The British Prime Minister David Cameron recently made a quick two-day visit to India. He stuffed a 747 full of business leaders and made it clear from the start that India is now seen by the UK government as a key partner, a place to really do business for the future.
There is a sense of Cameron being somewhat humble in his approach. India has always appeared rather poor and needy to richer nations such as the UK, and in this particular case there is the shared relationship of the British colonisation of India over several hundred years – ending only in 1947.
Commentators are generally talking of India having the upper hand, a large and young population, fast economic growth having avoided the global economic meltdown, and a well entrenched democracy. Britain is slipping down the world rankings fast as it comes to term with the reality of being a small European nation, rather than a global leader.
But I think there is more to share than initially meets the eye. India still needs a huge amount of British experience and knowledge more than many will admit. And the British need to trade on their special relationship with India more than many there will admit. India is a market and powerhouse for this century and the British Prime Minister knows that. If he succeeds in making the UK the favourite place for Indians to do business – after the USA – then he will enjoy strong trade flows for many decades to come.