Modi's Visit to the UK

Nov 13, 2015, 11:25 ET from EU Asia Centre

LONDON, November 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

The director of the EU-Asia Centre, Dr Fraser Cameron, took part in a panel event at the Royal United Services Institute in London on 6 November to preview the visit to the UK of India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. It was also an occasion to preview Dr Cameron's short book entitled 'Modi's India', which assesses the country's domestic and international policies in the first 18 months of Modi's premiership.

Opening the discussion, Rusi senior fellow, Shashank Joshi, drew attention to the increased diplomatic activity of Mr Modi during the past 12 months and the hopes that he would now implement a difficult domestic reform agenda.

Dr Cameron said there were two motives in writing the book. First, to correct the Sino-centric orientation of the EU's Asia policy. Second, to highlight the diplomatic efforts of Mr Modi to put India back on centre stage of global affairs. As regard the EU and India it was time to move forward on the stalled free trade discussions. During his UK visit Modi would seek support for India's bid to join the UN Security Council as a permanent member, encourage two-way trade and investment, and address issues related to the accessibility of the UK labour market to Indian skilled workers. Modi's planned rally at Wembley stadium was typical of his enthusiasm for direct engagement with citizens and personal leadership of India's diplomacy.

Dr Gareth Price from Chatham House agreed with the positive assessment of Modi's foreign policy, especially reaching out to South Asian neighbours, but said the jury was still out on the domestic reform agenda.

Dr Charles Tannock MEP was convinced that Mr Modi's visit would improve the UK-India bilateral relationship which had been neglected for many years. It would also further consolidate Modi's approach of using the Indian diaspora as a diplomatic tool to enhance India's global profile. The timing of Modi's visit to the UK was perhaps not entirely coincidental, coming within a month of Xi Jinping's state visit. Modi was obviously keen to offset China's growing influence. India and the UK were natural partners in many areas but that would not prevent Modi raising security concerns including pro-Khalistan Sikh militancy and Kashmiri extremist activity in the UK.

In the discussion there were questions about India's global role, the recent problems with Nepal, relations with Russia and the vested interests hindering domestic reform.

SOURCE EU Asia Centre