indian Governments, the Indian Civil Service, the numerous political parties and the civil society have all played their part over the last 50 years to make India governable. Indeed, they have all contributed to the success that India has enjoyed - success in raising living standards, success in science and technology, success in having political and economic influence at the international level. I congratulate the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee, and his Government in projecting India as a force to reckon with.

How can India move forward at a greater speed? How can India exploit fully its human resources? How can it appeal to and attract investment from the Indian diaspora - the NRI? It has been suggested that about 20million NRIs worldwide produce more in value than India itself! Why have Taiwan, Hong Kong, & even China, been more successful at tapping the resources of their diaspora?  

I understand that Mr. Vajpayee has asked Mr. Singhvi - ex High Commissioner in London - to formulate a policy on attracting NRIs who are keen to invest in India. What a challenge for Mr. Singhvi? He is, of course, admirably qualified to take on this task after his distinguished service here in London. I wish Mr. Singhvi every success in this important task.

The Indian Civil Service is a great institution and I do not wish to be disrespectful of its  achievements. All countries, large and small, need bureaucracies to run the affairs of state. Bureaucracy is like sand in an oyster - a little of it makes a fine pearl - too much sand kills the oyster! Indians have a natural flair for enterprise. Enterprise in India can fluorish without interference from the state at both local and national level. The culture of bureaucracy, characterised by a rigourous pyramidal chain of command and endless meetings, wastes resources, strangles initiative and frightens potential investors. India can gain from Britainīs experience in privatisation.

Britain has a unique and special relationship with India. Britain is a lead player in Europe. Britainīs lead in activating bi-lateral trade and investments with India will be noticed by other European Member States. Such mutual trade and investments  create employment, new skills and bring prosperity to all.

Therefore, I hope that Mr. Parkinson will be the engine for change - an engine that will push further the excellent trade relations that Britain has with India.

I wish Mr. Parkinson well in his new challenging mission to India!