India Insight

Is India really the world’s fifth most powerful country?

April 13, 2011

India is the world’s fifth most powerful country, according to a New Delhi-authored national security document, the Times of India reported on Wednesday, as Indian analysts placed the emerging nation above major European powers.

Should Britain continue its controversial £1bln India aid package?

February 14, 2011

The UK will continue to send more than £1 billion to India over the next four years, despite huge cuts to government spending under London’s Conservative-led coalition government and soaring economic growth in the Asian giant.
Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell speaks during a plenary meeting of the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations  August 19, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s international development secretary, told the Financial Times on Monday that Britain’s annual £280 million aid payments to India would not be reduced, in spite of the country’s space ambitions, nuclear energy development, soaring numbers of billionaires and its own aid program to many African nations.

Does Indian literature owe its global success to the Raj?

January 18, 2011

As close to 50,000 people prepare to celebrate India’s bulging roster of nationally and internationally renowned authors and poets at the seventh annual Jaipur Literary Festival, a public spat between its British organiser and an Indian magazine over allegations of perpetuating “a Raj that still lingers” threatens to ignite a decades-old debate over the role of colonial English in the country’s literary success.

Shunning UK aid would show India’s rising confidence

September 15, 2010

Choosing to jump on its own terms than face the ignominy of waiting to be pushed, India may have politely but firmly asked the UK not to send any more aid from next year in a sign of the country’s increasing self-confidence on the global stage.

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.

BA’s Kingfisher deal ups pressure on India’s airline regulators

September 6, 2010

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, is not afraid of conflict. Having tackled investors who have seen the airline struggle through two years of substantial losses and stared down continued industrial action from his cabin crew, he’s now set his sights on India’s civil aviation regulators.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Dreams from my father: South Asia’s political dynasties

August 4, 2010

bilawal"Whatever the result, this meeting will be a turning point in Pakistan's history," Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto told his daughter Benazir as he prepared for a summit meeting with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972 in the Indian hill resort of Simla after his country's defeat by India in the 1971 war. "I want you to witness it first hand."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Britain and the Kashmir banana skin

January 29, 2009

Memories seem to be short in the British government when it comes to Kashmir. Foreign Secretary David Miliband stirred up a diplomatic row over the region during his visit to India earlier this month. As this piece in The Times says, Miliband angered Indian officials by giving what they described as "unsolicited advice" on Kashmir, over which India has three times gone to war with Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947 and over which it is in no mood to be lectured by outsiders, let alone the former colonial power.
It was on a visit to Pakistan and India in 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of those two countries' independence that the then British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, also got into trouble over Kashmir. Cook, who also served the Labour government, was forced to row back from suggestions that Britain might help resolve the long-running dispute. His intervention cast a serious shadow over the visit by Queen Elizabeth, who was at one point forced to cancel a long-planned speech.
The visit, during which the queen was accompanied by Cook, went downhill after that, and at one point a senior British diplomat was seen sitting, head in hands in despair, on the pavement outside Chennai airport. There were even suggestions, denied of course, that the British High Commissioner might be recalled. Tony Blair, then prime minister, had to patch up ties by assuring his Indian counterpart, Inder Kumar Gujral, that London would not meddle in Delhi's dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.
One wonders whether Miliband was reminded of all this before he went to India, and if he was, why did he walk into the Kashmir minefield once again. Or maybe he wasn't, which poses a different set of questions about competence and institutional memory at the Foreign Office.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Miliband’s gift: stiffening Indian resolve over Pakistan

January 28, 2009

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband may yet end up achieving the opposite of what he intended in India when he called for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute in the interests of regional security.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India – aiming for diplomatic encirclement of Pakistan?

December 26, 2008

India is piling on the diplomatic pressure to convince the international community to lean on Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants blamed by New Delhi for the Mumbai attacks.