The Indo-UK ties are built on the bedrocks of shared history and mutual interests. These ties have also continued to grow due to stronger cultural and personal relations. As both countries start their post-Covid plans, they are exploring different and new avenues of collaboration while deepening their traditional ties. Against this backdrop, Ananta Aspen Centre and the Aspen Institute UK held a digital session on ‘The Way Forward: India UK Bilateral Relations’ with Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, Karan Bilimoria, Founder, Cobra Beer and Chairman, Cobra Beer Partnership Limited, Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, Nandita Sahgal Tully, Managing Director, Thomas Llyod. This session was chaired by Tarun Das, Founding Trustee, Ananta Centre and Chairman, Institute of Economic Growth.
Both India and UK are vibrant democracies with rich history and diversity. This personal relationship has played a huge role in how these countries have chosen to interact with each other since India opened its economy to the world. This was evident when India and UK signed the Indo-British Partnership Initiative in 1993. Since then, UK has become a gateway for Indian companies to Europe. Indian companies have started treating UK as their base for Europe. Both have enormous opportunities to interconnect on all levels to recover and initiate growth.
The year 2020 brought unprecedented challenges at the domestic and global front resulting in complete lockdowns, severely affecting economies with healthcare emerging as the driving welfare tool. These challenges brought India and UK much closer to collaborate on the healthcare front, both made a huge success in the Oxford-AstraZeneca collaboration with SERUM Institute. Secondly, trade and investment has been instrumental in deepening bilateral relations between the two countries. Relations between India and UK post Brexit offers an incentive to explore the viability of Free Trade Agreement. There is great potential for both the Indian and UK companies to invest in each other’s markets as there is availability and accessibility of resources and diverse talent pool. India can learn and collaborate with the technological advancements of the UK companies and integrate MSMEs. Third, collaboration in energy sectors looks promising as energy transitions in both countries are on a good trajectory therefore an alliance in this sector can bear fruitful results as both economies try to achieve sustainable growth and development. This will also create a sustainable society with employment opportunities benefitting demography of both the countries.
Investment is leading growth as economies try to revive themselves from the pandemic with India’s new Union budget targeting to start recovery efficiently and get growth back on the table. Investors are seeking climate where they can rely on growth, stability and regulatory and legal framework. Indian and UK companies have always had a special investing relationship. Despite the pandemic, FDI flows in India jumped by 13% with large investment in digital economy, as well as Infrastructure and healthcare. Going forward technology is the biggest manufacturing area that UK can contribute to India. With Insurance opening up and defence manufacturing becoming important in India, the UK has an opportunity to invest and gain dividends in the future. UK should be cognizant of India’s paths to a 5 trillion dollar economy. Momentum towards green collaboration is yet to be seen during the participation of two countries in COP26 and G7.
Moreover, with the New Education Policy of India there is a huge potential for UK to capitalise and bring universities to base their campuses in Indian cities. With this, India will have world class capability to access great potential in their lands and global degrees will become a reality. It will be through education, personal experience and cultural understanding that will shape the future relationship.
Profound ties of culture, history and language already give UK a potentially strong foundation upon which to further deepen its relation with India but exploring avenues of collaboration and cooperation in space, renewable energy, digital industries, and climate change can prove beneficial as both countries move to make a mark on the world stage. Both countries have ample opportunities that will not only improve bilateral relations but also provide opportunities to their people. A world transformed by the pandemic has lit up a unique path for Indi-UK collaboration going forward with opportunities that are just waiting to be picked up. Hopefully the meeting of the two Prime Ministers this year bores results that start a new chapter in India-UK bilateral relations.
Please watch the full session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t62dBCbT64