Cameron sidesteps questions on Indian intolerance

14 Nov 2015


British Prime Minister David Cameron today said that the concerns of freedom of speech raised by over 200 authors in an open letter to him were discussed during talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

The British Prime Minister stressed that the UK remained positive about the investment climate in the country.

''We talked about the letter and as ever in our relationship, nothing was off the table in terms of the subjects we discussed. I see India as I see Britain, a country that is a vibrant multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracy that has very strong public debate, freedom of speech, rule of law and those are things that Britain and India continue to learn from each other,'' Cameron told PTI.

Asked about his views on the reports of curbs on freedom of speech coming out of India, he said, ''I think what's happening in India is that a Prime Minister with a very clear mandate to reform and open up the Indian economy to investment. That was the message very strongly received here in Britain.''

Over 200 prominent authors including Salman Rushdie had asked Cameron in a letter to raise the issue of a ''rising climate of fear'' and ''growing intolerance'' in India with Modi.

Nobel Prize winner Rushdie, recent Booker prize shortlisted British-Indian author Neel Mukherjee and other well-known names like Ian McEwan and Hari Kunzru were among the signatories of the open letter to Cameron.

Cameron described his private dinner with Modi at his country residence in Chequers as his personal highlight.

''I think the highlight for me was having dinner together at Chequers and the ability to talk very privately about the challenges we both face. We had very good discussions,'' he said.

On the overall visit, he said, ''It's been a fantastic visit because we are taking the visit to a much higher level and we've got not just the big business deals of £9 billion and the jobs and the growth but the partnerships of energy and infrastructure and skills.

''Above all, I can see that Prime Minister Modi is deadly serious about his plans to transform India and Britain can play a big part in helping him to do that.''


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