Gordon Brown spent ten years as Chancellor of the Exchequer before finding time to visit India. It has taken him a little over six months to grace the subcontinent with his Prime Ministerial presence. The importance of India, on the political and economic stages, has grown at rapid speed.
He is also acknowledging that Britain, and the rest of the developed world, needs India to play an ever-larger part in world affairs. Mr Brown’s contribution to global diplomacy is still in its infancy. But he has vigorously supported reform of international institutions such as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund . . .
He will also urge that India be awarded permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. This is essential not only to ensure the future legitimacy of the UN but to encourage India’s meaningful engagement in the world. The Security Council needs additional members to sustain and enhance its power, and relevance, now the Cold War has receded into history. India has shown that, if it had additional responsibility, it would use it wisely . . .
If India joined the Security Council, Pakistan would, doubtless, be aggrieved . . . Yet India is an invaluable voice of calm within its region . . . It could, and should, represent developing world concerns . . . Adding India’s name to the Security Council would serve to recognise its internal economic, and political achievements. India has lived largely at peace with itself, as a functioning democracy, since gaining independence.
India’s rapidly emerging economic importance provides Mr Brown with extra reason to visit. If reform of international institutions is on the agenda, Mr Brown could usefully turn his attention to the World Trade Organisation. WTO talks have become synonymous with tedious inactivity. No one should lose sight of the human goods than come as a result of freer trade. India is representing developing world concerns in this sphere. If Mr Brown could facilitate movement on WTO negotiations, he would deserve praise. India has much protectionist legislation to repeal.
Indian businesses are snapping up companies around the world, particularly in the UK. While companies such as Corus and Land Rover are being taken over by Indian firms, British businesses, notably in the service sector, are barred from operating in India. India is right to demand a seat at the top table of the great powers. But if it wants to set the rules in world affairs, it must also play by them in the international economy.
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