British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India – his first since becoming prime minister – has seen the two sides take steps that could boost bilateral relations. The joint statement issued at the end of the visit says that India and Britain plan to conclude a free trade agreement by October this year. During the visit, Johnson agreed to increase the number of immigration visas for Indians. This will help break the deadlock in the FTA talks and enable both sides to expedite the conclusion of an agreement. Post-Brexit Britain is keen to reduce its dependence on the EU. Deepening trade with India is seen as a solution to this challenge. The FTA is expected to double Indo-British trade by the end of the decade. The two parties have agreed to collaborate in the manufacture of defense equipment, systems, spare parts and components through technology transfer and the establishment of joint ventures. Besides discussing strategic collaboration regarding combat aircraft and advanced jet engines, they agreed to work bilaterally and with partner nations to facilitate India’s access to the highest levels of technology. India and Britain have also explored cooperation in clean and renewable energy. Britain has pledged $1 billion to invest in climate-related projects in India between 2022 and 2026. Enhanced cooperation in renewable energy, including offshore solar and wind power, will not only reduce the India’s dependence on oil imports, but will also help it make the transition to sustainable development. energy.
Keen to revive Britain’s post-Brexit economy, Johnson came to India determined to push the bilateral agenda forward. He remained focused on promoting bilateral issues such as trade and manufacturing. Unlike other Western officials who have visited New Delhi in recent months, including British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss, who lectured India on what stance it should take on the Ukraine crisis , Johnson avoided ruffling feathers during his visit. He kept his advice to himself, merely observing that “Russian-Indian relations are historically well known and ‘are not going to change.'” His cautious approach proved fruitful as he was able to maintain the focus of his visit on the bilateral agenda.
However, Johnson’s visit to the JCB factory in Vadodara was untimely and tactless. Just a day earlier, city authorities had used JCB bulldozers to raze homes and shops, mostly of Muslims, in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri district. Photographs of him in a bulldozer were insensitive, especially as people have yet to recover from the horror of having their lives and livelihoods bulldozed. Johnson’s silence on the ongoing violence against minorities in India was bad enough, he made it worse with his insensitive actions in Vadodara.
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