Evolution of ties & Contemporary Issues INDIA – UK


  • India and UK are bound by strong ties of history and culture. India’s multifaceted bilateral relationship with the UK intensified with its upgradation to a Strategic Partnership in 2004.
  • The groundwork for this was laid when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in London in September 2004 and they adopted a Joint Declaration titled ‘India-UK: towards a new and dynamic partnership’ which envisages annual Summits and regular meetings between Foreign Ministers.
  • It also outlined areas for future cooperation in civil nuclear energy, space, defence, combating terrorism, economic ties, science & technology, education and culture.
  • The visit of UK Prime Minister David Cameron to India in July 2010 saw the relations elevated to ‘Enhanced Partnership for the Future’. The UK supports India’s proposal for permanent membership of the UNSC and is also an important interlocutor for India in the EU, G7, G20 and global contexts.
  • There have been regular exchanges of visits at the Prime Ministerial level since the Strategic Partnership in 2004. Soon after coming to power, Prime Minister David Cameron, accompanied by a large delegation, visited India in July 2010.
  • Summit level talks were held between the two Prime Ministers. The two leaders agreed inter alia to establish India-UK CEOs Forum and an India-UK Infrastructure Group to enhance trade and investment.
  • Several understandings were reached to enhance all round cooperation including in S&T, Defence and to promote greater people to people contacts.
  • An MOU on India-UK Cultural Cooperation was also signed.



  • Merchandise trade between the two countries was $15.5 billion in 2019-20 with the trade balance in favor of India.
  • India is the second-largest source of foreign direct investment after the US in the UK.
  • UK is the 6th largest investor in India, after Mauritius, Singapore, Netherlands, Japan and USA.


  • India and the UK signed Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP) in 2015 to provide a strategic roadmap and direction to the evolving India-UK Defence Relations.
  • UK is deploying Carrier Strike Group in Indian Ocean region this year in line with its strategic tilt to Indo- Pacific.
  • UK will join the Indian-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).


  • India-UK Green Growth Equity Fund is mobilising institutional investments in renewable energy, waste management, electric mobility and environment sub-sectors in India.
  • Early operationalisation of the Global Green Grids-One Sun One World One Grid Initiative (OSOWOG) under ISA and IRIS platform under CDRI which were jointly launched by India and UK at COP26.


  • Successful partnership between Oxford University, AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India (SII) on Covid19 vaccine demonstrated the potential of Indian and UK expertise working together to solve international challenges


  • UK has been supportive of India’s permanent membership of UNSC and voted favorably in the roll-over decision on UNSC reforms to the 70th session of UNGA.
  • UK is also a strong supporter of India’s membership of the NSG, MTCR, Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement.
  • UK and India are current co-chairs of Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). UK is also a member of ISA and supports its activities.


  • Indian Diaspora in UK is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country, including approximately 1.6 million British nationals of Indian origin and about  3,51,000 NRIs living in the UK equating to almost 2.5% of UK population and contributing 6% of the country’s GDP.
  • At present there are sixteen Indian origin MPs in the UK Parliament and, out of these, five of them hold key Ministerial posts in the Government.


  • Negotiate a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
  • Doubling India-UK trade by 2030.
  • Strengthening defence partnership, focusing on maritime and industrial collaboration
  • Closer cooperation in a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • Maritime Domain Awareness, which includes new agreements on maritime information sharing
  • Conclusion of a Logistics MoU.
  • Cooperation and coordination in the UN, including at UNSC and UNFCCC, and other multilateral fora such as G-20, WTO, WHO, Commonwealth, IMF and World Bank.
  • Promote and uphold a rules-based international system and work together to promote reformed multilateralism


  • UK is focusing to significantly increase its nuclear stockpile to counter threats posed by increasing military might of Russia and assertiveness of China.
  • UK is looking towards India and Indo-Pacific Region to ensure that its strategic interests are protected and impact of Brexit on the economy is minimized.
  • Britain has expressed its desire to acquire partner status of ASEAN.
  • It is part of the AUKUS security Partnership that aims at countering China in the Indo – Pacific.


Will declare UK’s political commitment to the region, thereby developing a consensus against an assertive China.

  • By aligning with US and Australia, it is amplifying its efforts by entering the regional security architecture.
  • On intelligence gathering and sharing – a field the UK leads in – there is potential to cooperate more with key Indo-Pacific states such as Japan and India. Ex – 5 eyes
  • Trade and investment will be a key dimension of the UK’s tilt and the UK’s changing relationship with China requires a diversification of trading partners.


  • Both view Indo – Pacific as an emerging theatre of Geo-politics. It provides an opportunity for a closer UK-India partnership.
  • UK’s post-Brexit meritocratic immigration policy, along with its move to co-sponsor a motion at the UN that called out Pakistan’s failure to prevent the financing of terrorism, have helped put the relationship on a healthier footing.
  • India has come to the realisation that, alone, the US is incapable of constraining China.
  • Compared to its ties with Japan, Australia and France, the UK remains a relatively untapped strategic partner for India.
  • On cybersecurity, the UK and India will be working multilaterally under the proposed D 10 to combat Huawei’s lead in 5G.
  • The partnership between Oxford University, AstraZeneca and India’s Serum Institute serves as a blueprint for future cooperation on global health initiatives.
  • Post Brexit – when UK is trying to diversify its economic partners – India can play a crucial role.
  • Both are partnering on the issues of Climate change. Ex- Green Grid initiative and one sun on world one Grid at Glasgow COP26.

As India seeks to carve out a new role for itself in the evolving global order as a ‘leading power’ and the U.K. recalibrates its strategic outlook post-Brexit, this is a unique moment in India-U.K. ties.

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