Of course, as an official delegation to a foreign country, a briefing from your diplomats is always welcome, and so we paid a visit to our High Commission in New Delhi, not that far from our base. Our host was the Deputy High Commissioner, who graciously laid on tea in the company of some of his fiercely bright team. Naturally, we talked about two key elements of their role, aid and trade.
Of course, India is not the basket case it once was thought to be, a land of famine and starvation, as the Green Revolution helped it move into food surplus in most years. Indeed, most smaller donor nations are no longer active there, as the amounts of money involved were apparently thought to be fairly irrelevant. DFiD only operates in five states, including Bihar and Orissa (see, we can do plot development here at 'Liberal Bureaucracy'!). On the other hand, with increasing inward investment in the United Kingdom coming from India, and trade between the two nations being pretty much in balance in financial terms, our trade mission is working harder than ever.
I have to admit that I've often had grave doubts about the ability of our missions abroad to deal with those who apply for the right to enter the United Kingdom. Issues related to access to visas, the insistence that applicants travel vast distances without any guarantee of even a consistent outcome let alone an equitable one, and some personal evidence of racism, have left me suspicious that justice and even the interests of our nation are uppermost in the minds of those making decisions.
However, this wasn't really a day to ask another 'difficult' question, having lobbed a live grenade in the direction of the National Human Rights Commission, so I asked questions about aid to Emma, a Jo Swinson soundalike, who gave a very impressive overview of the work done with our money.
* Yes, I know that the guy with the chicken on his head is the Governor General, and that we don't have one in India, but it was just too good a title to give up...