India-United Kingdom Relations

  • IASbaba
  • October 27, 2022
  • 0
International Relations
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Context: India’s External Affairs Minister recently discussed relations between India-U.K. with his British counterpart of UK. The call took place just before he was confirmed to continue in the post of Foreign Secretary by the newly appointed British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

  • The two Ministers discussed several issues but the announcement of the phone call did not include the state of negotiation of the India-U.K. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that missed the Deepavali deadline that was given earlier this year by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to India.

History of India-United Kingdom relations

1600-1857: East India Company

  • 1600: Trade was first established between Mughal India and Tudor England. Elizabeth, I granted a royal charter to the East India company.
  • 1757: The Battle of Plassey started the advent of company rule in India. Over the years a series of wars and treaties expanded the company’s influence all over India.
  • Through the Anglo-Mysore wars, Anglo-Maratha wars, and Anglo-Sikh wars- EIC controlled most of the Indian subcontinent.
  • 1857: Indian rebellion of 1857 led to the end of company rule in India. The rule was transferred to the crown and the British government.

1858-1947: British Raj

  • 1858: The British Government seized control of the territories and treaty arrangements of the former East India Company.
  • Over the next span of years, the British fought numerous wars including the Anglo-Afghan Wars, the Anglo-Gurkha Wars, the Anglo-Burmese Wars, the First and Second Opium Wars, and World War I and II on the strength of the British Indian Army.

Indian Independence Movement:

  • The 1857 rebellion became the inspiration for initiating the struggle for independence in India.
  • Many nationalists and revolutionaries and leaders stood up against the British rule like Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, and many more.
  • The events of the freedom movement eventually led to the dissolution of the British Raj and the Independence of India on 15 August 1947.
  • However, it also resulted in the Partition of India into two new entities, the Dominion of Pakistan (which included the province of East Bengal that would later achieve independence as Bangladesh) and the Dominion of India.
  • 1950: India decided to be in the commonwealth of nations after becoming a republic.
  • Both Britain and India have since pursued quite divergent diplomatic paths.
  • In particular, India became a major force within the Non-Aligned Movement, which initially sought to avoid taking sides during the Cold War. This contrasted with Britain’s position as a founding member of NATO and a key ally of the United States.

Economic and Trade relations:

  • India is the 2nd largest investor in the UK. While the UK ranks 18th as a trading partner of India, it is 3rd as an investor in India.
  • 2005: The Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) was inaugurated in New Delhi aimed at boosting two-way bilateral investments.
  • India’s main exports to the UK are: ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment and parts, spices, manufactures of metals, machinery and instruments, drugs & pharmaceuticals and marine products.
  • The main imports from the UK to India are: precious and semi-precious stones, metalliferous, ores and metal scraps, engineering goods, professional instruments other than electronics, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, and machinery.
  • In the services sector, the UK is the largest market in Europe for Indian IT services.
  • The top sectors attracting FDI from the UK are petroleum, ports, services, roads and highways, and computer software.
  • The growth of India’s multinational companies contributed greatly to UK’s business and economy.
  • India-UK bilateral merchandise trade (Trade in Goods and Trade in Service) has increased exponentially over the decade.
  • Under the Road map, a free trade agreement was signed in 2021.

Cultural relations:

  • India and UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation in July 2010. The Nehru Centre (TNC), established in 1992 in London, is the cultural outreach of the High Commission of India in the UK.

Nuclear Cooperation:

  • Both nations have signed a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Declaration in 2010 to help promote and facilitate cooperation in the nuclear field including nuclear trade and also between the scientific institutions of the two countries
  • In 2015, the UK and Indian Prime Ministers signed a Nuclear Collaboration Agreement as part of a comprehensive package of collaboration on energy and climate change, including joint research programs and initiatives to share technical, scientific, financial, and policy expertise.


  • India is the second-largest source of students studying in the UK and the number of Indian students in the UK is approximately 38,000. The UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) was launched in 2005 with a focus on higher education and research, schools, and professional and technical skills.
  • 2016 was announced as the UK-India year of Education, Research and Innovation.

Defence cooperation:

  • At all the three services level, joint exercises and wide-ranging exchanges between the three services are conducted regularly.
  • Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson have set out a shared vision for the UK-India defence partnership and agreed to advance the relationship to a new level.
  • India-UK agreed to significant new cooperation on Maritime Domain Awareness, which includes new agreements on maritime information sharing, an invitation to the UK to join India’s Information Fusion Centre in Gurgaon, and an ambitious exercise program that includes joint tri-lateral exercises.


  • As a Global Force for Good in health, the UK and India will use our combined research and innovation strength to address the biggest global health challenges, save lives and improve health and well-being.
  • The India-United Kingdom Health Partnership envisions to enhance global health security and pandemic resilience, show leadership in Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), promote healthy societies and strengthen both our health systems through increased collaboration on clinical education, health worker mobility, and digital health.

Way Forward

  • UK values its relationship with India just more than trade and India regards UK as an important player in world politics and development. There is convergence of views on the global issues. Both believe in rule based international order. UK is the permanent member of the UNSC and supports India for its permanent membership. Both support for the development in west Asia.
  • There are areas in which UK seeks India’s support, opinion and share their views with us. At a time when UK is not the part of Europe, it is very important to have strong friends outside and India is one of those.
  • As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is time to reset this relationship. Both the countries cannot afford to be complacent or rely on historical connections to deliver a modern partnership.
  • Britain could further its relationship with India including through security and defence cooperation, joint exercises of the armed forces, and working with India to achieve reform at international bodies such as the UN and WTO. Trade, security, a shared commitment to the rules-based international system — these are all factors in our growing and evolving partnership.
  • India is one of the fastest growing large economies of the world and FTA with the UK has played a significant role in enhancing the trade volume of the country.

Source: The Hindu


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