India will be one of the most important countries in the 21st century, the British Council said ahead of prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit this month, as it called for closer collaboration between India and the UK in cultural and educational fields.
India Matters, a report by the British Council, sets out steps the UK must take to create a new, mutually beneficial relationship for the next 50 years.
“India will be one of the most important countries globally of the 21st century. The UK has so much to offer India in supporting its growth, and both countries have so much to gain from working together. This research demonstrates how through our educational and cultural links, the UK can get ahead of the competition to partner with India,” said Rob Lynes, British Council’s director in India.
“But it’s vital that our next generation recognises modern, digital, urban India and looks for the opportunities to collaborate, otherwise we won’t just miss out, but risk getting left behind. Prime minister Modi’s visit should help boost knowledge of India amongst the wider British population,” he added.
The research conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the British Council found that 30 per cent of young Indians surveyed had visited the UK and 22 per cent said they had done business with the UK.
In contrast, just nine per cent of young people from the UK had visited and only eight per cent had done business with India.
While 74 per cent of young Indians surveyed knew “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about the UK, just 21 per cent of young people from the UK said the same about India.
“This perhaps reflects fewer opportunities for young people from the UK to gain direct experience of India,” the report said.
It concludes that the UK must continue to increase the time, effort and money it invests in modern India to ensure it remains a key partner for the future.
The research suggests that young British people need to refresh their view of India as a growing economic power that will be one of the countries to shape the 21st century.
British high commissioner to India Sir James Bevan said: “In recent years, the UK government has worked to build a stronger, wider and deeper partnership with India. It has invested in strengthening its own relationships and network in India.
“The whole of the UK family now has the opportunity to build a more effective and joined-up approach in our long-term engagement with India,” he said.
“This British Council report is a demonstration of how through our cultural and educational links we can reinforce our unique relationship with this great country and future-proof it for the 21st century.”