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INDIA-UK TIES

WHY IN NEWS?

  • Recently, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited to the United Kingdom (U.K.) after a gap of 22 years.

MORE ABOUT THE NEWS:

  • The leaders discussed various important matters during their meeting including defence, economic cooperation, joint exercises, training, capacity building, increased interoperability, and military ties, with a specific emphasis on the maritime domain.
  • This visit by defence minister reflects a positive shift in India’s political relationship and trust-building with the UK.
  • This visit is also important, as it is happening against the backdrop of India’s concerns over instances of pro-Khalistan violence in the UK.

ABOUT INDIA – UK RELATIONS:

  • The India-UK historical ties over the years have transformed into a robust, multi-faceted and mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Both the coountries have a shared history through the British Empire, with India celebrating 75 years of independence on 15 August 2022.
  • Both the countries have stated that they want to establish “a comprehensive” strategic partnership as they currently collaborate across a wide range of different areas.
  • The move towards achieving a comprehensive strategic roadmap will be guided by a mutually agreed ‘2030 roadmap for India-UK future relations’.

WHAT IS 2030: ROADMAP FOR INDIA-UK FUTURE RELATIONS:

  • It is a joint framework for future relations between the two countries.
  • It was adopted by both governments as part of a “common vision of a new and transformational comprehensive strategic partnership between the United Kingdom and India”.
  • The UK government has said that the roadmap comprises of “more than 100 lines of activity”.
  • The roadmap also included the launch of an ‘enhanced trade partnership’ and the negotiation of an FTA between the two.
  • The joint statement said that both the countries “agreed to continue removing trade barriers on the path to an FTA, and an ambitious target of more than doubling UK-India trade by 2030”.
  • It would “guide cooperation” for 10 years and cover all aspects of relations between the UK and India.
  • The roadmap would also be subject to an annual strategic review meeting to monitor its implementation.

NEW AREA OF COOPERATION:

  • One new area where both countries are cementing cooperation is in electrical propulsion to power aircraft carriers.
  • The Indian Navy has several capability related gaps to make up for the shortfalls it faces faces with respect to the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
  • As presently, the Indian Navy’s carriers are not powered by electric propulsion technology.
  • Securing key defence technologies has been an integral part of Mr. Singh’s visit to the U.K.

  • The U.K. is in a position to help redress the Indian Navy’s technological gaps against the Chinese PLAN.
  • The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy (RN) of U.K. use electric propulsion and they had mastered this technology.
  • The advantage of using electric propulsion is that warships produce a low acoustic signature by removing the link between the principal mover and propulsion.
  • There is also the advantage of enhanced electrical power generation for subsystems in major warships of the Indian Navy’s surface fleet.

TRADE BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES:

  • India-UK bilateral trade (both goods and services) stood at £36.3 billion during the year FY 2022-23, which is an increase of whopping 34.2% or £9.2 billion from 2021-22.
  • India’s total imports from UK amounted to £14.7 billion and India’s total exports to the UK amounted to £21.6 billion.
  • India was the UK’s 12th largest trading partner in this period accounting for 2.1% of UK’s total trade.
  • Total bilateral trade in goods (merchandise) was £18.6 billion, of which India’s export to the UK was £10.5 billion while India’s import from UK was £8.1 billion.
  • The total trade in service were £17.7 billion, comprising of India’s export of £11.0 billion and India’s import of services from the UK of £6.7 billion.

DEFENCE AND SECURITY PARTNERSHIP:

  • Exercise Ajeya Warrior: – This India-UK bilateral exercise is conducted biennially at company group level alternatively in India and UK.
  • The Joint Exercise aims to share best practices & build positive military relations between both the armies of both nations. 

EDUCATION AND HEALTH :

  • Since 2015-16, number of enrolment of Indian students in the UK Universities have been increasing.
  • The number of Indian students in the UK probably increased to around 185,000 in 2022-23, based on the number of new student visas.
  • India-UK bilateral cooperation in dealing with the effects of COVID-19 Pandemic has been very significant.
  • The joint research and development of the COVID-19 vaccine, under a licensing agreement between UK- based AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India, is an unprecedented example of India-UK cooperation in addressing global issues of concern and is bound to lay a solid foundation for our close bilateral partnership across varied sectors.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Although the India-U.K. relationship is experiencing a surge in positive momentum, it is imperative to acknowledge and confront some existing challenges.
  • It will be crucial for effectively addressing these concerns for both nations to maximise the benefits out of their relationship.

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