Why in the news? 

Recently, inaugural India-UK 2+2 Foreign and Defence Dialogue was held in New Delhi.  India–United Kingdom relations, also known as Indian–British relations or Indo–British relations, are the   internation relations between the  Republic of India and the  United  kingdom of Great Britain  and Northern Ireland. India has a high commission in  London and two consulates-general in  Birmingham and Edinburgh.The United Kingdom has a high  commission in New Delhi and six deputy high commissions in Mumbai, Ahmedabad,  Chennai, Banalore , Hyderabad  and  Kolkata .Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth  of Nations. 

More on the news 

 The 2+2 dialogue at Senior Official level is a mechanism to discuss and review all aspects of India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. 
  Possibilities for further collaboration particularly in areas of trade and investment, defence, critical and emerging technologies, in Indo-Pacific, etc were discussed by two sides. 

 India-UK relations

 Strategic  convergence:  Assertive China in the Indo-Pacific is a concern for the interest of both the countries.   In 2021, both nations concluded a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, outlining India-U.K 2030 Roadmap.  India-UK Roadmap 2030 roadmap provides a framework for UK-India relations across health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence.
  Trade and investment  Relations : Bilateral trade stood at £36.3 billion during FY 2022-23 with the trade balance in favour of India.   Under Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) both aim to double bilateral trade by 2030 and have also launched negotiation for an FTA.   India-UK Infrastructure Finance Bridge was announced to leverage expertise and investment in support of India’s National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP).  

 Defence :  Both signed Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP) in 2015 to provide a strategic roadmap and direction to evolving India-UK Defence Relations.  Joint exercises include Ajeya Warrior (Army), Konkan exercises (navy), Cobra Warrior (multi-national air exercise) etc. 

  Climate and Environment : India-UK Green Growth Equity Fund is mobilizing institutional investments in renewable energy, electric mobility etc. in India.   Also, both cooperate at International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

  Eduction , Research  and Innovation: Both have signed MoU on Mutual Recognition of Academic Qualifications in 2022.  UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) facilitates educational linkages and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) India plays a key role in enhancing the research and innovation collaboration.  Science and Innovation Council (SIC) is apex body to review overall bilateral scientific cooperation (except strategic sector).  

People to people exchange :  Indian diaspora forms 3.1% of the total population of UK.  Both have signed a Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) agreement to facilitate easy movement of working professionals between the two countries. 

Challenges in relations

   Limited defence cooperation: For example, despite the existence of DISP, UK’s share of India’s defence market is around 2%. 

UK stand on state sponsored terrorism: Historically, the UK's lenient stance on terrorism sponsored by Pakistan has hindered the progress of bilateral relations. 

 Policies towards China : Even though UK recognised China as a threat, particularly in the South China Sea, it has been making efforts to make China the anchor of post-Brexit economic policy. 

Also, earlier, Britain committed to help realise potential of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

   Immigration Policies  : Complex visa and immigration policies, especially concerning Indian students and businesspeople have been a bone of contention.  The lack of credible data of immigrants has complicated the issue.

  Economic and Trade barriers: For long, while India focused on self-sufficiency and public sector while UK became dynamic market economy, which restrained wider economic cooperation.  Also, now both countries are not operating under any specific deadline for concluding negotiations on FTA. 


Way ahead  

  Early FTA finalization  : Work towards comprehensive trade agreements for the earliest promotion of free-flowing goods and services between both nations. 

Collaboration  in Shared Interests: Focus on global challenges like climate change, clean energy, and global health, as outlined in Roadmap 2030, to provide leadership.

  Security : Finalize a reciprocal logistics agreement to allow Indian ships and aircraft to use British ports and air bases, especially in regions like Africa.   Prioritize collaboration in counterterrorism, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and maritime security, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. 

  Defence production  : Intensify efforts for government-to-government procurement to facilitate the export of UK military technology.   Capitalize on successful co-production agreements, such as the AgustaWestland–Tata Sons’ JV, to revitalize the defence industrial partnership 

  People _ to_ people Ties : Promote programs like the:    Generation UK-India initiative, facilitating short-term study and work placements to young people from the UK in India for greater people-to-people understanding.   India-UK Young Professionals Scheme, allowing graduates aged 18 to 30 to live, study, travel, and work for up to two years in either country. 


 As India seeks to carve out a new role for itself in the evolving global order as a ‘leading power’ and the U.K. recalibrates its strategic outlook post-Brexit, this is a unique moment in India-U.K. ties. India UK requires a “quantum leap” in the relations. 


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