As the results from key state elections emerged in India this week, Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami reflected upon the country’s deeply embedded and unique democratic landscape.
He said: “Democracy continues to flourish in India. It's simply because it is embedded in our DNA. Diversity, linguistic, cultural, religious, even social makes it inconceivable to any Indian citizen that there could be any other way of governing India.
“Is it a quiet social conversation based democracy as it would be say in northern Europe? Certainly not. Democracy in India is Indian style. It is noisy. It is colourful. It is at times sharply contested, but elections are democratic.”
The senior diplomat was delivering an insightful lecture entitled ‘The India We Don’t Know’ at the Global Strategy Forum in London last week.
Tracing India’s incredible growth trajectory since independence in August 1947, Doraiswami laid out the factors that make partnering with India a reality and an imperative for many nations in the form of what he termed as “friend-shoring”.
He shared: “Covid showed us the need for reliable and resilient value chains of production and while re-shoring is an obvious attraction for many countries, not every link in the product or service chain can be re-shored. Hence the value of friend-shoring.
“India is among the larger possible new supply link nations as a global order comes under significant strain and stress… as we stand at a hinge moment today, it seems relevant for all of us, for Global Britain in particular, to look at the Indo-Pacific where the world's global trade, global energy and global future rest as an important area for cooperation between the UK and India.”
The UK, he mused, more than any other country in the world is best placed to interact with India given a “shared history” and capitalise on some obvious synergies in the world of science of technology.
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He pointed out: “If India succeeds in raising hundreds and millions out of poverty into prosperity, with a modest impact on our earth in a democratic framework, that has a beneficial impact to the West, internally and externally.”