FRIENDS OF INDIA: VISION FOR A 3RD TERM
(25 May 2005)
Pound MP, Chairman of the Labour Friends of India, outlined the
group's vision for a third Labour Term in Office at the House of
Commons on 25 May 2005. The new proposals include reforming the
UN Security Council, real partnerships between Britain and Indian
in trade, investment & finance cooperation, support for India
on Environment, Climate Change & Science and support for growth
infrastructure and security including an "open skies policy"
on commercial flight routes and internal services within India.
said "On this historic occasion, as Labour Friends of India
we reaffirm our commitment to strengthen our comprehensive strategic
partnership for the benefit of both our peoples and the international
community based on universal values of democracy and respect for
the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Let this
third term be used to develop ties based on mutual respect, shared
benefit and prosperity for all."
below is the full transcript of his speech:
begin by thanking you for your support of Labour Friends of India
and for the Labour Party during the election. On the whole, the
Indian vote held up for the Labour Party, which demonstrates the
recognition the community give to us for our work and achievements
on key issues like education, economy and health. It was quite clear
that you voted for a progressive Britain going forward and not back
to the divisive politics associated with Conservative rule.
believe that this historic victory provides us with an opportunity
to put in place changes that are irreversible, which we perhaps
have not had since the introduction of the NHS by the Labour Government
belonging to that era. However, the key consideration for us is
what this third term victory means for international relations and
in particular between Britain and India, what is it that we should
be seeking to embed that hasn't already happened"
begin by congratulating both governments on the Joint Declaration
signed in 2004 titled "Towards a new and dynamic partnership"
and add that we will actively campaign to see the implementation
of the proposals as outlined in the document.
particular we seek to campaign on the following five areas:
OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL
we recognise that the subject of UN reform is akin to opening up
a "Pandora's box", we will continue to pursue the UK government's
pledge of campaigning for a seat on the UN Security Council for
Friends of India will encourage that the playing field is further
levelled by campaigning for veto rights for India on the UNSC. Alternatively,
the removal of veto powers altogether.
believe this is fundamentally important as all other scenarios result
in "gesture politics". We want real and fundamental change
that gives a sixth of this world's humanity that resides in India
a real possibility of influencing international relations.
PARTNERSHIPS IN TRADE, INVESTMENT & FINANCE
are all familiar with the story about our growing trade and investment
links with India that is increasingly being reported in the media.
Indian companies have made significant investments in Britain in
many sectors. Take Tetley Tea owned by Tata, software and call centres
by leading edge Indian companies like NIIT, Satyam et al, financial
services by ICICI Bank and the number of British companies like
P&O, BG, BT et al now taking advantage of India has also increased.
after consulting with others, we get a sense that more could be
done. Take the example of America, whose companies are investing
in significant numbers in India, we surely can't use the excuses
normally presented such as red tape, inefficient bureaucracy etc
because it follows that the Americans must also experience these
Friends of India seeks to promote India to British companies but
in parliamentary terms shall call for an examination into the root
causes why Britain's companies are holding back when everyone else
seems excited. In addition, we will welcome the formation of a private
sector alliance called "The India Group" comprising of
India's biggest companies in Europe headed by Sonjoy Chatterjee
of ICICI Bank.
CLIMATE CHANGE & SCIENCE
have to applaud the role that India has played in the fight against
climate change. It's a known fact that the Kyoto protocol would
not have been ratified without India's active support.
consequences of failure to mitigate the effects of climate change,
or adapt to them are too great. Stresses on water and biodiversity
would have a dire effect on India's ability to lift its poor out
of poverty. For this reason, Labour Friends of India hails the degree
of cooperation between our two nations but asks for the involvement
of civic society and businesses to exchange best practice and the
promotion of greener technologies and applied science.
congratulate the Indian & Pakistani Governments for creating
an atmosphere in which both sides can confidently engage in dialogue
concerning the future shape of their bilateral relationship. We
have seen the strengthening of relations during the recent India
- Pakistan cricket series and commend both nations for taking the
necessary steps for promoting diplomacy and better ties.
to say, Labour Friends of India continues to campaign for the dismantling
of infrastructure and the halt to state sponsorship of terrorism.
60,000 people have died at the hands of terrorists in Jammu &
Kashmir; many thousands displaced and live in dire poverty and squalor
in refugee camps waiting for the day when they can return to their
these difficult circumstances and context, we therefore applaud
the Indian polity in engaging in the composite dialogue with Pakistan
and support the British government's position which recognises that
any progress between the two stands the best chance of success when
direct communication between the parties exists. In our view, the
process of politics and diplomacy and not the killing of innocent
lives will in the end bear fruit.
that we are committed to the growth of the bilateral relationship,
it is necessary to identify the blockages that reduce the pace of
increasing ties. Labour Friends of India will campaign in this third
Encourage the adoption of an "open skies policy". If trade
and investment is to grow at a faster pace, the simple fact is that
more people will need to visit India and Britain. We welcome the
recent increases in air frequencies but believe that an open skies
agreement is in order.
Almost 500,000 Indian people will visit Britain this year. In 2004,
15,645 student visas were issued in India. Migrants make a overwhelmingly
beneficial contribution to the wealth of the UK, accounting for
8% of the population but 10% of the gross domestic product - and
are 20% more likely to be self-employed. Without doubt, the UK will
continue to welcome economic migration within strict criteria. Visitors,
students and migrant workers make a huge contribution to the UK
economy. Labour Friends of India will campaign to ensure that any
future immigration system is clear and flexible and builds on our
existing success in this area.
Too much focus is given to the pursuit of wealth. India has a lot
to learn from Britain and vice versa. If we are to define our whole
relationship in terms of Pounds or Rupees, we will have failed to
see the bigger picture. Labour Friends of India is an advocacy group
in the UK Parliament, which seeks to promote greater linkages between
the peoples of the two nations. In the end any relationship ultimately
boils down to people. For this reason, we seek to promote linkage
at every level of British society with their counterparts in India.
Let primary schools connect through pen-pal schemes, let NGOs and
voluntary groups connect and share experiences, let boroughs twin
with Indian towns and cities. Through increased interaction we will
learn and become confident of each other. This we hope will lead
us in becoming a vibrant and engaged society. We call upon the UK
& Indian Governments to examine ways in which civic society
can play a part in the strengthening of our comprehensive strategic