India Insight

Tony Blair says India to be ‘one of the key leading powers of the world’

September 11, 2010

Forced to cancel book-signing events in his own country due to the threat of being pelted by eggs by anti-war protestors, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair took the publicity tour for his newly-released memoirs to India with an interview with the Times of India on Saturday.

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after a joint news conference in New Delhi, September 8, 2005. REUTERS/Kamal Kishore

In A Journey, which has caused a great deal of interest and controversy in the UK, Blair writes: “India remains , still developing, that manages to be genuinely democratic,” and this sentiment continues in the interview:

“I was very keen to move beyond the old-fashioned relationship… My view was India was going to be one of the key leading powers of the world in the times to come. The west in the 21st century, including countries like mine will have to get used to the fact that we’re going to have partners who will be equals, sometimes more than equals,” he says.

Like his successor David Cameron, who led a high-profile trip to India in July, Blair was keen for the UK to make the most of the Indian growth story, visiting the country in 2005 as European Union President to broker trade agreements.

Out of office since 2007, Blair now sees India’s value to the global community as more than just an investment opportunity:

“Lot of people focus on the Indian economy and its diversity, and so on, and all that is true and absolutely right. But it’s also what India has got to teach is in terms of culture, in terms of peaceful co-existence between religions and in terms of dealing with this struggle against terrorism.”

Indeed, an interesting aspect of the interview centres on Blair’s comments on the relationship between Pakistan and India. A key partner in the Bush Administration’s War on Terror that saw UK troops invade Iraq and Afghanistan during his tenure, Blair appears to sympathise with India’s position:

“I tried very hard to encourage a better relationship between India and Pakistan. But I was very conscious of the fact that India was suffering the consequences of terrorism, that terrorism was serious and I think, we in the west were pretty slow to wake up to the Indian experience and what it meant, not just for India, but for us.”

Since Blair left Downing Street, he’s had little impact on British policymaking, and even less since the incumbent Conservative-Liberal coalition government deposed Blair’s Labour party from power this year.

But the former PM, who led the UK government for 10 years, is still an important international figure due to his role as Middle East envoy for the U.N., EU, U.S. and Russia, and his strong links with the U.S. – a country he admits in the interview that dictated the majority of UK foreign policy with India.

For serving and former British prime ministers alike, the Indian honeymoon appears stronger than ever.

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“But it’s also what India has got to teach is in terms of culture, in terms of peaceful co-existence between religions and in terms of dealing with this struggle against terrorism.””…same old, same old.

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive
 

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