While we have lately heard much of how the EU will not dare to push Britain around because we are “the fifth largest economy in the world”, rather less notice has been paid to the fact that, since the post-Brexit fall in the pound, we may already have been replaced as the fifth-largest economy by India.
Indeed India’s GDP is growing so fast that by the 2030s, analysts predict, it could be larger than that of the entire EU, and by 2050 could in PPP terms be surpassing the US and China as the largest in the world. Rather more coverage was given to the dreadful pall of pollution which last November engulfed India’s capital Delhi for 10 days.
My son Nick, who lives there with his Indian wife and one-year old daughter, posted a chilling video on Facebook, showing how, against the official “safe” pollution level of 30 parts per million, London was registering 117 and the notoriously smog-ridden Beijing 360. But inside their Delhi flat, with air purifiers, the level was a staggering 960, and outside on their balcony it shot off the scale at 1,248.
With Delhi’s GPs and hospitals besieged by hapless victims of breathing disorders, my family decided, for the sake of their child, to decamp for the winter to Goa, where I recently visited them. Many Westerners are familiar with the palm-fringed beaches of India’s beautiful smallest state. But a few miles inland, where my family is living in a typical Goan village, is a different world. Handsome balconied houses and elegant white Catholic churches show how much Goa still owes to its 500 years as a Portuguese colony. Only 90 minutes’ drive on a superb road took us thousands of feet up into the jungle-clad mountains of the Western Ghats, so rich in wildlife that they are rated one of the “eight top biodiversity hotspots” in the world.
Delhi’s pollution may be a horrifying scandal. But at least, in what is the most environmentally diverse country on earth, there is a great deal else to fill one with wonder and gratitude.
India has ‘PD’; David Cameron didn’t
The stunning fashion in which India’s cricketers outplayed England over the past three months recalled one of the more memorable conversations I have had on a cricket ground.
Watching England win a historic victory over the West Indies in Barbados in 1994 with the manager of West Indies’ then-newest batting star, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, he told me how, when studying “sports science” at a US university, one of the most useful lessons he learnt was what a key to winning at any sport is to establish “psychological dominance”, or “PD”, over one’s opponents.
When England’s Test team arrived in India last November, they began by almost winning the first of five matches. But then, under captain Virat Kohli, the Indians established such psychological dominance in winning the rest that by the end his opposite number Alastair Cook looked shell-shocked, and may now have to step down as captain.
In a final 20-20 game last Wednesday the torture culminated in a batting collapse so dreadful that a highly talented England team must have wondered how they could have been cowed into playing so far below their potential.
But the power of “PD” applies to much more than sport, as we saw when the BBC ran its flimsy story on how David Cameron had last year become so irked by the Daily Mail’s belligerently pro-Brexit stance that he allegedly tried to engineer the sacking of its famously forceful editor, Paul Dacre. Whether in command of his staff or the thrall he seems to exercise over prime ministers, Mr Dacre knows how to live up to his initials.