Tips to Cameron to make his India trip a success
Posted on: 10:58 AM IST Jul 28, 2010
London: Look out for the "elephant traps" in India, don't mention Kashmir and avoid patronising references to poverty. Don't dare criticise and instead talk of the "New India".
For the past two days British media has been full of tips to Prime Minister David Cameron, who arrived in India on Tuesday night, on how not to upset India if his trip is to be a success. But taking the cake is the tongue-in-cheek advice in the Financial Times reflecting on British and Indian attitudes on certain sub-continental issues.
The newspaper's columnist Alex Barker in his blog asks Cameron to look out for "elephant traps" in India.
The first is 'Kashmir', he says. Recalling controversial utterances by previous British foreign secretaries like Robin Cook and David Miliband, Barker tells Cameron, "The quickest way to turn a charm offensive into a diplomatic fiasco. The basic rule: Don't dare criticise, offer to help, or link bringing peace to tackling terrorism. Stray words have consequences."
The second is 'Poverty'. "More poor people than anywhere on earth. But not worth mentioning too loudly. Talk about the New India instead. Mention the aid review. A patronising tone is fatal."
The third, 'Coming over too fresh'. Barker says: "The young, dynamic, no-nonsense version of Cameron should probably be left behind. It's time to learn some manners. Indian politicians are, as a rule, double his age and four times as grand. If the meetings are stuffy, formal, overbearingly polite, that's a good thing."
The fourth is the 'Immigration cap'. The columnist writes: "A big issue for the Indian elite. Anand Sharma, the commerce minister, raised his 'concerns' earlier this month with Cameron himself. A heavily bureaucratic and stingy visa regime will not encourage Indians to work or study in Britain."