Daily Archives: July 7, 2009

Lunch with Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson

I attended a lunch last Friday organised by the Labour Friends of India. Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair was awarded the Fenner Brockway medal for his contribution to UK-India relations. He was presented the medal by the First Secretary of State Lord (Peter) Mandelson on behalf of the Labour Friends of India UK Parliamentary Group. Lord Mandelson paid tribute to the former Prime Minister for “being committed to India and to understanding the dramatic way in which India’s place and role in the world has changed in the last twenty years.”

The event was to focus on how Blair had connected to UK and India more closely during his time in office. Some of the specific events or actions mentioned were:

  • Signing the New Delhi Declaration in Jan 2002 which marked a new, mature relationship between the two countries. A relationship not shaped by sentiment, or a shared past, but forged in the hard realities of the modern world.
  • Visiting India and Pakistan at a time of intense danger following the murderous attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and escalating military tensions.
  • Increasing the British International Development budget to India from £60 million to £300 million. This was a huge shift in recognition that a third of the world’s poor live in India and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals there needed to be a new focus on India.
  • Being the first leader of the G8 to go on record and support India’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. He subsequently started inviting India to G8 meetings.
  • Resisting protectionist tendencies and actively promoting liberal markets, particularly through the new annual UK – India Investment summits. By the end of 2006 the UK was India’s 3rd largest investor cumulatively – after Mauritius, and the USA.

CompuServe is closed forever…

Before the ‘real’ web was launched, especially since 1994 when Netscape made it easy to go online, there was CompuServe. It was a walled community of users using dial-up Internet, paying Compuserve by the minute to be online and also paying the phone company by the minute for making a local call – at least for us in the UK as it was not common back then to have all-inclusive packages.

CompuServe offered much of the stuff you can find on the web today, gossip, chat, information, technical support… only it was all on their terms. You couldn’t build a web page and just put it out there, if you wanted to create an online group to support your product then you had to ask (and probably pay) them. I used to be a regular user of the music forums and the Sunday afternoon chat sessions where Brits and Americans would discuss the music news of the week were amazing – and very social. We used to get together for gigs and travellers were hosted when they were passing through London, just because they were regularly in the music chatroom.

Now it’s been shut down by AOL and a piece of history has been lost. Of course, it was pointless in the modern era of the web, but it’s still sad to see it go as that was a genuine online community long before the web grew to where it is now.