A new shine to old ties 

News: The Prime Minister Narender Modi is going to host British premier Boris Johnson this week in India. Further, both countries have been working on a roadmap to transform bilateral relations by 2030. 

What were the issues in India-Britain bilateral relations?  

There have been bitter legacies of colonialism. These legacies had made it impossible for the two sides to pursue a sensible relationship in the past. India has shown post-colonial resentments. London was not willing to accept India’s claim for a special role in the Subcontinent. 

The consequences of Partition and the Cold War made it harder for Delhi and London to construct a sustainable partnership.  

At present, there are visible differences between both countries over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Britain was much slower in appreciating India’s new geopolitical salience. In fact, India’s relations with two key countries of the Anglosphere(the US and Australia) are better than those with Britain. 

Historically, Britain has been tilted towards Pakistan. This has complicated India-Britain Relationship. For example, Earlier Tories (Political Party) were empathetic to Pakistan not India.  

Now India’s internal issues are getting politicised in Britain. For example, the Labour Party targets India for its position on Kashmir. It is also shaped by the large South Asian diaspora in Britain. 

What are the prospects for India-Britain bilateral relations? 

There are expansive new possibilities in trade, investment, high technology, defence, and regional cooperation.  

Pakistan’s relative decline in the Indian Subcontinent is bound to make it less important in India’s bilateral relations with Britain.  

Now, The Tory leadership has helped build a number of measures aimed to ensure political confidence with India. 

Post-Brexit, Britain needs a number of partners. The Indian economy is set to become larger than Britain’s in the next couple of years. Therefore, India is naturally among the top political and economic priorities for Britain. 

The regional and international circumstances provide a new basis for mutually beneficial engagement. 

The US has played an important role in transforming the bilateral ties between Delhi and London. It is based on the US premise that a stronger India will serve US interests in Asia and the world.  

The west is strategically committed to assist India’s rise due to increasing assertion of China in Asia. On similar lines, London has also released its own “Indo-Pacific tilt”. Therefore, both can have newer roles in the coming future. 

Why should India engage with Britain? 

India is strategically important for India. It is the fifth-largest economy, a permanent member of the Security Council, a global financial hub, a centre of technological innovation, and a leading cyber power. It has a significant international military presence and wide-ranging political influence.

Source: The post is based on an article “A new shine to old ties” published in the Indian Express on 19th Apr 22. 

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