On his four day visit to the UK for the G7 leaders Summit, Minister of External Affairs (India), S Jaishankar agreed that India’s healthcare infrastructure “stands exposed” during Covid-19. “It is very clear that for 75 years, we have under-invested in health,” the MEA said during a virtual interaction with India Inc CEO Manoj Ladwa in London.
Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement
Meeting Home Secretary Priti Patel, Jaishankar signed the ‘Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement’, bringing “in a system that will require the British government to properly ascertain that those being sent back are bona fide Indian nationals and not “non-Indians”. Under the new scheme on youth mobility under which, every year up to 3,000 young Indian professionals can avail employment opportunities in the UK for a period of two years without being subject to the labour market test.
“According to sources, the UK earlier “misunderstood” India’s position and believed that New Delhi was not willing to take back Indians who are residing in their country illegally. But with the signing of the MoU, the issue has been sorted,” ThePrint reported.
Indian publications reported that there are around 1,00,000 Indians who entered illegally or are overstaying their visa in the UK. However, India says that the figure is not more than 2,000.
As per the fresh MoU, the time frame to verify the nationality of a person who holds an Indian passport and who has overstayed the visa will be not later than 30 days on the receipt of request from the U.K authorities. The U.K will also have to follow the same procedures if a British national is found staying illegally in India. The MoU will be revived automatically after seven years.
India and the U.K will create a Joint Working Group that will meet at least once a year, or as necessary at the request of either participant, alternately in each of the participants’ countries or virtually with mutual consent.
While India remains on UK’s red list, Jaishankar, who has received both doses of Covid vaccination, was exposed to positive Covid-19 cases, so as he landed in London, after meeting Home Secretary Priti Patel and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he went into isolation. He was heavily criticised by Indian media and citizens for traveling amid restrictions and ultimately ending up in isolation and virtual discussions, which could have happened from India.
Defending the government
Speaking on the blame game between the government and the public surrounding havoc during the second wave of Covid-19 in the country, Jaishankar said, “There were repeated advisories going out and public health teams sent out. There was a move to ramp up oxygen production. The reality unfortunately was, as the numbers came down there was an amount of public confidence. This is genuinely not a blame game, but I don’t think anyone in the country can say we kept our guard up all the time.”
Mass gatherings and election rallies
Commenting on mass gatherings and election rallies, Jaishankar said, “We are a deeply democratic and political country and in a democracy, you can’t not have elections. Elections are sacrosanct.” He mentioned that if the government had moved to cancel the elections, it would have been attacked for doing that.
Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr Jaishankar held a virtual two hour meeting where they discussed Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the UK and India, Enhanced Trade Partnership, removing market barriers and creating new British and Indian jobs, including in strategic areas like science and technology. They discussed priority areas for further progress, across trade, defence and security, climate, and health. Finally, they discussed the need for deeper collaboration to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and agreed on the need for swift and equitable access to vaccines around the world.
CBI hosts global business summit
As part of the UK’s 2021 G7 Presidency, the CBI has chaired the B7 group of leading business associations, in partnership with Deloitte from 10-12 May. The B7 acts as the voice of business for the G7 to demonstrate how business leadership and consensus among political leaders can help to promote global trade after a year of international supply chain disruption and rising protectionism, create a race to the top on net-zero, increase the digitalisation of trade and strengthen resilience to global health emergencies.
On Tuesday evening, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) India, said on Tuesday that PM Modi won't attend the summit in person. The G7 summit is scheduled to take place in Cornwall in the UK in June.