Sadly you may have heard about the minibus accident in Mumbai, in which a British High Commission minibus driving journalists covering our visit, two members of David’s team, and High Commission staff, hit a woman who is now critically ill in hospital.
As David said, we have all been deeply shocked and I know that the High Commission is doing all it can to help the victim, and working very closely with the police to help them with their investigation.
In Mumbai we met business leaders. We saw TCS, whose UK operations employ seven thousand people, and HSBC threw us a lunch with about twenty companies, who were telling us how they are ‘going global’. India isn’t just a cheap back office. Of course British business is investing in India, but Indian business is investing in Britain too. And the message coming out of Mumbai and Delhi is that we can do much more – as I said in my speech yesterday (download a pdf
of ‘Open markets, free and fair trade’ speech).
India is in business. It’s got two key things going for it that mean it’s here to stay. The first is demographics. India is a young country – half of the population is under 25. Compare that to China, with its ageing population thanks to the "one child" policy. The second is democracy, which the Indians I met are intensely proud of.
Of course there are challenges. We discussed them with the political leaders here in Delhi yesterday. The Prime Minister threw us lunch, and we met Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul, and the leader of the opposition, LK Advani. They were all very interested to hear from the new Conservative leadership.
And our final visit of the trip, to IIT Delhi, one of India’s top universities. That blew away the idea that India’s universities can’t compete with the best in the world. The students and faculty were impressive. And the young bosses of two new IT spin offs gave presentations showing the very strong links between the university and the entrepreneurial world, which were just as impressive as anything I saw in Silicon Valley earlier in the year. That is certainly omething we can learn from.
Finally I gave my speech to the Confederation of Indian Industry, on the case for free and fair trade. CII met David in the UK in the spring, and have a strong friendship with Conservative Friends of India. If I’ve learnt one thing here, it’s that Indian business is taking on the world – and that’s a good thing.
And now back to Britain where it seems the Government is falling to pieces. Getting the morning news summary has been a highlight of the trip.