Historical links and shared values matter. India can benefit from Britain’

As the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, nears his one-year anniversary in Office on May 26, 2015 Modi has established himself as global political leader of India, with many hopful slogans promising the return of the “good days” for India, by which he meant jobs, prosperity and international renown. Yes, it is what he promised to do at home that bring him to Office last year. Modi convinced Indian voters that he could do in New Delhi what he had already done in Gujarat.

There is no doubting PM Modi´s conviction that India is about to achieve greatness, and he may well be right. Within a generation, India could become one of the world´s three largest economies. And it could wield more influence in international relations than at any time in its history. But, as The Economist put it in “India´s one-man band”, in his heart the prime minister believes that only one man i destined to lead India down this path: Narendra Damodardas Modi.

Modi has visited 16 countries in 11 months, a figure that, with this weeks tripe to China, South Korea and Mongolia, will rise to 19 by his first anniversary year in office. Although Modi has said that he “usually tries to visit two to four nations together” in convenient clusters, the U.K. was not on his itinerary, despite some vigorous courting. While Britain has erected a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in London’s Parliament Square in an attempt to entice India, the former colonial power finds itself on the sidelines.

In 2014, five prominent U.K. politicians made official visits to India, from former Foreign Secretary William Hague to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to strenghten UK-India ties. Opened and uppgraded Britain´s trade offices in Hyderabad and Chandiagarh to Deputy High Commission, making India by far UK´s largest diplomatic network more than commerce.

India is the only country that has the potential to change the world in the 2020s in the way that China changed it in the 2000s. It will probably take a little longer than that before India really takes off but, even so, it is going to be a global growth powerhouse of the 2020s.

Britain is among a host of nations hoping to capitalize on India’s flourishing economy and the opening of its burgeoning defense industry to foreign investment through which it can possibly carve a role for itself in Asia and feature more prominently in the region.

Indeed, Prime Minister David Cameron himself has visited India a whooping three times since assuming office in 2010, including twice in 2013, professing that India is Britain’s “partner of choice” and “relations with India are at the top of the U.K.’s foreign policy priorities.” In 2012, Britain was among the first countries to withdraw its boycott of Modi over his alleged complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots – the U.S. only followed suit in 2014. In addition, Britain has steadily supported India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

In the world of international relations, historical links and shared values matter. India can benefit from Britain’s impressive historical expertise and know-how in technology and innovation, Foreign investors could raise standards in Indian universities. on excellence in teaching and standard- easing the way for more private providers. Additionally, a large number of British firms operate in India, not least Vodafone, Unilever, Diageo, and British American Tobacco. Indian firms prefer Britain for FDI, and British banks lend more to India than any other country.

Yet, the traffic has been largely one way, and interestingly, no Indian prime minister has visited the UK since Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001, barring Manmohan Singh’s attendance at the 2009 G-20 Summit in London, which naturally did not focus on the bilateral; and notwithstanding Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s recent March visit to London, few Indian officials have done so.

Source: The Diplomat

May 17, 2015. What accounts for New Delhi’s relative indifference to London’s overtures? By Shairee Malhotray.

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