India aims to put 'new momentum' in ties with UK

Narendra Modi and Theresa May met in Downing Street to “infuse new momentum” in the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and India.

Theresa May and Mr Modi met in Downing Street
Prime Ministers Mr Modi and Mrs May held an hour-long discussion shortly after Mr Modi landed at Heathrow to begin a four-day visit to the UK, which included an audience with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon.Mr Modi will also be attending gatherings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) currently being held in London – the first Indian prime minister to attend the event in almost a decade.

India and the UK post-Brexit

Michael Lake, director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said, “As India cements its status as an economic superpower, it is increasingly apparent that they are starting to see the enormous potential of the Commonwealth as a ready-made soft power network.”The Financial Times commented, “But behind the symbolism of Mr Modi’s visit lies a relationship that officials on both sides say is often fraught, and occasionally frosty. While the Indian leader is interested in playing a greater role in the Commonwealth, his aides say this is mostly because China, which has made heavy investments in countries around India, is not a member.”

Partnership through technology

Mr Modi’s discussions with Mrs May centred on enhancing India-UK tech partnership. The visit will see a number of memorandums of understanding in areas such as skills development, healthcare, cyber security, innovation, traditional medicine, and education.The India-UK CEOs Forum will also take place during the visit and, during the Downing Street visit, Mrs May confirmed that the UK will formally join the International Solar Alliance, which Mr Modi launched two years ago to promote the use of solar energy.
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Welcoming the UK’s participation, Mr Modi said, “This is a fight not only against global warming, but this is our responsibility towards humanity, towards the next generation. I think this is a very important step.”New commercial deals worth £1 billion are also expected to be signed during the visit as Mrs May steps up Britain’s campaign for a trade deal with India once the UK has left the European Union.Pointing to a “significant increase” in trade between the two countries over the past year, Mrs May said, “Our trade partnership is showing how we can remove barriers to increase trade between our two countries.”

UK and India’s bilateral trade 

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who greeted Mr Modi at the Heathrow Airport, said he was “excited” about growing India-UK bilateral trade – currently valued at about $13 billion a year – and believed the visit would help build on “huge economic advantages”.He added, “Thanks to our shared history, we have a living bridge between us and now we want to build on the incredible tech sector where both India and the UK are making giant strides together.”Ahead of the trip, Mr Modi said, “My visit to London presents another opportunity for both countries to infuse fresh momentum to this growing bilateral engagement. I will be focusing on enhancing India-UK partnership in the areas healthcare, innovation, digitization, electric mobility, clean energy, and cyber security.“Under the theme of ‘Living Bridge’, I will also have the opportunity to meet people from various walks of life who have enriched the multi-faceted India-UK relationship.”
A senior Indian official travelling with Mr Modi added, “A slew of agreements will be signed between India and the UK during the bilateral leg of the visit today. This is a relationship that cuts across all sectors and has reached a very mature level. The prime minister’s visit is about what more we can do to build on that.”After his meeting with Mrs May, Mr Modi was greeted by Prince Charles at the Science Museum’s exhibition, ‘5000 Years of Science and Innovation’, where he met Indian-origin and other scientists. The event launch of the Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence at the University of Westminster, which will be aimed at creating a first-of-its-kind global network for evidence-based research on yoga and Ayurveda.
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