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Modi’s Maiden UK Visit is Likely to Advance Strategic Partnership

Both prime ministers are likely to address outstanding issues between the countries and make a few announcements too.

Updated
Politics
4 min read
Modi’s Maiden UK Visit is Likely to Advance Strategic Partnership
Snapshot
  • Modi visit to the UK will be the first tour by an Indian PM to the UK in about a decade.
  • The visit comes at an opportune moment as economies of both countries are growing at an impressive pace.
  • PM Modi will also be hosted to lunch by Queen Elizabeth II, an honour no Indian prime minister in recent times has been accorded.
  • Cameron and Modi are expected to discuss a few outstanding issues and also announce ‘twinning’ of British and Indian cities.
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Prime Minister Modi has embarked on a three-day maiden visit to the United Kingdom today. It is the first tour by an Indian PM to the UK in about 10 years. Over this period four prime ministers from the UK have travelled to India - Gordon Brown in 2008 and current Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 and 2013 (February and November).

The first visit undertaken by Cameron was within 10 weeks of his becoming Prime Minister in 2010. These visits without a return visit by an Indian prime minister underscore the significance that UK attaches to its relations with India.

UK was keen on an early visit by PM Modi to London. It was possibly felt by the Indian side that if PM visited early this year, it would be too close to the elections in UK, held in May 2015. This would be politically incorrect as the visit could be seen to have an impact on the election. Modi and Cameron met in November last year in Brisbane on the margins of the G-20 Summit.

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What’s the UK Plan?

PM Modi’s engagements after arrival on 12th November include talks with PM Cameron. He will also be garlanding the recently installed statue of Mahatma Gandhi and address to members of British Parliament. Although Parliament is not in session, his address is expected to attract a full house. He will proceed to Chequers, the country residence of British PM Cameron for dinner and stay there overnight.

Prime Minister Modi will be hosted to lunch the next day by Queen Elizabeth II, an honour no Indian prime minister in recent times has been accorded.

Modi will also visit the Tata Motors Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) factory in London to emphasise that Indian companies create jobs and promote prosperity wherever they are located. The Tata group comprising of JLR, Tata Steel (former Corus Group), Tetley tea, hotels etc is the largest single employer in the manufacturing sector in the UK.

Before leaving for Ankara on 14th November for the G20 summit, he will visit Babasaheb Ambedkar’s house and unveil the statue of 12th century Indian philosopher Basaveshwara.

The visit comes at an opportune moment as economies of both countries are growing at an impressive pace.

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British multinationals hope to conclude trade and investment deals worth $ 15 billion during the visit. Likely agreements include:

– Sale by BAE Systems of 20 more Hawk trainer aircraft assembled in Bangalore.
– Telecom investments by Vodafone.
– Marketing of rupee-denominated offshore “masala” bonds in City of London to finance housing and railway expansion in India.

Further expansion of cooperation in sectors encompassing health-care, education, science and technology, skill development, R&D, infrastructure, civil nuclear energy, green energy, energy efficiency, defence manufacturing, low carbon technologies and cyber security are likely to be high on the agenda.

Interaction with the resident Indian diaspora has become a signature event in most of PM Modi’s foreign tours. Britain with its 1.5 million people of Indian origin will accord an unforgettable welcome by over 60,000 people to him at the iconic Wembley Stadium. PM. Cameron is likely to personally introduce PM Modi to the mammoth crowd on the evening of November 13.

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Modi reflected on a pane of glass in front of spectators as he speaks at Madison Square Garden in New York in September, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
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Some Issues and a Few Announcements

A few outstanding issues create obstacles in the path to rapid growth in bilateral cooperation. Some of these include the retrospective tax imposed on Vodafone ($ 2.6 billion) and on Cairn Energy ($ 1.6 billion), and delay in payment of 29 million pounds to SIS Live for organising live coverage of Commonwealth Games in 2010.

The issue of visas to Indian students and businessmen which was discussed with Cameron during his earlier visits is also likely to figure high.

The two prime ministers are likely to announce ‘twinning’ of some British and Indian cities, particularly in the context of Indian government’s plans for ‘smart cities’. Currently, Rajkot is ‘twinned’ with Leicester, which has a large population of Gujarati-origin people.

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Protesters, wearing masks depicting G20 leaders, call for global equality among nations outside the venue site of the annual G20 leaders summit The leaders represented are (front row, L-R), US President Obama, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, British PM Cameron, (back row, L-R), Australian PM Abbott, South African President Jacob Zuma, China’s President Xi Jinping and PM Modi. (Photo: Reuters)
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The United Kingdom is among India’s major trading partners featuring at 18th position of largest two-way trade standing at $ 14.34 billion during 2014-15, a decrease of 9.37 per cent as compared to 2013-14.

UK is the third largest inward investor in India with cumulative investment of $ 22.21 billion (April 2000- March 2015). UK ranks first among G-20 economies and accounts for around 9 per cent of all investment into India.

India is among top five investors in Britain with over 700 Indian companies having invested $ 19.9 billion. UK attracts more Indian investment than the rest of the European Union put together.

Some reports suggest that a few disgruntled elements like members of the patidar community who have been demanding reservation in Gujarat, Kashmiris, sikhs, muslims etc are likely to demonstrate against PM Modi during the visit. This will, however, be a minor blip. The visit is likely to considerably strengthen and advance the bilateral strategic partnership between India and UK.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Narendra Modi   David Cameron   Modi in UK 

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