VIF-IISS meeting on 16 September 2020 on in the UK relations : Welcome remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF

The VIF and IISS have taken this initiative to discuss Indo-UK relations at a time when the coronavirus is raging and resurging all over the world, international and regional situation is in great flux, and China’s aggressive and assertive behaviour is threatening the rule of law. ND RASING contributing to international tensions.

Indo-UK-partnership is multifaceted and strong. We already have strong ties in political, economic, security fields as also in education, science and technology, culture and other areas which impact our people directly.

I would like to make three broad points.

  1. Consolidate existing partnership but also look for New Opportunities
  2. We have built a substantive partnership in areas such as health, science and technology, climate change, clean energy, education, culture et cetera.

    Indian and UK Companies are at the forefront of developing a vaccine for the coronavirus. The trials are in the advanced stages. This is a reflection of our strong partnership not only in science and technology but also the larger area of mutual interest, that is, health.

    Yet, the comprehensive strategic partnership is functioning for below its potential. In 2010, there was a vision of doubling our trade in five years. The reality is that trade has increased by only 30 per cent in 10 years.

    Several structural issues impinge on our partnership. On Kashmir and terrorism, our views differ. Unlike India, Britain makes a distinction between global and local terrorists.

    Brexit is defining moment of our times. It is a complex process. UK and EU are involved in tough negotiations on a trade deal. Nevertheless, presents many opportunities for enhancing bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, technology and other areas. India and UK should work towards a Free Trade Agreement which would strengthen our economies.

    PM’s call for a self-reliant India or Atmanirbhar Bharat is ca call for comprehensive socio-economic reforms. India will remain engaged with the world but will build its inherent strengths and capabilities. Make In India programme welcomes foreign investment in strategic sectors. In recent times, the government has relaxed FDI limits in the defence sector. UK companies can invest in India in multiple sectors to take advantage of the liberalisation of the Indian economy and the improvement in the ease of doing business in India.

    In the security sector, we should consider stronger cooperation in Intelligence sharing. India’s inclusion in the five eyes programme should be considered.

    The threat from Chinese companies like Huawei and numerous apps is very real. India has banned many Chinse apps recently. We should strengthen our cooperation in cybersecurity, particularly among the technical agencies.

  3. Constrain China and work for enforcing rule of law in the world
  4. China is growing assertiveness and aggression has resulted in a major tension on the borders. China has tried to change the line of actual control unilaterally. The strategic partnership between India and the UK can signal to the Chinese that their aggression, assertiveness and unilateralism not only in the Ladakh but also in the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet will create major tensions in the world. China must be persuaded to alter its behaviour.

    Maritime security cooperation between our two countries favour of freedom of navigation as per the international law will send an appropriate signal. India and the UK can cooperate in the context of the Indo Pacific geopolitical construct.

  5. Push for UN reforms

India will be joining the two-year term from 1 January 2021. India and the UK can work together for in UN Security Council for international peace and cooperation.

What we need is a deeper dialogue between our two sides as Britain seeks to reinvent itself as Global Britain. India is looking to play a much larger role in global affairs. We can complement each other in many areas.

Thank you.

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