Lord Gadhia said the references in his memoir For The Record highlight the warmth of his friendship with India and his respect to Indian leaders like Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi…. Writes Kaliph Anaz
Lord Jitesh Gadhia, the Conservative Lord and a close friend of David Cameron, said the former prime minister played a crucial role in cementing Indo-UK relations in the new millennium.
Lord Gadhia said the references in his memoir For The Record highlight the warmth of his friendship with India and his respect to Indian leaders like Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.
“Cameron’s positive legacy with India should not be drowned out by Brexit,” the Lord said in a statement. “As someone who had the privilege of working closely with David Cameron, his efforts to build a modern partnership with India deserve more charitable treatment from historians. Throughout his tenure, Cameron did more than any other holder of his office to reach out proactively to India, as an emerging superpower, and to recognise the outsized contribution made by over 1.5 million members of the British Indian diaspora.”
I got on well with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He was a saintly man, but he was robust on the threats India faced
In the memoir Cameron said: “When it came to India, I argued thewe needed a modern partnership – not one tinged with colonial guilt, but alive to the possibilities of the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy. Many of Britain’s most successful business leaders and cultural figures are from the Indian diaspora community and would be our greatest weapons in the endeavour.”
“I got on well with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He was a saintly man, but he was robust on the threats India faced. On a later visit he told me that another terrorist attack like that in Mumbai in July 2011, and India would have to take military action against Pakistan.”
Lord Gadhia said the Indo-UK relationships were on its peak during the Cameron’s tenure at No 10. The British prime minister saw positivity in everything in India. Even the Mumbai slums gave him a vibrant picture.
“We couldn’t afford to carry on obsessing about Europe and America while ignoring the fresh new forces that were shaping our world. It was an amazing visit,” Cameron wrote in his memoir. “I travelled around Delhi in a tuk tuk and walked through the Mumbai slums in the pouring rain to visit a community project.”
“Cameron signalled his clear geopolitical priority from the outset, choosing India for his first major official visit overseas after his election in 2010. He visited India on three separate occasions during his premiership, often leading large trade delegations encompassing not just business interests but the whole spectrum of political, educational, scientific and cultural relations which connect the world’s largest and oldest democracies. It is quite telling how, in over 700 pages, Cameron is almost more effusive about the importance of India than the historic special relationship with the US.”
“It is clear that Cameron had a more expansive world view and an appreciation of the rise of emerging economies, especially in Asia. He understood the opportunity of harnessing the aspirations of India’s young population to build shared prosperity. Cameron was also sensitive to being “tinged with colonial guilt” and sought to build a genuine partnership of equals.”
Lord Gadhia also praised Cameron’s willingness to build bridges with the Sikh community. He even visited Amritsar which witnessed the worst attack on civilians by British troopers took place.
“For a long time, friends and colleagues in the British Indian community had encouraged me to go to the Golden Temple in Amritsar,” Cameron wrote in For The Record. “ The holiest of Sikh sites had been the scene of a massacre in 1919, when British Indian Army soldiers fired upon a peaceful public meeting, killing hundreds of people.
“No serving prime minister had ever been to Amritsar, let alone expressed regret for what happened. I wanted to change both those things, and would do so after the trade mission – the largest in UK history – I would lead in February 2013. Ahead of my visit there was an internal row about whether I should say ‘sorry’. But ultimately, I felt that expressing regret for what I described in the memorial’s book of condolence as a ‘deeply shameful event in British history’ was appropriate. I knew what it meant to British Sikhs that their prime minister made that gesture, and I’m glad I did so.”
Lord Gadhia said Cameron was surprised to witness the rockstar welcome for Modi at Wembley.
In his memor, Cameron wrote: “Hot on Xi’s heels came the new Indian PM, Narendra Modi. There were several ‘moments’ including the largest ever gathering of the Indian diaspora in the UK at Wembley Stadium. Before introducing Modi, I told the 60, 000 strong crowd that I envisaged a British Indian entering no 10 Downing Street as PM one day. The roar of approval was incredible. And as Modi and I hugged on stage I hoped that this small gesture would be a signal of the open armed eagerness with which Britain approached the world.”
“The high point in the relationship was undoubtedly the event in front of a 60,000 strong crowd at Wembley Stadium, referenced in the memoirs as “the largest-ever gathering of the Indian diaspora in the UK” where Modi received a rousing reception,” said Lord Gadhia. “Cameron obliged with a strong endorsement of Modi, amplifying his election slogan in Hindi: ‘achche din zaroor aayenge’ and was “hugged on stage”. This cemented the personal chemistry, always important between world leaders. Even Manmohan Singh is mentioned in the book as a “saintly man” who was “robust on the threats India faced” and told Cameron that if another terrorist attack like that in Mumbai in July 2011 was repeated then India would have to take military action against Pakistan.”
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