Vince Cable, Britain's Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, is a self-confessed Indophile. "My first visit to India was in 1965, with a group of friends. We drove down - in fact, ours was the last vehicle permitted across the India-Pakistan border before the start of the 1965 war.
And we were arrested in Pakistan because we were suspected of being Indian spies," he said, soon after taking part in a session at the India Today Conclave. Cable and Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Telecommunications and Human Resource Development, took part in a discussion on whether capitalism can be compassionate.
On a rather rushed visit to India, his 25th, Cable promoted a 'Britain is Great' campaign. This is an important year for the country as it gears up to host the Olympics in London this August.
There is more direct investment into the UK from India than the rest of Europe combined"
The minister said he and his colleagues in Britain's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government are working hard to get to the bottom of some of the underlying social problems in the country. Britain saw its worst riots in decades last year.
Cable also agreed that the economic crisis hit the United Kingdom (UK) hard, leaving the present government to deal with a massive deficit inherited from the earlier regime. "We are trying to turn austerity and necessary fiscal discipline into economic growth," he said, adding that Indian businesses are playing a vital role in that economic redevelopment. "We have over 700 Indian businesses in the UK. There is more direct investment into the UK from India than the rest of Europe combined," he added.
"And it is not just the large companies such as the Tatas
which are coming, but also entrepreneurs. Indian businesses are playing a bigger role in the British economy, because we provide a skilled workforce, a deregulated environment and competitive tax rates."
On the new immigration policies announced by the British government, Cable stressed that the country's doors were still open to Indian students. "It is not true that we are not allowing Indian students to come. In fact, if they are qualified, we want more of them to come and the Study to Work rule remains for graduate students."
That said, Cable agreed that the British government has generally tightened immigration rules, "It is, for example, much tougher to come in as an overseas worker. But even there, if people are highly qualified and have a required skill set, they are still welcome," he said.