Prime Minister Gordon Brown has spoken of his fondness for India and his admiration for its leader Dr Manmohan Singh in an exclusive interview with popular weekly newspaper, Eastern Eye.

He also revealed that he is keen to write something on Mahatma Gandhi and sees the Indian independence struggle leader as one of the great inspirations behind his own political development.

In a wider-ranging discussion which also dealt with issues close to the Asian community in Britain such as equality and diversity, Brown said he had a “great affinity for India”.

“I have got a great affinity for India. One of my family’s closest relations has spent a few years as a professor of engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and I visited it a few months ago and it is a great institution.

“When I was growing up he was in India and his family were in India and they were telling me about all the changes taking place in India. So I have always had great knowledge about what’s happening in India and I continue to retain that contact I had, including a close personal relationship with Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh, who is one the people I admire greatly,” he said.

Brown, author of Courage, Eight Portraits and Wartime Courage, told Eastern Eye he planned to write something about Mahatma Gandhi.

“I want to write something at some point about the contribution of Gandhi to our civilisation. I think he was one of the great leaders of the 20th century and he didn’t seek power, he sought to win by changing people’s hearts and minds and he managed to do so.

He recognised that India has a bigger role to play in world affairs and wants to see a reform of international institutions to reflect that.

“It’s very important for the world to recognise that the world is changing and people need to know that their role in the world is respected.

“India is going to have a bigger role, and rightly so, in world affairs in the future. In economic and financial decisions but also in security decisions affecting the world and we want to recognise it in our partnership with India and India’s important role in the world.”

He said economic ties between the country were vital in seizing new opportunities and driving both countries at a time when the recession was reshaping economies around the world.

The interview is published in Eastern Eye this week.