London — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, at the start of a visit to Britain, hailed “the openness of British society” while praising the Indian community in the United Kingdom as “truly exceptional”.
“When applauding the remarkable success of our countrymen in this land, I would also like to pay tribute to the openness of British society, which has created an enabling climate for our people to flourish,” the prime minister told a 450-strong gathering of the Indian community at Kensington Palace Gardens soon after arriving here Monday evening from New Delhi on a three-day visit.
Swraj Paul, one of Britain’s most prominent industrialists of Indian origin, writer Vikram Seth, artist M.F. Hussain and several businessmen from New Delhi and Mumbai were among those who heard the prime minister, repeatedly greeting his remarks with applause.
Manmohan Singh referred to Britain as “a free society which cherishes individual worth, and which has extended political, economic and social freedoms to successive waves of immigrants”.
In his opening remarks, he said: “I am delighted to be here with members of the Indian community in the UK, which is among the most well-established communities of the worldwide Indian diaspora.
“The Indian community, of whichever faith, in the UK is truly exceptional in terms of educational attainment, economic profile, social integration and cultural vibrancy. They are an enormous asset to their country of adoption and a matter of pride to us.
“The integration achieved by the community of Indian origin is a shining example of successful adaptation and contribution of any community in the UK. There is no room for the clash of civilizations in India and the Indian community is a vibrant example of that, with Indians of all faiths doing very well.”
Britain is home to some 1.5 million people. Over 16,000 Indian students study in the country and there is a strong demand for Indian IT professionals and management executives. There are also six MPs of Indian origin in the House of Commons.