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Revaluating Indo-British Ties

Revaluating Indo-British Ties

June 13, 2010

As India hobnobs in style with the Obama administration, what about Britain?

Last week was a big one for the Indo-US relationship as Foreign Minister S M Krishna kicked off the inaugural round of the US-India strategic dialogue in Washington. Leader after leader reaffirmed India’s growing importance as a key ally of the US in addressing critical global challenges. But the final assertion of this strong partnership came from President Obama himself as he addressed a reception held for Krishna by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and officially confirmed his plans for a November visit.

This was a huge step forward for an association that was on shaky ground after Obama’s very obvious anti-outsourcing stance. The general misnomer among political pundits that Obama was ignoring India in his bid to strengthen ties with Beijing and secure US military objectives with his Af-Pak strategy. For a partnership that had flourished under the Bush era, what with the Indo-US nuclear deal being inked, this was almost like new life was being breathed into the relationship after a long period of estrangement.

But even as the new wave of this political alliance takes off in style, what’s really happened to the Indo-British love affair? Does India’s “gen-next” really care about Britain anymore? After all we share a long history with the United Kingdom and whatever is said and done we are immensely proud of our colonial past, whether it’s through our use of the English language, our constitution and judiciary or the long established tradition of our students going and studying at Britain’s well respected universities like Oxford and Cambridge. Has that awe and reverence for anything ‘British’ so apparent among the previous generations waned with the fading impact of the Raj?

Not quite! But our general apathy and lack of interest in Britain was discernible during the recently held general elections. A survey conducted by a leading newspaper here in India revealed that majority of the respondents questioned (except in Calcutta, the last capital of British India) did not even know Britain had an impending general election. About half the population surveyed in various metros couldn’t care less who took over as the next prime minister and there was a general lackadaisical attitude towards the whole exercise, pretty much contrary to the excitement we saw building up in India when the presidential race was going on in the United States.

On the positive front though, 79% of those polled said India’s relationship with Britain was an important one and from what the findings suggest, there is still that sense of intrigue when it comes to other quintessentially British things like the royal family, an obsession with etiquette and manners etc. Indians also held Britain in high esteem when it came to things like cleanliness, good education, architecture etc.

Of course with more and more Indian students going to the UK to study each year, a large and successful diaspora and a long legacy through the commonwealth of nations, Britain will always matter in India’s scheme of things & vice versa. But on the geo-political front at least, the next few decades will be shaped by strong Indo-US bilateral ties.


  • Rangela Ram
    Rangela Ram
    13.05.13 06:15 AM
    I think it will become dificult for Britain to gain India's trust and attention after the mess the British did over 200 years colonisation. After 1947 independence of India, Britain pushed negative image of Indians in the Western world and the British origin people were behind racism and hate towards Indians in UK, Canada, Australia, US and Europe. But Indians slogged it out and now are financially better off and skilled. They do not need any British technology. In fact Britain could use India's help. Germans and French filled India's needs and are trusted and reaping the benefits in India while english men and women are losers. It is called bad Karma.
  • Nikhil
    13.06.10 03:50 PM
    Jayant what according to you are the other strong binding factors? Our trade with the uk is negligable and we aren't military allies either. The only thing that keeps this relationship alive is india's preference for britain as an education hub and the large indian community settled there whose well being is in india's interest. With regards to our pride in our colonial past, well that is exactly where all that snobbery among india's elite stems from. :)
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    13.06.10 12:19 PM
    "whatever is said and done we are immensely proud of our colonial past" -

    The railways,the judiciary etc. were developed for their convenience and for greater efficiency in governance which we just took over after independence and we're at best, thankful for that. I dont see how I can associate pride with our colonial past.

    However, I do not want to quote you out of context and I do agree with your views on the importance of India's relationship with UK but I feel there are better reasons than the NRI diaspora and a common past which would have made a stronger case in the article.

    May be the BBC can start to report news in a less politically correct manner to start with :)

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