TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Bilateral Relations; Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries
In News: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new UK-India trade and investment worth 1 billion pounds, including an investment of 240 million pounds by the Serum Institute of India for its vaccine business in Britain.
The key takeaways from the virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister and the UK Prime Minister –
A. The UK-India trade and investment package:
- The package includes over 533 million pounds of new Indian investment into the UK, in vital and growing sectors such as health and technology, British exports to India worth more than 446 million pounds, while 200 million pounds of these deals will support low carbon growth.
- The investments include 240 million pounds to be pumped in by the Serum Institute for its vaccine business in Britain, and a new sales office.
B. ‘Roadmap 2030′
- To elevate bilateral ties to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.
- It will pave the way for a deeper and stronger engagement over the next ten years in the key areas of people to people contacts, trade and economy, defence and security, climate action and health.
C. ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ (ETP)
- It sets an ambitious target of more than doubling bilateral trade by 2030.
- As part of the ETP, India and the UK agreed on a roadmap to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA, including consideration of an Interim Trade Agreement for delivering early gains.
D. India-UK ‘Global Innovation Partnership’
- It aims to support the transfer of inclusive Indian innovations to select developing countries, starting with Africa
E. A comprehensive partnership on migration and mobility
- It will facilitate greater opportunities for the mobility of students and professionals between the two countries.
Irritants in India-UK relationship
- Colonial History: If the anti-colonial resentment against Britain is always seething barely below the surface among the Indian political and bureaucratic classes, London has found it difficult to shed its own prejudices about India.
- Divergence on Pakistan: The bitter legacies of the Partition and Britain’s perceived tilt to Pakistan have long complicated the engagement between Delhi and London.
- Growing anti-Indian sentiments: Delhi’s problems have been accentuated by the British Labour Party’s growing political negativity towards India & Indian migrants in UK. Ironically, it was the same party that supported Nationalists during freedom struggle.
Why India and Britain need each other?
- Need for Economic Partnerships: Britain has walked out of EU and India has refused to join RCEP. Although both will continue to trade with their regional partners, they are eager to build new global economic partnerships.
- Changing Geopolitics: The centre of international politics has shifted from Atlantic to Indo-Pacific. India is a natural ally for Britain in Indo-Pacific. India which is witnessing rise of China in Indo-Pacific, needs as wide a coalition as possible to restore a semblance of regional balance.
- Climate Change: Both sides are committed to finding common ground on climate change.
- Health Cooperation: The issues of immediate relief supplies of oxygen & other medical equipment, resilient medical supply chains have potential for bilateral strategic cooperation in the health sector and contributions to the global war on the virus.
The Way Forward
Beyond the immediate relief supplies of oxygen and other medical equipment needed to treat COVID victims, India and the UK must tap into the enormous potential for bilateral strategic cooperation in the health sector and contributions to the global war on the virus. The possibilities range from ramping up vaccine production to the structuring of a strong public health system in India, the absence of which has been so terribly felt in the last few weeks. The current pandemic is neither the first nor will it be the last.
As they deepen their bilateral partnership and expand regional and international cooperation, Delhi and London may find it easier to manage the irritations over Pakistan and South Asian diaspora politics in Britain. If Modi and Johnson succeed in laying down mutually beneficial terms of endearment, future Labour governments might be less tempted to undermine the partnership.
Connecting the Dots:
- The two nations have a deep historical connection. But both have found it hard to move on from entrenched prejudices of the past. Comment.