- GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
India and the U.K.: Crafting a new legacy
Context: As India seeks a new role for itself in the evolving global order as a ‘leading power’ and the U.K. recalibrates its foreign policy post-Brexit, there is a huge opportunity in strengthening India-U.K. ties.
Ukraine Crisis and its impact on India-UK ties
- UK has emphasised on countering Russian aggression and reducing global strategic dependence on Russia.
- UK has underlined the importance of democracies working cohesively to deter aggressors (like Russia).
- However, India has stood its ground and maintained it relationship with Russia without bowing to the pressures of UK (& USA)
Growing India-UK ties
- Conclusion of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on May 4, 2021. The agreement also established a 2030 Roadmap for India-U.K. relations, that aims to double bilateral trade between India and the U.K. by 2030.
- A new joint cyber security programme is set to be announced, which aims to protect online infrastructure in India and the U.K. as both parties attempt to carry out joint exercises to combat threats from cyber criminals and ransomware.
- India and the U.K. also plan to hold the first Strategic Tech Dialogue, a ministerial-level summit on emerging technologies.
- U.K. and India have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the maritime domain as the U.K. will join India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and become a major partner on maritime security issues
- India is a key strategic partner for the U.K. in the Indo-Pacific both in terms of market share and defence, as was underscored by the signing of the Defence and International Security Partnership between India and the U.K. in 2015.
- The U.K. has also confirmed £70 million of British International Investment funding to support the usage of renewable energy in India, which will help in building renewable energy infrastructure
- In January 2022, India and the U.K. managed to conclude the first round of talks for an India–U.K. Free Trade Agreement. India and the U.K. are expected to sign an early harvest trade deal by 2022.
- The newer areas of cooperation — namely, fintech, market regulation, sustainable and green finance, and cyber security — have emerged as the new frontiers of this engagement.
- The top leadership in the two nations remain committed to building a lasting partnership and in the process, older issues like Pakistan have become marginal in the bilateral discourse.
New geopolitical realities demand a new strategic vision from London and New Delhi, which should seize the moment & strengthen the bilateral relationship.
Connecting the dots: