M A I N   N E W S

UK gives £825 m aid for health, education
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 20
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today announced another £825 million aid package for development in India over the next three years. Of the aid, up to £500 million is expected to be spent on health and education.

Brown arrived in India today hailing relations between the two countries as a “partnership of equals” and supported India’s bid for permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council as well as a more prominent role of New Delhi in G-8.

India and Britain are on the same page on almost all political, security and economic issues.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to convey through diplomatic symbolism India’s vibrant relations with this P5 country when he hosted a private dinner for Brown today. A select group of officials from either side was present at the dinner at 7, Race Course Road. The two Prime Ministers are scheduled to hold the fourth India-UK Summit tomorrow evening at Hyderabad House.

The two leaders are expected to discuss coordination on counter-terrorism measures in the light of attacks on mass transit systems on both countries, as well as strategies to arrest climate change. Besides, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan are set to figure prominently in the talks along with United Nations reforms, educational tie-ups and possible collaboration on development projects in Africa.

Brown favoured India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations and said India should be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. He also pitched for India’s prominent role in the G-8.

Brown called for greater international cooperation in the fight against terrorism as he arrived here at the start of a two-day visit. He said he wanted greater cooperation in winning the battle of “hearts and minds” and also more concrete measures, including financial cooperation from emerging countries such as India to block off funds for terror groups.

He said Britain, India and other countries could work more closely on tackling extremism, by better information sharing between security services and use of technology at ports and airports.

Brown, speaking before talks with Manmohan Singh, told reporters: “I think every country in the world will look at how it can do more to strengthen its resolve and strengthen the weapons it can use in the fight against terrorism.”

The British Prime Minister said he was keen to use the two-day visit to build on existing economic, cultural and educational ties and forge closer partnerships on tackling climate change and global extremism.

“I’m here to celebrate a partnership of equals: India and Britain; two confident, 21st century economies; the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy, working together for common objectives,” he told reporters.

“I’m here to build stronger and strengthened relations between our two countries.” Brown, while speaking at an entrepreneurship summit here earlier in the day, said there was no future without India, which is a fast-moving economy. Britain also announced the setting up of a network for providing venture capital funds to Indian entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses.

“I announce here today and I hope that it may be of interest to many of you who want to start their own businesses that we are creating a new network which would provide venture capital funds,” Brown said. He said it would help a new generation of Indian entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses to get access to capital, which sometimes was not available.

He said the venture capital fund would be for “ideas in India which can be developed in Britain and ideas in Britain, which can be developed in India”. Britain is India’s fourth-largest trading partner, accounting for 3.56 per cent of India’s foreign trade in 2006-07. Britain is also the largest investor in India, while India is the second-largest investor in Britain, according to official Indian figures. Brown was due to sign a new higher education deal and launch a scheme to train 7,50,000 more English teachers in India over the next five years as part of a plan to make English the world’s language of choice.



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