David Cameron In India

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I have a new blog...

...you can find it at www.webcameron.org.uk

You can view all my India videos on Webcameron, as well as lots of other content from me, our guests and our members.

This blog is now closed, thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 15, 2006

thanks & goodbye (for now)

Thanks again for all your feedback; I promised to answer some of your questions so here goes. This is my last post here but I will be blogging again soon. Thanks for reading.


Could you outline the reasons why you're opening a JCB plant? (glasshouse)

When JCB heard we were going to India they asked if I would open their new factory. I think it’s incredibly important for politicians to back British businesses investing abroad and to celebrate the fact that a British company is creating jobs and opportunities for people there. The reaction here made me think that the media would only have been happy to celebrate the closure of the plant!

how many trees are you going to plant to counteract your flights and transport? (jenna-appleseed)

We are off-setting all our emissions through Climate Care. As well as planting trees they also invest in renewable energy projects in the developing world. You can read about them here.

Can we have CNG powered taxis and buses in London so that the carcinogenic diesel fumes aren't constantly being pumped out into the London atmosphere? (theinjuredcyclist)

This is definitely an idea worth looking at and I’ve asked our Quality of Life Policy Group to investigate it further. You can follow their work at www.qualityoflifechallenge.com

I recently visited India and I was struck by the massive chasm between the haves and have nots. Should the west be encouraging India to look after it's own poor more? (campbell)

I don’t think India needs any encouragement from us in that direction. While I was there I was struck by how clearly focused on this challenge all the politicians I met were. Their top priority is to help with the of spreading India’s success and opportunities to the many millions who have so far not benefited, especially in rural areas. Of course there’s a lot we can do to help here, as I argued in my speech in Mumbai. We can do more to open trade and investment opportunities to benefit the poor, and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been arguing for a new special relationship between Britain and India.

What are the daily income levels in [the Mumbai] slum? (manfarang)

The average daily income in the Mumbai slum is only 45-50 Rupees (52-58p). Daily income can range from 35-100 Rupees (40p-£1.15). These numbers give some indication of the extreme poverty people there are living in.

Literacy rates in India are only a fraction of those in China, especially for girls. Do you think this poses the biggest problem for the poor? (steve)

This is certainly a huge problem, and I talked about it in my Mumbai speech. Basic literacy is essential for economic empowerment. Interestingly, literacy rates vary enormously within India. The state of Kerala, for example, has a literacy rate of 91%.

Did you talk to many of the people who lived locally in that slum? Obviously it might not be particularly high on their priority list, but if so, did they have any thoughts about globalisation and the ways you had expressed about tackling their sort of conditions? (chris palmer)

Yes I did, I talked to some of the people who were benefiting from the education and skills training provided by the project I visited. It was incredibly inspiring to see how determined they were to take advantage of the opportunity to build a successful life for themselves and their families. They were all focused on developing their potential, so that they could get a decent job and work their way out of their current situation. Although the project I visited only manages to scratch the surface of the huge social and economic problems in that slum, there’s a fantastic sense of hope and optimism.

What do your comments on immigration mean in domestic policy terms? ... Can you clarify your party's line now? (daisy)

My comments had no direct bearing on our own immigration policy, I was talking more about attitudes to globalisation. Damian Green (the shadow immigration minister) is doing some excellent work on our immigration policy and we will have more to say on that in the not-too-distant future.

The real question is can we genuinely open up the trade to India as long as the EU maintains its protectionist approach? (dizzy)

There were lots of questions like this, and it is a sentiment I completely agree with. We have got to press much harder for the EU to open up trade. This is something our party is firmly committed to doing.

I agree that there should be some kind of 'ladder' to help the losers in globalisation - but analogies aside, what will that ladder look like and who's going to pay for it? (sendover)

On the domestic front, the outlines are clear: vastly improved education and training. The situation in countries like India is much more complex: the solution includes education and training but also requires action in a range of other areas, including efforts to tackle killer diseases, and strengthening the institutions that support development, like the legal and financial systems.

Did you have an opportunity to discuss the security situation with the Indians? (vic)

Yes; it was high on the agenda in all my discussions. It was very useful to hear the Indian perspective on this complex challenge that we share.

What has been the highlight of your trip to India? (mohamed sheikh)

There were so many highlights but overall the thing that really stuck in my mind was the way in which India has made a success of its pluralist secular democracy. Funnily enough, it was something on the very last day of the visit, just before we left for the airport, that really brought this home. We were taken on a tour of the Red Fort in Delhi, and the guide pointed out that the architecture is an eclectic mix combining a range of different artistic, religious and cultural influences. It was a vivid demonstration of India’s long heritage of successfully dealing with diversity.

Any chance you could convince Maggie T to start a blog? That would be an interesting read. (in fact, ah)

I’ll be sure to mention it the next time I see her…

are you going to continue blogging here or are planning on starting a new one or will this be the last of your blogging adventures? (amit)

I will most definitely be blogging in future, and I promise you won’t have to wait too long!

I would like to ask if blogging has taught you anything? What do you think of it now that you have tried it? And is it something you are going to look at in the future? Should our Party embrace it more? (mike)

Blogging has been a real revelation. It’s been so exciting for me to feel I can talk directly to you through words and video. Even more exciting was logging on and seeing all your comments day by day. I’ve got no doubt it will be a central part of our activities over the next few years. The challenge for me personally will be to build in enough diary time to do it properly.…

Friday, September 08, 2006

back in the office

Back in the office today - what a contrast from the last few days. I've recorded a quick message which you can see below, but not much time today as I'm working on my speech for Monday. It's the 5th anniversary of 9/11 and I'm going to be setting out our approach to foreign policy and fighting international terrorism. Haven't seen my family for days so don't want the weekend to be ruined by speechwriting...

As I mentioned in my last post, there's lots more great stuff which we recorded in India but I'm not sure when I'll have time to put it up.

Best thing is to check the blog on Monday morning and by then I will have answered some of your questions and perhaps put up some more videos.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

a ride on the delhi metro

Just time to post this before leaving: I'm flying home on Jet Airways, a fantastic Indian success story - and I saw another transport success story yesterday when I went for a ride on the new Delhi Metro. There were loads of photographers and cameramen from the Indian media so the whole thing was a bit of a scrum, as you'll see...

Over the next few days, I'll post some more videos for you - including this morning's visit to the Gandhi memorial and a tour of the Red Fort with a tour guide who was absolutely brilliant - a real character. I'm sorry there hasn't been time to get everything up on the blog straight away.

I'll also try to catch up with your comments, answer as many of your questions as I can and perhaps record some final reflections on the trip.

Thanks for watching.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

going green in a delhi tuk-tuk

Arrived in Delhi late last night and it's been a hectic day, and another late night.

This morning we went to meet students at the Indian Institute of Technology, I had a meeting and lunch with the Prime Minister, meetings with other political leaders including Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul - who's now a politician in his own right - then a visit to see the amazing new Delhi Metro system, and dinner with business and political leaders at the British High Commission.

With the government seeming to be in meltdown back home, the BBC and ITN wanted a quote from me so we had a fairly ridiculous time driving round trying to meet up with their film crews in the dark in the middle of Delhi. We found each other in the end so I hope they got what they needed for the evening news...and if there's time later on we might upload some video of me talking about Blair and Brown the other day in the car.

But have a look at this clip from today, it's a great example of going green, and will surprise anyone who thinks that it's only places like California that are leading the green revolution.

globalisation speech

This clip is a three minute edited summary of David Cameron's speech in Mumbai last night on the challenges of globalisation. It was not posted by David.

Economic empowerment in the Mumbai slums

I'm sorry I couldn't post a video yesterday: over the next couple of days I hope I'll be able to update you more regularly.

I've had a quick look at your comments - they're great and I'll try to reply to some of the specific questions later. Someone said they hoped I wasn't being shielded from the reality of poverty in India today: the video clip on this post should reassure you. (Although not the guy who seems to have a problem with my hair.)

Yesterday morning, before the news of the minibus accident, I visited the Bandra Community Empowerment Programme in Dyaneshwar Nagar, one of around 500 slums in Mumbai. Many of the people living there are unemployed or underemployed; others work as auto rickshaw drivers, labourers on construction sites, domestic help and so on. Their low earnings and poor education - especially amongst the women - means there are high levels of debt, made worse by the monopoly of money lenders who charge high interest rates. Lack of access to proper medical care leads to high rates of TB, dysentery and HIV/AIDS.

Visiting the project was an incredibly sobering experience. I was thinking about the speech I was due to make on globalisation later that day. As you'll see when I post some clips from the speech later on, one of the ideas I'm trying to get across is that while globalisation, open markets and economic liberalisation bring huge benefits and have helped to reduce poverty massively, we've got to do more to mend the broken bottom rungs on the ladder from poverty to wealth. We need to match economic liberalism with economic empowerment, to give everyone the chance to share in the opportunities of globalisation.

This project in Mumbai is a vivid example of economic empowerment in action. It's incrediby inspiring, and you can find out more about the organisation behind the programme at www.oasisindia.org

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Minibus accident in Mumbai

Just as I was about to go into a lunchtime meeting in Mumbai today, I received some terrible news. A British High Commission minibus driving journalists covering our visit, two members of my team, and High Commission staff, hit a woman who is now critically ill in hospital.

We’re all deeply shocked by this dreadful accident and I know that the High Commission is co-operating very closely with the police to help them with their investigation, and is doing all it can to help the victim and her family

Monday, September 04, 2006

elephants, dancing girls and dancing diggers

Thanks to everyone who's commented on the blog…some more than others…

Unfortunately time doesn’t allow me to post replies but the feedback is great so please keep it coming and stay tuned!

Today was great, if a bit surreal. Straight off the plane, met up with George Osborne who's been in Japan, and off we went to open JCB's new factory in Pune, a couple of hours from Mumbai.

As MPs, we get asked to open factories all the time. But nothing quite like this...have a look!