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British Prime Minister David Cameron's speech at Infosys in India

A transcript of a speech given by the Prime Minister in Bangalore, India, on 28 July 2010.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A transcript of a speech given by the Prime Minister in Bangalore, India, on 28 July 2010.

Thank you very much for that wonderful introduction. I think there was a politician who once said, ‘Having heard myself being introduced, I can’t wait to hear myself speak.’ I rather feel like that! You are right, I do have an iPad; I won’t reveal exclusively all the things I have on it - they are mostly things that my children like to use.

It is a great honour to be invited here today. If Bangalore is the city that symbolises India’s reawakening, then Infosys has a good claim to be the company that does the same thing. There is an energy and a passion about this place that I have to say I find completely awe-inspiring. This is my third visit to your country; I came once before I was a politician, I came once when I was leader of the opposition, and I now return as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

It is a great privilege to extend to you and through you to the people of India the hand of friendship from all of the British people. I am a new Prime Minister, I lead a new coalition government, and we are making a new start for Britain and its relationships around the world. There are partnerships we want to create, friendships we want to elevate and dialogues we want to extend.

So I come here with a very clear purpose: to show what this new start means for our two countries. I want to take the relationship between India and Britain to the next level. I want to make it stronger, wider, and deeper. To show how serious I am I have brought with me the biggest visiting delegation of any British Prime Minister in recent years. Members of my Cabinet, our most dynamic business leaders, leaders of industry, social entrepreneurs, civic leaders, figures from our most forward-looking arts institutions and museums, sports men and women, and pioneers of community activism.

Today I want to make the case for this relationship, I want to explain why India is so important to Britain’s future and I want to tell Indians watching what Britain has to offer them. I want to set out the common challenges we must meet together in the years ahead. I do all this knowing that this country has the whole world beating a path to your door. I understand that Britain cannot rely on sentiment or on shared history for a place in India’s future, and I hope today and throughout this visit you will see the strength of my commitment and the scale of my ambition for this new relationship.

So why is your country important for Britain’s future? The most obvious reason is economic. There is still a development road to travel, but thanks to the reform process begun by Dr Manmohan Singh in the 1990s, the Indian tiger has been uncaged and its power can be felt around the world. You feel it in the fantastic new airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad, in Mumbai’s Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the Delhi metro, and in Delhi’s stunning new airport terminal.

We can feel that power back home in Britain too. The Tata Group is now the largest manufacturer employer in Britain, and more than 180 Indian companies have invested in our IT sector. At the same time India represents an enormous opportunity for British companies; already our trade relationship is worth £11.5 billion a year, but I want us to go further. India plans to invest $500 billion in infrastructure in the coming years. That is, of course, good for Indian business but it is also a chance for British companies to generate growth.

Your retail market is growing by 25% annually and there is no reason why British companies should not be part of that too. India is adding 15 million new mobile phone users every month. British companies can play an even greater role in providing services to the Indian consumer and creating jobs in India and back in the UK.

So I want this to be a relationship which drives economic growth upwards and drives our unemployment figures downwards. This is a trade mission, yes, but I prefer to see it as my jobs mission. Indian companies employ 90,000 people in the UK and many more jobs in Britain exist thanks to the activities of British companies in India. Now I want to see thousands more jobs created in Britain and, of course, in India through trade in the months and years ahead. That is the core purpose of my visit. At the height of the industrial revolution in the United States, they said, ‘Go west, young man, in order to find opportunity and fortune.’ For today’s investors and entrepreneurs they should go east.

But this country matters to Britain for many reasons beyond your economy too. With over 700 million voters and three million elected representatives at council level, your democracy is a beacon to our world. You have wonderful tradition of democratic secularism; home to dozens of faiths and hundreds of languages, people are free to be Muslim, Hindu or Sikh and to speak Marathi, Punjabi or Tamil. But, at the same time, and without any contradiction, they are all Indian too.

India matters to the world because it is not only a rising power but a responsible power as well. You provide significant support to Afghanistan which we welcome, and your programmes in Nepal and Bhutan are vital. You are a leading provider of peacekeeping troops to the United Nations, and as I saw for myself at the G20 in Canada, your Prime Minister has personally provided great intellectual leadership in economic matters. That is why the time has come for India to take the seat it deserves at the United Nations Security Council.

So these are the reasons why India matters to Britain, but why should Britain matter to India? I believe our two countries are natural partners; Britain is one of the oldest democracies and India is the world’s largest. We have a shared commitment to pluralism and to tolerance; we have deep and close connections amongst our people, with nearly two million people of Indian origin living in the UK. They make an enormous contribution to our country - way out of proportion to their size - in business, in the arts, in sport.

India and Britain also share so much culturally; whether it’s watching Shari Kahn, eating the same food, speaking the same language, and of course watching the same sport. Many of you in this room will have grown up revering and watching Kapil Dev; I did the same in Britain watching Ian Botham. And Sachin Tendulkar, the Little Master, is so talented that wherever you are from, you cannot help but admire as he hits another century. Indeed, culture is so important to our relationship that it is going to be a significant part of what I talk to Prime Minister Singh about tomorrow.

There are huge attractions to Britain as this century progresses; Britain, yes, still has the strengths of our history, not least our democracy, our rule of law, our strong institutions and our global language. But there is also the modern dynamism of the nation that helped pioneer the internet, that helped unravel DNA, and whose music, films and television are admired the world over.

We are also in the time zone that lets you talk to Asia in the morning and America in the evening. We are still the world’s sixth largest manufacturer and the best base for companies wanting to do business in Europe. We have some of the best universities in the world and we are a great hub for science and for innovation.

That is why so much of what we are announcing on this trip I believe is so exciting. UK and India research funders have committed up to £60 million worth of jointly funded research into climate change, water and food security, and disease prevention. British and Indian scientists will collaborate on £2 million worth of research that will help nuclear power stations in our countries to be safer, more efficient and produce less waste, and the Welcome Trust has announced £45 million of research with the Indian Department of Biotechnology on affordable healthcare.

It is for all of these reasons that I believe it makes sense for both of us to elevate our relationship to new heights. But this isn’t just about Britain and India; this is a relationship that can benefit the world. The way I see it, there are three major global challenges that we have a duty to meet together, challenges that should shape our relationship.

The first is economic. In the past couple of years, we have seen nothing less than global economic carnage: collapsed banks, massive government deficits, huge unemployment lines, tumbling currencies, trade dented, businesses lost, livelihoods destroyed. In Britain, we suffered our longest and deepest recession since the Second World War and are now trying to get to grips with our highest-ever peacetime deficit. In India, exports fell, capital left the country, and growth slowed.

So as we emerge from this crisis, we both have to ask ourselves: how can we continue to spread economic opportunity for all our people? We come at this from different angles. The Indian story is well-known. There is still a huge challenge but on any measure India is on its way, a rising economic power. On any measure, India is on an upward trajectory. We in Britain are determined to work even harder to earn our living: attracting more foreign investment to our shores, making more things for the world again, selling ourselves to the world with more vigour than ever. I’m not ashamed to say that’s one of the reasons why I’m here today.

So let me set out what I believe should be our common strategy for economic growth. Our strategy must begin with making our economies as open as possible. Within 50 days of coming into power, our new coalition government introduced an emergency budget. Its aim was explicit - to show Britain was open for business. And its methods were equally clear - cutting red tape, reducing corporation tax rates, and, crucially, improving our infrastructure. Both India and Britain are in the same boat here. We both need to update and modernise our infrastructure.

So I’m delighted that Vince Cable, our Business Secretary, has signalled that we will have much closer cooperation on infrastructure in the years ahead, sharing knowledge and expertise on transport and energy. These changes are about making our countries the best places in the world to business, and it’s in that context that we should encourage more investment by Indian companies in Britain and vice versa. Both of us already benefit. JCB, BAE, Cairn, Standard Chartered, Mott McDonald, Wipro, Religare, HCL, Infosys - these are just some of the companies who do business across our countries.

But I want to see more Indians setting up in Britain and more Brits setting up here. There are some important things we can do straight away, and I’m going to be discussing them with Prime Minister Singh tomorrow. Science and Innovation Scholarships, sponsored by Rolls Royce. Extending the successful UK-India Education and Research Initiative. Encouraging the twinning of our top universities with the 14 new Innovation universities India plans to create.

Education is not just vital for national success; it is one of the best growth businesses of the 21st century. I want us in Britain and India to pool some of our advantages for our mutual benefit. And will that mean that more Indian students will want to trade with Britain, set up businesses in Britain, partner with Britain? I certainly hope so. But the real prize will come when we take some difficult decisions. There are no two ways about this: we’ve got to take on the vested interests and open up. We in Britain have welcomed your expertise in cars and in steel production. But we want you to reduce the barriers to foreign investment in banking, insurance, defence manufacturing and legal services so that we can both reap the benefits.

More investment in each others’ economies will be a vital boost to both our countries, but so too will trade. Again, on trade there are some relatively simple steps we can take, like streamlining customs red tape to save time and money, and we’re committed to it. Other things will take more time and effort, but are absolutely crucial. EU-India trade is worth £50 billion a year, but the possibility is there for dramatic expansion and I believe we should seize it. I’m determined that we conclude an EU and India Free Trade Agreement before the end of this year. And it’s time to hammer out a global deal on world trade. Agree on Doha, and do you know how much we would add to the world economy? $170 billion.

So what’s holding us back? I would like us to complete the Doha Development Round as it is. Let’s be clear: right now, negotiations are not moving. So those of us who want passionately to see progress must now make the case for trade at the tops of our voices.

One way that I believe we can do so is by establishing a high-level group of the best minds and strongest advocates for trade to point the way forward, including at the next G20 summit. I believe we will all need to show greater ambition. We need to make the deal bigger in order to make progress. In the meantime we must make changes where we can. Trade facilitation - improving our ports, processes and customs - simple things but they can clear the way to much greater economic growth and we do not have to wait for Doha to do that. If we do these things, we will take such a giant leap towards meeting the economic challenge of our age.

The second challenge we must meet together is ensuring global security. Five years ago, 52 people were killed on the tube and on a bus in London. And in November 2008, we watched in horror as terrorists went on the rampage in Mumbai, killing scores of Indians and three British nationals. As you know, we worked with your government in the investigation into these events. We remain determined that those responsible must be brought to justice. And I am here today to propose an even closer security relationship between India and Britain. The terrorists we face are adept at crossing borders, communicating globally, and concocting the most abhorrent plans to destroy our way of life. It’s only by increasing the ties between us that we can defeat them.

So I want us to broaden our counterterrorism partnership, including looking at new areas such as cyber security and the financing of terrorism. This year, Delhi hosts the Commonwealth Games. In two years, London hosts the Olympic Games. It makes sense that we work together to make sure both are as safe and successful as possible through close cooperation with the Delhi police and the London Metropolitan police.

And I want us to go further in expanding our security cooperation. When it comes to defence technology, India and Britain have a lot to offer each other in terms of sharing expertise. And we have a proven track record of being prepared to share it, as with the building of Jaguar and Hawk aircraft in this city in recent decades. I want to see more and I’m going to be visiting HAL next to talk about what more we can do in this crucial sector.

Of course, when it comes to protecting our people, we cannot overlook what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Let me state clearly: your relations with those two countries are a matter for you and you alone. But let me also say we, like you, want a Pakistan that is stable, democratic and free from terror. We, like you, want an Afghanistan that is secure, free from interference from its neighbours and not a threat to our security. We, like you, are determined that groups like the Taliban, the Haqqani network or Lakshar e Taiba should not be allowed to launch attacks on Indian and British citizens in India or in Britain. Neither should they be able to do so against our people, whether soldiers or civilians, from both our countries who are working for peace in Afghanistan. Our interests are your interests, so let us work together to realise them.

The third challenge we must meet, and we must meet it together, is tackling climate change. Fail to act now and we are looking down the barrel of catastrophic floods, intense heat waves and droughts. Physical geography will start to dictate human geography, climate change exacerbating waves of migration, of poverty, and of hunger. In fact, nowhere are the risks from climate change more apparent than here in India - with over half a billion people on the Ganges Plain and much more of your agriculture dependent on water from the Himalayas and a reliable monsoon. So the time for decisive action is long overdue.

The United Kingdom has already reduced carbon emissions by more than 20% from 1990 levels, and our new government has been taking radical steps to de-carbonise and build a greener economy. But unilateral action can only take us so far. Climate change does not respect borders: what is sown in one part of the world is reaped the world over. That’s why we need global action, with all the major economies playing their part. That has to start at government level.

Getting an international agreement on climate change is now a matter of urgency. I know this poses difficult questions, not least questions of what is fair. It’s only fair that those with the longest history of carbon emissions play the biggest part. But it does have to be a global effort. So as we look towards Cancun, let’s sit down and thrash out what a global agreement on climate change could look like.

As well as that, I want to see the UK and India working at a business and research level too. I am convinced that in no time at all, we will see new cars that are really fuel efficient, new sources of energy that are affordable, new products that will change the way we live. These will not only help protect our planet, but they will bring with them jobs, investment and money. The question is: who’s going to make them? Why not us? Already British and Indian companies are building solar panels right here in Bangalore. And Indian manufacturers are working on the next generation of electric cars in Britain. But we must go further.

Tomorrow I’m going to be talking to Prime Minister Singh about how we can work together to develop and deploy new and renewable energy sources, in particular to reach some of India’s poorest communities. If we get this right, it will be a triple win: clean energy, electricity brought to poorest people, new jobs and growth. And it’s precisely the sort of cooperation we need as we move forward in this relationship.

By forging business links together, by tackling threats to our security together and by taking on the challenge of climate change together we can raise our relationship to new heights. But if that relationship is made only by diplomats, politicians and entrepreneurs, it will not last. A relationship with genuine meaning will be one that brings together people from every line of work and every walk of life: teachers, doctors, nurses, people from rural areas and city dwellers, young and old, men and women, rich and poor. We’re living in an age when a deeper friendship between our countrymen and women is not only desirable but is actually possible. The internet tears down the barriers that keep people apart, and there is the common currency of culture we enjoy the world over.

To my mind globalisation should be about more than the trade of goods and services; it must be about the trading of experiences and stories between friends on opposite sides of the world and our countries can set the example. That’s why today we are launching a new network to bring together the next generation of British and Indian leaders. There will be politicians - they always seem to turn up everywhere, yes - but there will be entrepreneurs, scientists, people in the media and dynamic young people from both our countries, brought together to find solutions to the challenges we face. I hope that by the time of the next UK-India summit they will be coming back to us buzzing with ideas and inspiration which both government and the private sector can act on.

But above all, I hope this builds the human relationships that will sustain the relationship between our countries. Everything I have spoken about today - an enhanced relationship and a shared determination to take on these challenges that confront us - these are not borne from sentiment. I’m a practical politician. I believe when the problems are serious, we should tackle them. When the answer is obvious, we should do it. That is why I’m here.

The problems are serious: economic crisis, global insecurity, climate change. And the answer is obvious: India and Britain coming together. Indira Gandhi once said that her grandfather told her this. ‘There are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. Be in the first group; there’s much less competition.’ The truth is this: we cannot leave our prosperity, our security and the future of our planet to chance. We must be the ones to act and we must act together. Together Britain and India can do the work that is needed. Together our partnership can benefit the world. So together, let us build this new relationship that can meet the scale of our great ambitions together. Thank you.

Thank you very much. We have got some time for questions.


Good afternoon, sir. I am a student from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and I also have my own company in the clean-energy site. I just wanted to ask you: it’s really fantastic to see that the UK is promoting so much, but what I have been seeing is that there is very little which is coming from the UK to India, or from India to the UK. In India there is a maximum potential for climate-change reduction, so it does not make sense to have technology somewhere else and the need somewhere else. So, how do you plan to address that?

Prime Minister

It’s a very good question, and it’s one of the reasons why I brought my Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, to India with me, and he is looking at signing an agreement with the Indian government about how, as I was just saying, we can look at renewable energy technologies that we can develop together and work in our two countries to solve this problem. In Britain, we do have one big advantage that we hope to take and then share with others, which is the technology of carbon capture and storage. We still have coal reserves, we have coal-fired power stations, and we have the North Sea, where depleted oil and gas fields are the perfect place to store the sequestered carbon dioxide.

So, we believe we can have a technology leadership on this, developed through some of our best universities like Edinburgh and East Anglia, that are doing incredible work on carbon capture and storage. That’s the sort of technology we can then share, and export and invest with other countries. The specific thing Greg and his team are looking at now are renewable energies that can be off the electricity grid - small scale hydro, wind power, wave power, also solar power - that can enable communities to take more control of their own lives without necessarily being connected up to the grid. The modern energy technologies enable us to do this on a small scale rather than just thinking of the big scale energy projects of the past. So, if you’re disappointed now there isn’t more collaboration, one of the reasons for being here is to make sure that it happens in the future.


Mr Prime Minister, can I ask you about your position on outsourcing of government technology work to India? We hear that some of the contracts that have been signed by the previous government have been re-looked at.

Prime Minister

In terms of the theory of outsourcing contracts, I think you will find Britain one of the most open, globalised economies that is prepared to look at outsourcing and ownership right across the world. If you look at other European economies, I think you would be hard pressed to find another economy that is happy to welcome so many overseas companies to come and invest in businesses or provide services in the UK. That I think applies in government outsourcing as it does elsewhere. Of course, an incoming government has to look at every contract in terms of cost and value for money, and we have a huge budget deficit. One of the biggest tasks of my government is to make sure that we can live within our means again.

So yes, we are reviewing contracts, and we are looking at what we pay for the services that we receive. Just like any business, if you take over at a time when costs are running high and revenues are running low, you’ve got to get the costs down and you’ve got to get the revenues up. That’s why we are cutting costs at home, and that’s why we are here in India promoting business and investment. In terms of being open to outsourcing, to working with companies like Infosys, you’ll find Britain one of the most open and progressive countries there is.


You said Pakistan is going to be an important discussion that you are going to have with the Prime Minister of India, but the kind of leakage of funds that the US and the UK have been giving to Pakistan in the last couple of years has now exposed that we need to rethink the strategy with Pakistan. Is that going to be a discussion that you will be having with the Prime Minister as well?

Prime Minister

That is absolutely a discussion that I will have with Dr Manmohan Singh, and it is also a discussion I had last week with President Obama, and also had meetings in the Pentagon to discuss this point, which is that we should be very clear with Pakistan that we want to see a strong and a stable and a democratic Pakistan, but we cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able in any way to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world. That’s why this relationship is important, but it should be a relationship based on a very clear message that it is not right, as I said in my speech, to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror. Democratic states that want to be part of the developed world cannot do that, and the message to Pakistan from the US and from the UK is very clear on that point.

Can I thank you all very much for coming, and can I thank Infosys again for hosting me at this wonderful venue. The visit to this business just brings home to me in a very clear way the enormous opportunities there are for British-Indian business cooperation. I think also it is a great business to come to, because if anybody thinks that somehow the Indian economy is just about large call centres, or projects like that, to come here and see the extent and brilliance of your technology and your expertise shows what a thoroughly modern partnership I believe that our businesses and our countries can have. I see this as rather like at the end of Casablanca: I hope this is the start of a beautiful relationship. Thank you very much indeed.

Updates to this page

Published 28 July 2010