India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is highly valued by the UK as a strategic partner which wants closer ties with such trusted friends in these uncertain and trying times.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent visit to India has generated high hopes of cooperation between the two countries in different areas. The two-day visit had generated a lot of hype as it happened to be Johnson’s maiden trip to this country as Prime Minister. Besides, he was the first Prime Minister from Britain to set foot on the soil of Gujarat.
As the British Prime Minister had stated at the outside the trip is expected to not only strengthen trade ties between the two countries, which share a long history, but also pave the way for greater cooperation between them on issues of global concern such as terrorism. Johnson, a former journalist whose first wife was half Indian, commenced his visit from Gujarat, creating history in the process.
He landed in Ahmedabad, the political and commercial nerve centre of Gujrat which was nurtured for a long time by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of the state. The city is also closely connected with the activities of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, who set up the Sabarmati Ashram on the banks of river Sabarmati. Most visiting dignitaries make it a point to pay tributes to the Mahatma and have a look at the Gandhi memorabilia at the Ashram.
After meeting businesses in Ahmedabad and firming up deals which will be advantageous for both the countries, Johnson flew to New Delhi where he held in-depth talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of crucial issues including the current international situation. India-UK strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership were in focus. Trade between the two countries was high on the agenda as is always the case when a British premier comes calling.
In the lead up to the visit officials on both sides had indicated that Johnson was likely to use the opportunity to drive progress in the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations launched earlier this year. Ahead of the trip he had issued a statement underscoring the importance of the visit. The British Prime Minister had said that his visit to India would deliver on things that really mattered to the people of both the countries, ranging from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence.
In an obvious reference to the threat of global terrorism he had said that in a scenario where there is threat to the peace and prosperity of democratic countries from autocratic states, it was of vital importance that democracies and friends stuck together. India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is highly valued by the UK as a strategic partner which wants closer ties with such trusted friends in these uncertain and trying times.
The choice of Gujarat, India’s fifth largest state, as the first stop for Johnson on his maiden visit to the country as Prime Minister, was also significant as it happens to be the ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian diaspora residing in Britain.