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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.…