THE UK's Indian community should be "ever more involved" in shaping British life, Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday, as he visited one of the biggest Hindu temples outside India.
He said he wanted "many more British Indians" in parliament after arriving at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, with wife Samantha to celebrate the Hindu festival Diwali.
The couple removed their shoes before entering, while Mr Cameron was also decorated with a "tilak" – the red dot on the forehead.
Speaking to worshippers in the temple's main hall, Mr Cameron said: "I think of the values that you are celebrating today – family, community.
"Those are the values that we, in this country, need more of. It is great that more British Indians are contributing to British politics.
"We want many more British Indians in our parliament, Commons and Lords, and yes, in the Government of our country, too."
The prime minister apologised for failing to wear traditional Indian clothes after describing Mrs Cameron's sari dress as "magnificent".
He told worshippers he would soon make his third official visit to India as prime minister and said the British Indian community could help build relations with the Asian country.
"This is a vitally important friendship for the United Kingdom," he said.
"Yes we have a shared language, we have cultural ties, we have a shared past, but what really matters is how we can work together now and in the future.
"We want to be the partner of choice for India to grow, to do business, and to make that case I want to have you right behind me."