The tragic shortage of Oxygen in India has made clear through messages from the Foreign Office and Prime Minister’s Office just how much they consider India a friend. They’ve moved fast. It’s been genuine.
No one wants to see images of India that have been headline news. But images are not what matter. No one wants to come from a poor country. But we do and we have been humbled. But that’s not what matters right now.
What matters is the work of the likes of the British Asian Trust, GoDharmic, Sewa among many to raise funds for the many in need, in co-ordination with local groups, official channels and at zero to near zero cost.
The Indian diaspora in the US needs to do more and push harder – especially on the release to India of Astra Zeneca vaccines stockpiled there. They are 4 times larger than the UK and the Indian CEOs like the heads of Mastercard and Microsoft can pick up the phone to the President the way UK Indian CEOs would be wary of doing in the UK after the Cameron affair.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis scuppering the UK prime minister's planned visit to India this April, Boris Johnson and India's prime minister Narendra Modi are determined to keep discussions on track. 'Roadmap 2030' will see the two countries agree on re-energised India-UK relations in investment, trade, technology and security.
This hour of need could push both countries closer together.
Previous False Starts in Relations
For India, the UK's reluctance to allow access to student visas proved a stumbling block in relations that were further thawed by Britain’s perceived softness on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and London's intentions to make China a crucial part of their post-Brexit strategies.
A New Hope
However, these perceptions have been altered as Britain has gotten tougher on both Pakistan and China and changed its post-study work rule for international students.
All of this has laid the foundation for a potentially productive relationship between the two countries.
For UK businesses, India presents a significant opportunity. India has a population of 1.3bn, ten per cent of whom are English speaking. With the incredible potential for further financial growth, this is precisely the type of opportunity the UK needs to make the economy a success post-Brexit.
Currently, trade between the two countries has plenty of room to grow: India is only the UK's 6th biggest non-EU trading partner. Indeed, with India set to loosen its protectionist policies, including increasing foreign stakeholder allowance from 49pc to 74 per cent, this represents exciting news for the UK's biggest export: professional and financial services.
As detailed in the Telegraph, the UK's ailing Food & Beverages market can significantly benefit India's vast appetite for Scotch whisky. Exports have tripled over the last twelve years, and reducing the 150% tariff will surely be a point of conversation amongst negotiators.
Additionally, India's transformation into a developed economy means banking, fintech, and education are all sectors that would greatly benefit from close international alignment.
A Positive, Mutually Beneficial Future
As the UK positions its economy post-Brexit, the relationship with a blooming liberal democracy and economic powerhouse is vital. With India a big part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and two of the biggest names in Boris Johnson's cabinet (Rishi Sunak and Priti Patel) being of Indian heritage, now could present a golden opportunity for both countries to cement beneficial ties in trade and diplomacy – especially as the virus has forced them closer due to vaccine partnerships and India’s oxygen needs.