India, Britain need to move ahead: Tony Blair

November 22nd, 2008 - 5:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) India and Britain need to move ahead and not live in the past, former British prime minister Tony Blair said here Saturday.”Neither of us can live in the past. In the eyes of the future, the old days of Britain are much less interesting than the new days of India,” he said while addressing the HT Leadership Summit on “Leadership in a Globalised World”.

Britain, too, was searching “for its place in these new times”, he added.

“Today, as the British come to terms with being a small island of 60 million people off mainland Europe; when we know that (in another 50 years) India and China will have bigger economies than Europe or America and each will have a population bigger than both combined, we must think our way through these times not with nostalgic regret but with unsentimental rigour,” Blair maintained.

He began his address on a nostalgic note, recalling that his “fascination and love” for India began not when he visited this “extraordinary and beautiful country” almost two decades ago but at Oxford, where an Indian postgraduate student shaped his first political thoughts “and planted the intellectual seeds that later grew into New Labour”.

Pointing out that he had made it a “priority” of his premiership to “revitalise and renew the Britain-India relationship for the modern era”, Blair added: “I am proud of the state of that relationship today.

“And now, shorn of office, I have a new Indian connection. My youngest son Leo, aged 8, has a best friend whose father is Indian.

“We stand, as we did the other morning, in the school playground waiting for the day’s lessons to begin. He has educated Leo about cricket. He has bestowed on me a relentless and seemingly inexhaustible supply of Indian jokes.

“I have an uneasy feeling these may be deeply, politically incorrect; so I won’t repeat any,” Blair said amidst much laughter.

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