Friday, July 30, 2010

It’s India’s poor who need British aid, not its military and business elites

In tickling the vanity of Delhi’s super-rich, David Cameron shuns the most principled area of the two countries’ relationship

Pankaj Mishra, The Guardian/UK, July 28, 2010

This week David Cameron flew to India in a chartered plane, accompanied by six ministers, innumerable corporate chiefs, and even a few Olympic medallists. Cameron has vowed to forge a “new special relationship” with the world’s second-fastest growing economy, which the Labour government, infatuated with the old special relationship, neglected to build. A foundation for this alliance was apparently laid today when BAE signed a £500m contract to supply 57 Hawk jet trainers to India’s air force and navy.

India seeks urgently and expensively to modernise its military. No one in the British delegation will be pressing Indian flesh more eagerly this week than representatives of BAE and Rolls-Royce, who in India are vying for some of the world’s biggest weapons contracts. The rest of the Indian scene is not so inviting (and Cameron is wise to refrain from invoking old colonial links, which would slight India’s new amour-propre as much as it might gladden British hearts).

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