Letters: Too late for Britain in India

Share

For the last 11 years, my wife and I have visited India every year. During that time, British influence has dropped from negligible to invisible. One reason has been the campaign from the Tory right against "illegal" immigrants, which some Indian newspapers seize upon as an example of "neo-colonialism".

Another reason is the decline in popularity of the BBC. The TV arm, BBC World, now charges a connection fee, which most hotels and individuals will not pay. The radio arm, the World Service – Britain's "priceless asset", in the words of Kofi Annan – dropped its English by Radio programmes. Millions throughout the world acquired a good working knowledge of the language, but also a better understanding of British values, through listening to the news before or after the programme, an example of "soft power".

Finally, Indian students pay a premium to study here compared with the US. The daughter of friends in Kerala wanted to do a doctorate at Imperial College, London, following her master's degree there, but could get no support. So she is now in California, having taken the best of three offers.

So what is left? Still some goodwill and an appetite to learn English and a respect for British connections, especially in the armed services. But that is a long way from what it could be and should be. My reaction to the fine words of David Cameron in India is: "Too little and too late."

William Robert Haines

Shrewsbury

Is it my imagination or is David Cameron spending more time on foreign travels than in Downing Street? At the moment he is in India, not long before he was in Geneva, and not long before then he was travelling around Africa. Is it possible that the Prime Minister has been looking at the leadership ratings of the main three political parties and feels that he is more popular abroad than he is at home? Or am I just hoping that he won't come home?

Richard Payne

Billingham, Cleveland

Coal, gas and nuclear – the energy dilemma

Coal power stations will be closing at a time when coal prices are low and gas prices higher ("Britain warned to prepare for an energy dark age", 20 February). Gas is plentiful in the world, but the pipeline and liquefaction infrastructure does not exist to allow it to be freely transported to the UK. While, say, US gas prices are very low, gas is much more expensive in Europe, including the UK.

Other options such as new nuclear are some time from being available, and renewables in the UK are mostly costly at present, although the industry is confident it can reduce prices if it can see large-scale orders. A stable regime and confidence in decarbonisation targets is required to bring this investment forward.

So in the short term we need gas-fired plant to replace coal closures. In the longer term we need to look at the energy system as a whole, maximising the opportunities to use less energy, and balancing use of the full range of low-carbon energy sources to give us a clean energy system without vulnerability to price shocks. But doing so will not be cheap.

Dr Simon Harrison

Institution of Engineering and Technology, London WC2

I cannot believe that the looming electricity supply crisis has come as a surprise. Before privatisation there was a body known as the Central Electricity Generating Board whose responsibility was strategic planning and long-term commissioning of generating capacity to ensure the country's electricity supply was secure.

Since privatisation, no such body has existed and money which should have been spent on planning and investment has gone to shareholders. The current crisis has arisen because of political ideology, which has seen electricity supply run as a commercial business rather than an essential public service. The generating element of the industry should be taken back by the state to ensure proper planning and investment

Colin Waugh

Teignmouth, Devon

An immediate way to alleviate the forecast energy shortage would be to adopt the fuel tariff escalator, a billing system with no standing charge, where the first units are set at a low rate and units rise in price as the quantity increases. This discourages profligate energy consumption, while relieving the burden of "fuel poverty".

Long term, 10 to 15 years, the solution is development of safe, environmentally friendly nuclear power generated with the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR). Britain has the engineers and the knowledge to achieve world-leading energy self-sufficiency (also fossil fuel free) with the LFTR technology. It just needs the will, and deviation of resources from problematic uranium-based nuclear.

James Morrell

Easter Compton, South Gloucestershire

A directive on Eurospeak

While I sympathise with the attempt by Jeremy Gardner (a translator at the European Court of Auditors) to purge the use of nonsense words by the EU, especially the inappropriate use of "Anglo-Saxon", I can't understand why he is so exercised by "informatics" and "modality" ("EU told to planificate end of nonsense", 16 February").

The New Oxford Dictionary of English indicates that the former has been around since the 1960s and refers to "the science of processing data for storage and retrieval", while the latter – meaning "modal quality" or "a particular mode in which something exists or is experienced or expressed" – has its origins in the 17th century.

I wish Mr Gardner success in his mission to clean up Eurospeak, but I suspect it will fall victim to his having failed to consult a good English dictionary before compiling his hit list.

Professor David Head

Director of Innovative Partnerships, University of Lincoln

You report EU employees generating non-English words such as "comitology". Another problem is the infiltration of American English.

I worked for a British chemical company that was taken over by a Finnish company. Soon we were being told that we were using incorrect English spellings: apparently there is an International Standard for the English Language, and words like "sulphur" and "colour" are not recognised by it; we needed to use "sulfur", and "color".

This adoption of American English seems to be widespread: I recently bought a republication of a story by Nicholas Blake (one-time Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis). The book was published in 2012 and printed in the UK, yet all the spellings had been changed to American. Why not leave the story as Blake wrote it?

Ian K Watson

Carlisle

Ten years on, Blair still hated

During the period before and after the Iraq war I worked in Cairo. My colleagues were mainly Arab, of several nationalities. Steve Richards' excellent analysis of the reasons why we went to war (19 February) will not surprise them, as they raised such points in discussion with me in those awful times. What really disappointed them was the failure of the British, as a nation, to reject the war on moral grounds.

Blair is still hated and his "career" since then has reinforced that hatred. He is no longer of any relevance, but, more importantly, the British nation lost many friends. We will continue to suffer from that loss, long after he has gone. Any British interference in Middle Eastern affairs is now treated with a mixture of contempt and ridicule. Such is Blair's legacy.

Harry Mirfield

Brooke, Norfolk

Scotland's Irish problem

The Scottish National Party seems to be very keen to talk about the break-up of the Union with London or England, but less keen to discuss what the other regions of the UK have to say.

We in Cornwall with our own language and culture feel that a Union without Scotland will be much the poorer, as, I am sure, do our Welsh cousins. Yet Alex Salmond has given us no say.

He is also keen to avoid discussion of the largely Scottish legacy issues in the North of Ireland. In the horrible dawn of an independent nationalist Scotland, Edinburgh must not be allowed to leave the issue of Northern Ireland as a solely London, Dublin, Truro and Cardiff one. The current flag protests seem to have a fair few saltires present.

Timothy James

Penzance, Kernow, UK

How to curb City greed

In response to our financial woes, Ian Birrell argues that "we do not need more regulation, we need better regulation" (20 February). Sadly, I believe this will fail.

Regulation tends to be ineffective in the financial arena. The greedy and antisocial will always try to find ways to circumvent it. The state does not have the resources to police such complex activities.

The only answer is penal rates of tax on salaries over, say, £50,000. This will remove the greed incentive. Nobody needs to be earning more than this, when some are living in poverty.

Keith O'Neill

Shrewsbury

Mark of social distinction

In two sections of your 14 February issue you report on plans by Gary Goldsmith, uncle of the Duchess of Cambridge, to publish a book. Both writers refer to the fact that Mr Goldsmith sports "body art". Tom Peck makes reference to "Kate Middleton's tattooed, Ibiza-dwelling uncle"; John Walsh to "the tattooed, thrice-married property developer".

The implication is dismayingly clear: "tattooed" in this context being your correspondents' not-so-subtle euphemism for "oik". Is this kind of thing really appropriate for a sensible, egalitarian newspaper in the 21st century?

Neil Young

Sunderland

Old, rich and undeserving

Before any Dilnot-sanctioned savings liability kicks in, Dan Dennis thinks the elderly should be compelled to contribute to their care costs the whole of any "unearned and undeserved" gain from house price inflation (letter, 16 February).

Since when has there been a workable way of identifying wealth that is earned and deserved? If his basic concern is for state funding to take full account of unearned wealth, why confine the focus to care, why not also education; why only the elderly and not every beneficiary; and why house ownership and not all forms of property?

Richard Bryden

Llandudno

Good breeding

Hilary Mantel wittily likens the royals to pandas – expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But the Duchess of Cambridge has proved that the royals are easier to breed in captivity.

Peter Forster

London N4

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing