Britain anoints India a superpower on Republic Day

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : India is already a superpower, says Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

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“My thoughts on the 60th anniversary of the Indian Constitution is that in one particular way India is a superpower already,” Miliband told a massive gathering of the Indian diaspora here Tuesday.

“India is a superpower in its soft power, a superpower in the soft force of its democracy, and superpower in its intellectual advance and a super poser in the world of business,” said Miliband, standing in for Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a celebration of the 61st Republic Day.

“Six hundred thousand qualified engineers emerge form India’s tertiary education every year. Just think of the remarkable breakthrough of (2009 chemistry Nobel laureate) Prof Venkatraman Ramakrishnan in fighting bacterial infections.”

Miliband’s comments were greeted with loud applause from the gathered hundreds of Indian-origin leaders at the celebration at London’s Grosvenor Hotel.

They included leaders from the worlds of business, politics, charities and the arts as well as major British politicians and Indian guests, including Minister for Surface Transport Kamal Nath, industrialist Mukesh Ambani, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chairperson of the Hindustan Times Group Shobhana Bhartia and broadcaster Barkha Dutt.

“Who would have thought that India is now a greater investor in Britain than Britain would be in India, as a tribute to your success,” said Miliband.

The British foreign minister said India is also a “superpower in the world of culture”.

“I say this with some sense of regret that the Indian premier league is so successful that England’s greatest cricketers want to appear in the IPL rather than play for England.

“That’s an example of India’s soft power,” he said, borrowing a phrase from Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.

Miliband said India was leading the way in the global search for an “inclusive form of development”, marked by environmental sustainability, cultural tolerance and “a politically liberal model”.

“This search is made more possible by the remarkable modernisation that is taking place in India today. India’s progress shows that modernisation can be distinctive.

“The modern march to independence has now been matched by the modern march to prosperity and the modern march to justice.”

The dinner at the Grosvenor capped a day of Republic Day events, including a presentation on India’s economy by Ahluwalia and a panel discussion at the London School of Economics chaired by Dutt for the launch of Rajya Sabha MP N.K. Singh’s book “Not By Reason Alone: The Politics of Change”.