India-UK ties

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Partnership in technological domain with UK

Context

When Delhi thinks of technological cooperation with major powers, the US, Europe and Japan come to mind. The missing link in India’s technological mind space, however, is the United Kingdom.

How India can benefit from technology partnership with Britain

  • Britain was the first nation to industrialise and has a long tradition of scientific research and technological development.
  • With top-ranking universities and the golden triangle of science and innovation — London, Oxford and Cambridge — Britain is one of the world’s top technology powers.
  • WIPO ranking: This year, the World Intellectual Property Organisation ranked Britain fourth in the global innovation index.
  • India is far behind at the 46th position.
  • India, then, could gain in a technology partnership with Britain.

Overview of the India-UK bilateral ties

  • Pakistan angle: India’s foreign policy community can’t shake off the Pakistan prism in viewing London.
  • To be sure, London’s advocacy of Pakistan has always irritated Delhi.
  • Instead of complaining about London’s South Asian policy, Delhi now simply ignores London’s claims for a special role in India’s political disputes with Pakistan.
  • By focusing on the positive, Delhi is betting it can reduce the traditional negative elements in the engagement with the UK.
  • At the same time, Delhi recognises the enormous strategic possibilities with Britain and is willing to invest political capital to build on those synergies.
  • Meanwhile, the steady relative decline of Pakistan — its economy is now about a tenth of India’s — and Delhi’s deepening strategic partnership with Washington are also encouraging London to rethink its past approach to the Subcontinent.
  • India is fully conscious of UK’s enduring global salience.
  • External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has often highlighted Britain’s continuing weight in the world as the fifth-largest economy, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a major financial centre, and a leading hub of higher education and technology.
  • Britain also enjoys a global maritime reach and a measure of political influence across the world.

Possibilities for partnership in the technological domain

  • While a trade agreement between Delhi and London is said to be imminent, it is in the technological domain that the prospects are immense but under-explored.
  • There is insufficient awareness in India’s strategic community of the British moves to put science and technology at the very heart of its political, economic, security and foreign policies.
  •  London announced a raft of measures this year starting with a major report on “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: An Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development, and Foreign Policy”.
  • One of the broad themes stand out from these initiatives, which is forming a coalition of like-minded countries.
  • London wants to build a coalition of like-minded countries to reshape the global governance of technology.
  • This includes strengthening technological ties with the traditionally close partners in the Anglosphere — US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — as well as other partners like Japan and India.
  • All these elements of British policy mesh with India’s own economic, political, and security interests.
  • The British technology initiatives are also aligned with the technological agenda of the Quad — or the Quadrilateral forum that brings together Australia, India, Japan, and the US.

Consider the question “In India’s partnership with the UK, it is the technological domain where prospects are immense but underexplored. Comment.”

Conclusion

For Delhi, the essence of the new alliance with Britain is fourfold — generate domestic prosperity, enhance national security, climb up the global technology hierarchy, and contribute to the construction of a free, open, and democratic global technological order.

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Back2Basics: Major themes of the policy report on “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”

  • [1] Leverage technology to “level up” the regional and social inequalities in Britain.
  • [2] Ensure Britain’s privileged position as a leading science power.
  • [3] Focus on technological innovation to drive Britain’s future economic growth.
  • [4] Build internal security resilience against new technological threats.
  • [5] Modernise the intelligence apparatus with the help of new technologies.
  • [6] Integrate technology into the national defence strategy as new capabilities like AI become as consequential as battle-tanks, ships and fighter jets.
  • [7] Project technological power to counter malevolent actors in the international system.
  • [8]A coalition of like-minded countries.
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