Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-UK Relations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Britain relations

The article highlights the factors that make building sustainable partnership with Britain hard for India and suggests the ways to find fresh basis for bilateral relationship.

Need to tap potential for bilateral strategic cooperation

  • The long-scheduled summit between Prime Ministers of India and UK will take place with a digital conversation scheduled for Tuesday.
  • India and the UK must tap into the enormous potential for bilateral strategic cooperation in the health sector and contributions to the global war on the virus.
  • Foreign ministers of India, Japan and Australia would also join this meeting to set the stage for the “Group of Seven Plus Three” physical summit next month hosted by the British Prime Minister.

Challenges in forming a sustainable partnership with Britain

  • Few Western powers are as deeply connected to India as Britain.
  • While India’s relations with countries as different as the US and France have dramatically improved in recent years, ties with Britain have lagged.
  • One reason for this failure has been the colonial prism that has distorted mutual perceptions.
  • The bitter legacies of the Partition and Britain’s perceived tilt to Pakistan have long complicated the engagement between Delhi and London.
  • Also, the large South Asian diaspora in the UK transmits the internal and intra-regional conflicts in the subcontinent into Britain’s domestic politics.

Finding fresh basis for bilateral relationship

  • The two leaders are expected to announce a 10-year roadmap to transform the bilateral relationship that will cover a range of areas.
  • Both countries are on the rebound from their respective regional blocs.
  • Britain has walked out of the European Union and India has refused to join the China-centred Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • Although both will continue to trade with their regional partners, they are eager to build new global economic partnerships.
  • While remaining a security actor in Europe, Britain is tilting to the Indo-Pacific, where India is a natural ally.
  • India needs as wide a coalition as possible to restore a semblance of regional balance.
  • Britain could also contribute to the strengthening of India’s domestic defence industrial base.
  • The two sides could also expand India’s regional reach through sharing of logistical facilities.
  • Both countries are said to be exploring an agreement on “migration and mobility” to facilitate the legal movement of Indians into Britain.
  • Both sides are committed to finding common ground on climate change.

Consder the question “What are the factors that introduce friction in the sustainability of India’s bilateral relations with the Britain? Identify the areas in which both the countries can find fresh basis for the bilateral relations?”


If leaders of both the countries succeed in laying down mutually beneficial terms of endearment, future governments might be less tempted to undermine the partnership.

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