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India’s External Affairs Minister Addresses the Indian Diaspora in the United Kingdom

In an event organized by the Indian High Commission near the Westminster Central Hall in the United Kingdom, External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar addressed the Indian diaspora in London on the occasion of Diwali. He pointed out how they were one of the largest Indian diaspora in the world and a “positive force” in the UK-India bilateral relationship over the years.

Enhancing the Foreign Trade Agreement:

One of the main points in Dr. Jaishankar’s address to the Indian diaspora was the Free Trade Agreement that is underway between the two countries. According to him, “today to realize the Agenda 2030, we are focusing on what is officially called an Enhanced Trade Partnership, in common terms it’s called an FTA – or free trade agreement. And that is today very much the focus of what the Indian and British systems are negotiating, and we hope that we will find a landing point that works for both of us.” Discussions regarding FTA have been going on between India and the UK since last year with the aim of enhancing their bilateral trading partnership worth GBP 36 billion. The discussions have already undergone at least 13 rounds of negotiation, and both countries are hoping to reach a consensus by 2024, before the general elections scheduled to take place in both countries.

Indian Diaspora: A Positive Force

In his address to the diaspora, Dr. Jaishankar also noted that “there is a global significance for a stronger India-UK relationship. Today, one of the biggest problems the world faces is somehow the manner in which globalisation has unfolded across borders in the last 30 years. It has led to a concentration of production in certain limited geographies.” Furthermore, he also mentioned how “the India-UK relationship can actually contribute to making India and the UK stronger factors in contemporary technology, in greater manufacturing, in science and innovation, and in much more relevant ways of modernising… It can also promote pluralism, democracy, and respect for diversity in the world because these are values and practices that we hold very dear.” In this light, the EAM held the Indian diaspora to be a crucial force in furthering bilateral relationships and realizing the enormous promise that this relationship holds.

Progress made by India over the years:

Dr. Jaishankar also pointed out the fast-paced development that India has undergone over the last few years that has made digital life affordable for all. Citing the Chandrayaan success, he attributed the phenomenon to the aspiration and commitment of India to not only its own development but also to the progress of the scientific community worldwide. He mentioned that it was the duty of the Indian diaspora worldwide to spread this message about the home country to everyone. Dr. Jaishankar also visited the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London, which attracts a large number of devotees daily. The temple authorities welcomed him and his wife and applauded the bilateral relations between the two countries, praying for their continuance.

Dr. Jaishankar is visiting the UK from November 11–15. During his visit, he is scheduled to meet Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and several other dignitaries to engage in a review of the current state of bilateral relationships. Both countries have shared a warm relationship for several years now, with commonalities in their histories and people-to-people exchange; the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was launched in 2021, as was the India-UK Roadmap 2030. The EAM’s visit to the UK will enhance this relationship further and give it a timely impetus to make more progress in the time to come.