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India – UK & the changing dynamics

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    4th May, 2022


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited India and met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, where both the leaders reiterated their commitment to cooperate on defense and security issues.


  • Historically India was colonized under British rule for around two hundred years.
  • British rule ended nearly 200 years later with Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech on India’s “tryst with destiny”at midnight on 14 August 1947.
  • Today, India and the UK share a strong and multi-dimensional strategic partnership.
  • Following India’s economic reforms in the early 1990s that placed the Indian economy on a high growth trajectory, the two countries have taken several initiatives to expand bilateral relations.
  • Recent developments after COVID and Brexit and in between power aspirations and territorial claims of various nations India and UK has decided to collaborate in various front including Climate and Indo Pacific Region.


  • On January 31, 2020 the United Kingdom left the European Union.
  • The UK was the first country to leave the EU and this was known as Brexit - British exit.
  • Brexit happened because a public vote - or referendum - was held in June 2016, to decide whether the UK should be in the EU.
  • After the Brexit in 2020 UK has signed a Roadmap 2030 for the future India UK relation which has the potential to elevate the relations into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
  • To advance trade and investment relations, they have formally launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) on January 13, 2022 and the first round of talks have been concluded on January 28, 2022. 

This brief aims to review and analyse the changing relations between India and the UK.


Key-takeaways from the recent visit

  • This was first visit to India as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and follows his Virtual Summit with Prime Minister Modi in May 2021 where both leaders agreed to elevate India-UK relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
  • The two countries agreeing to conclude the third round of negotiations on new free trade agreement by the end of October.
  • The deal in the works, like India’s other regional and bilateral trade agreements is quite ambitious.
  • India and the UK agreed to double trade in goods and services to about $100 billion by 2030.

India-UK relations in this contemporary times

  • India – UK relations can be divided into 6 major pillars
    • People to people contact
    • Trade and commerce
    • Defense and security
    • Clean energy
    • Health
    • Multilateral Cooperation

1st Pillar: Connecting the people

  • Student Exchange program and scholarship program: India and UK has initiated student exchange program and scholarship program which will help the youth of both the nations to share their knowledge and research skills.
  • Strategic Futures Forum: Exchange of parliamentarians, judges and administrative officials between two democracies that will help to promote democracy and improve the institutions of democracy.
  • Bilateral Extradition and Mutual Legal assistance: Both the nations have decided to enhance the extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties and fasten up the process.
  • Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP):Both the democracies have decided to work intensively on Migration and Mobility program and consular cooperation among the nations to improve people to people contact, securing the interest of the diaspora and exchange of culture.
  • Mutual recognition of professional degrees: India and UK are also collaborating on mutual recognition of professional degrees that can improve the service sector trade balance.


2nd Pillar: Trade and Commerce


  • Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement:Recent visit of UK Prime Minister to India has directed the path and time line of comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which can be expected to conclude before Diwali, i.e., October 2022.
  • Enhanced Trade Partnership:Both the leaders have agreed to work and collaborate on Enhanced Trade Partnership to improve the trade volume and value in the future.
  • Collaboration in tax administration:UK has promised to collaborate in tax administration of India to improve the tax administration and make the administration cost effective and efficient.
  • Investment in social and capital sectors:Prime Minister of UK has also promised to encourage UK’s investors to invest in India’s social and capital sector, i.e., education and health and also the industries.
  • Economic and Financial Dialogue: Both the nations have initiated Economic and Financial dialogue and highlighted the success of GIFT city.
  • Global Innovation partnership: Both the nations have finalized the India-UK Global Innovation Partnership.
  • Smart and sustainable Urbanization: To promote sustainable livelihood two countries are collaborating in Smart and Sustainable Urbanization front to ensure disaster resilient city infrastructure.?
  • Space and Nuclear domain:UK and India will also collaborate in space and nuclear energy.


3rd Pillar : Defence and Security


  • Secure Indo Pacific and Indian Ocean region: Both the nations demanded for secure safe and free Indo Pacific region and Indian Ocean Region. International waters should be rule based and all nations should have equal claims.
  • Defenceand International Security Partnership (DISP): Enhancing the collaboration in defence sector both the nations have decided to collaborate in defence technological development and research and improve the cooperation in DISP.?
  • Joint Military Exercise?: Bilateral military exercises will be increased and more focused on to secure the Indo Pacific region and Indian Ocean Region
    • KONKAN SHAKTI: it is one of the major joint exercises between India and UK. It is a Tri-service joint exercise(Army, Air Force and Navy).
  • Cyber Security and counter Terrorism?: Both have welcomed the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and proposed to secure the cyber space.


4th Pillar: Climate Change and Clean Energy


  • Collaboration at UNFCCC for enforcing Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement?
  • Clean energy: Two nations proposed to support the Green Grids Initiatives (One Sun One World One Grid) to reduce the dependency on carbon emitting power sector and take a shift towards renewable energy sources.
    • Climate finance Leadership Initiative and climate finance are two major fronts where two nations have decided to cooperate.
  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure?
  • Waste Management: UK has promised to provide a sustainable solution for waste management to India and provide a circular economy.

5th Pillar: Health

  • Boost up Health services and preparedness for health emergencies?
  • Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation
  • Health worker mobility?
  • Ayurveda and alternate medicines?

6th Pillar: Multilateral Engagements

  • At WTO: Both the nations will cooperate at WTO on their shared goals and values including improving trust and confidence in multilateralism along with various multilateral trade dialogues between India and UK.
  • Democracy: Both the nations will cooperate to spread the ideals of democracy among the nations.
  • At UN: At UN and its various organizations both the nations will collaborate to implement rule based international order and respecting sovereignty of every independent state.
  • Counter Terrorism: Both the leaders have agreed against zero tolerance on terrorism.
  • UNSC: At Security Council both will engage for its better representations and implementation of rule based order all over the world.


How the relations got benefitted?

  • India and UK has signed the Road Map 2030 agreement last year which has put the broader idea of these agreements and elevate to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
  • Student exchange program and mutual recognition of professional degrees will fill the vacuum that has been created in UK in post Brexit era, along with India’s service sector trade and export will increase will improve the trade balance.
  • Defence and security cooperation will help India to improve domestic defence capability under Aatmanibhar Bharat Abhiyaan. Apart from attaining self-dependency on defence sector India will be able to diversify the defence trade and could have a clear stance in Indo Pacific Region.
  • To improve the tax administration and tax base India will get a supportive action from UK to make the tax administration more cost effective and efficient.
  • Shared democratic value and exchange of institutional heads between both the countries will enhance the institution for democracy stronger.
  • Collaboration in health sector will improve the health sanitation condition for India and will boost up the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
  • Terrorism is a threat to human civilization, both the nations have been severely affected by the terrorism. Zero tolerance to terrorist activities will help India to manage its Sovereignty and integrity.
  • Emphasis on Ayurveda and alternate medicines will reduce the dependency on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient.
  • Consular collaboration and MMP initiative will help to share the culture of the two nations that will help to improve the diaspora of both the nations.


What are areas that remained untouched and what India should do?


  • Blue economy: Brexit has also impacted the fishing industries in UK. India could promote its blue economy to fill the gap in UK and secure the income for the fishermen.
  • More Collaboration in Middle East to secure sovereignty of every nation.
  • Emphasizing on climate change prevention and mitigation methods
  • At UNSC both should collaborate for its reform and increase the representation in line with contemporary geo politics.
  • India should remain neutral and non-aligned in each front of the geo political relations.
  • Enhance bilateral relations with other EU nation countries.
  • National interest must be the top priority to maintain a balance.
  • Promoting ideals of Panchsheel Principles, non-violence and respecting sovereignty of every nation.


India’s relation with UK can traced from the colonial period. After independence India has adopted Poorna Swaraj in case of economic, political and social front. Two hundred years of legacy had played a central role for the India-UK relation. In the changing geo political dynamics India should maintain a fine balance between each country from where India’s national interests are fulfilled. Aatmanirbhar Bharat in social, defence health and several other sectors, UK relation could enhance the program and initiatives taken by the government of India under the Aatmanirbhar agenda.

Practice Questions

Q1. Amid a changing strategic scenario, India and UK are trying to give new shine to old ties. Elucidate.

Q2. UK is trying to reinvent itself post Brexit. In this changing milieu, there is a new opportunity in furthering India-U.K. socio-economic ties. Analyze.


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