Welcome to the Labour Friends of India (LFIN) blog hosted on BarryGardiner.com. This section contains articles published by Barry Gardiner MP and Labour Friends of India.
Labour Friends of India is a Labour organisation created over ten years ago to further links between the Labour Party and India and to get the UK Indian community engaged in British Politics.
The work LFIN members do falls into three broad categories:
1. Policy and research – We work with the Labour Party to develop and move forwards policy which recognises India's role in the world, and the importance of the UK-India relationship to both countries. We provide Labour MPs and policy makers with briefings and resources to this end.
2. Trade and Investment relations – We work with business leaders from India and the UK to ensure Labour Party politicians are fully aware of the latest developments in UK-India trade relations and their impact upon British and Indian companies.
3. Community engagement and empowerment – We engage in outreach in both directions, so that the Labour Party is in touch with the views of Indians in the UK, and that the Labour Party is better able to communicate their work and policies to the community.
The current Chair of Labour Friends of India is Barry Gardiner MP. He is assisted by a panel including Baroness Royall - Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, Gareth Thomas MP, Baron Meghnad Desai - Professor Emeritus at the LSE and Varun Chandha from Tony Blair Associates.
Labour Friends of India Conference Dinner
Barry Gardiner MP hosted a Gala Dinner at Labour Party conference in Liverpool in the presence of the Indian High Commission. The Dinner took place in the stunning St. Georges Hall, a real tribute to Liverpool.
The dinner saw the participation of Mr Rajesh Prasad, Acting Indian High Commissioner, Baroness Royall, Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, Emma Reynolds, Shadow Foreign Office Minister, the Rt. Hon. David Blunkett and Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Select committee, as well as many other MPs and dignitaries.
Speakers praised the continuing vibrancy of Indian democracy in the wake of the terrible atrocities in New Delhi and Mumbai this year, welcomed increased trade between the UK and India, particularly the new Landrover plant which will be built in Wolverhampton and shared their personal stories of their connections with India.
Our deepest thanks to everyone who contributed to a wonderful evening.
We need to stand up for human rights in the Indian sub-continent
Tomorrow I will be speaking alongside other members of Labour Friends of India in a debate in Parliament on “human rights in the Indian sub-continent”. We want to take the opportunity of this debate to remind the world of how India, the world’s most populous democracy, continues to be a beacon of tolerance, peace and democracy in the face of some of the most serious security threats faced by any country in the world.
The Indian sub-continent is one of the most dangerous and unstable regions in the world. The 2011 Failed State Index from the respected ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine lists six of India’s neighbours as being amongst ’the most failed states in the world’.
Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan all featured on the list of 60 countries.
India now has a unique opportunity to end corruption
Friends of India around the world breathed a sigh of relief last Friday when the Indian government released the anti-corruption campaigner, Anna Hazare from jail. What a tragic irony it would have been, had this nation – whose very birth came out of the hunger strikes of Mahatma Gandhi – prevented Hazare from resuming his peaceful protest against corruption.
It is not for any other country to interfere in India’s domestic affairs. India’s friends though will know that the direction she chooses over the ‘Lokpal’ bill is one that will in many ways determine her future.
Certainly the enormous swell of public support for Hazare’s cause and the uniting of all the opposition parties in support of a strengthened bill, has given the UPA Central Government a unique political opportunity to pass a bill which will break the back of corruption. This is an opportunity that has never previously existed and one that may not come again for another generation.
India celebrates sixty-four years of independence
Today marks the sixty fourth anniversary of India’s independence, an opportunity to celebrate not only India’s transformation into an emerging super power but also to recognise the continuing transition in UK-India relations and look forward to even closer ties in the years to come.
Catastrophe looms unless China signs water-sharing agreement with India
The new plans involve the diversion of water from the Brahmaputra to the upper reaches of the north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang which has recently experienced serious droughts.
The plans follow the announcement in 2010 that China is building a hydroelectric project near the ‘great bend’ in the Yarlung Tsangpo, as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet. The hydroelectric dam is the biggest in the world and will have an electrical capacity almost half that of the UK National Grid.
India making progress in fight against corruption
Discussions continue today between United Progressive Alliance government ministers and civil society representatives about the creation of a new anti-graft or ‘Lokpal’ bill in New Delhi. The two sides look set to find a compromise this week on a bill which has stirred tension between the government and anti-corruption campaigners throughout 2011.
Last week a 20,000 strong protest in support of a hunger strike by yoga guru Baba Ramdev ended after police clashed with protestors, firing tear gas canisters into the crowd. Ramdev and his followers had been protesting against corruption and for the return of black money banked abroad.
Ramdev himself was hospitalised following an eight day hunger strike. His protest has garnered support and sympathy across India. The government agreed to create a new Lokpal Bill following a week-long hunger strike in April by another anti-corruption campaigner, the Ghandian Anna Hazare.