Kolkata: Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday said India is fortunate to have a leadership with a clear vision, but greater focus is needed on developing skills and infrastructure.
“India is fortunate to have a leadership with a clear vision. When I met Prime Minister Modi, I saw he had deeply thought about long-term problems,” Cameron said in reply to a question at the Annual General Meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce here.
Earlier, in his speech, Cameron lauded Modi’s flagship programme ‘Skill India’ but pointed out that such goals cannot be achieved by the government initiatives alone.
He recalled that India-Britain relationship was one of the priorities during his premiership, and hoped India would continue to open up.
Terming India as the land of opportunities which has one of the fastest growing economy of its size, Cameron said the prosperity of countries like India and the UK depends upon markets to operate and enterprises to flourish.
“Britain became a successful economy through its desire to trade, invest, sell and innovate, while India, by setting its enterprise free, was able to lift 150 million people out of poverty in just two decades.
“India is one of the largest economy and is said to be one of the fastest growing economy of its size… for its further development the country should focus more on development of infrastructure and skill development,” he said.
Noting that there was a growing pressure to break trade barriers, Cameron suggested India remain focused on the ‘possibilities’ and determine its policies accordingly.
Cameron termed protectionism and isolationism in trade as major barriers to a country’s growth and stressed on the importance of free trade between nations for sustainable economic development.
“Such tendencies perceive free trade as a bad thing. It is as if someone at some point is winning, and so another person has to be losing. But it does not necessarily have to be that way. Free trade is the key to a nation’s success,” he said.
“No one in the G20 invests more in India than the UK and there is no bigger foreign investor in the UK than India. We are proud of that because we benefit from each other’s success,” he pointed out.
Talking about the US-China trade war, Cameron said instead of starting a trade war, the UK aims to trade more with the communist giant and have a better business relationship.
Citing the example of South Korea that imparts skill training to 98 per cent of its students compared with 68 per cent in the UK and just two per cent in India, Cameron said countries like India and the UK need to invest more in skills development.
Cameron also hoped that India would soon become a member of the United Nations Security Council.