Indo-Asian News Service, Brussels, March 3, 2006
India will lose out economically to China if it does not weed out widespread corruption and invest heavily in infrastructure, a top European analyst has warned.
Fraser Cameron, a senior policy adviser at the European Policy Centre (EPC), a think tank in Brussels, said that India had a lot of problems to overcome.
India should engage in a significant and strategic partnership with the European Union (EU), if it wanted to compete with China.
"India has to deal with the genuine problems of red tape which are a handicap to foreign investment. There is too much corruption which is not being dealt with and the infrastructure requires huge investment if India is to become a major actor."
He said China had been much more efficient at cutting its red tape than India.
"The reality is that China has been more successful in providing an environment where businesses want to invest."
Cameron said the EU’s partnership with China was greater largely because it has been successful in winning greater foreign direct investment.
The EU’s trade to India is only one-fifth of its overall trade volumes to China.
He also said that the EU and India needed to do much more to enhance their strategic partnership.
The two sides did not necessarily see eye to eye on important security and international developments.
"The EU does not have much to offer in terms of Indian priorities," said Cameron.
Cameron heads the Political and Academic Affairs section in the Delegation of the European Commission in Washington before his current post.
Despite the fact that the two countries made a quantum leap in their relations through the signing of a comprehensive India-EU strategic Partnership Action Plan last year, a lot more needed to be done, he said.
"The EU’s support for a seat for India on the UN Security Council is divided, and a minority of the EU member states don’t see why India should be rewarded with a seat on the Nuclear Suppliers Group," Cameron said.
But he quickly added that he felt the EU’s position was wrong on both issues.
"I think that the EU has a strategic interest in a reformed Security Council with India as a member along with Japan and possibly Brazil," he said.
Cameron added, "The EU also should recognise that India is a nuclear power."
India did not really accept the EU agenda in terms of soft power, human rights and security issues, he said.
"We’re really talking past each other on security terms."
Cameron, who visited New Delhi recently, suggested policy solutions that would encourage a significant EU-India engagement.
"I think we need to adjust our thinking about foreign policy.
"The EU should be more interested in power relationships and be able to understand that the attitudes of foreign and security policy planners in Delhi, Beijing are different from how Brussels sees the world."
Cameron stressed that most Indians went either to Britain or to the US to pursue higher education.
He said it was time Europe opened up its universities to Indians for more natural interaction in the fields of technology and scientific research.
In reply to a question on the perception that EU policies were aligned with those of the US, Cameron replied it was India’s foreign policy that was more aligned with that of Washington.
"It is India that is aligning itself with the US on issues," he said.
"There are pro-American positions, and from the European perspective we see New Delhi and Washington are very much on the same line."