I know some people have criticised the Government’s focus on India, with their recent trip over there. I personally don’t have a problem with it at all and actually think it is quite a good idea, although I am mindful about the expenses invovled. Ultimately though I think it is a good investment, provided there aren’t any unneccessary expenses involved.
India, along with China, Brazil and, surprisingly, Russia, is an emerging superpower, rivalling the existing importance of the USA, the EU and Japan. Their international business sector is set to grow massively over the next decade, in many ways capitalising on the problems currently facing the EU and the USA. Furthermore, the Indian diaspora, at least in the USA and Canada, are among the richest ethnic groups in those countries, and a potentially important tourism market. It is true that when one thinks of India one usually thinks of poverty, curry and the past ‘glories’ of the British Empire, but there is also an increasingly important wealthy elite. This elite is indeed small, and only clarifies the massive inequalities and social injustices there, but from Bermuda’s perspective we have alot to gain and little to loose in courting the Elephant.
Despite the growth of these new superpowers, the USA and the EU will remain dominant for some time to come, and will no doubt remain important areas for international business. Bermuda has previously benefitted from our location between the EU and the USA, and can continue to do so with these new powers. In particular we stand to develop potentially lucrative ties with Brazil and that should be something we focus on. China too is an obvious new power, and we have already initiated relationships with them, something that I really do not think has been threatened by the Uighur issue of 2009, at least nowhere to the degree that some people may think.
I don’t know whether or not we will see any Bollywood films being filmed, at least partly, here on location in Bermuda. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised though, and Switzerland has certainly capitalised on this growing mulit-million dollar industry, and yes, they have seen increases in tourism as a result. I’ve always been amazed at how fanatical Indians can become over movies. Whether we will see an increase in tourists from India itself is debatable however, and I personally, were I Indian, would be more likely to visit the Seychelles or Bali. Where we could focus on however is the Indian diaspora in the US and Canada, a potential niche tourism market for us.
At the end of the day, as long as the world socialist revolution hasn’t replaced global capitalism, Bermuda needs to adapt to changing circumstances, just as we have done for centuries. For decades our business focus has been on the US and the EU. Today it makes sense to start adding India, China, Brazil and Russia to our focus. India shares similar Commonwealth institutions and the English language and so makes a natural target for us. With Brazil we can draw on the connections we already have and promote Portuguese as a second language, something the 2009 Throne Speech touched on. We should also be developing the capacity to learn Mandarin as a second language, something I understand is already being pursued in some schools. We cannot hope to compete with Singapore or Hong Kong for benefitting from the developing Asian century, but we cannot afford to ignore Asia either, from both an International Business and tourism perspective (I certainly remember the large numbers of Japanese tourists we had in the mid-80s to the early 90s afterall). Not sure how many Bermudians are going to take advantage of studying cinematography in India though, but to me the idea is less about Bermudians going there than encouraging Indians to focus on Bermuda. I can see a Bollywood Bermuda Triangle film in the making already…