ALPESH PATEL’S POLITICAL SKETCHBOOK: INDIA LEAGUE WELCOMES CLOSER UK-INDIA RELATIONS
The India League was founded around a century ago to promote India's independence initially.
You can find our website here: https://www.theindialeague.org/
You may think it ironic that an organisation founded to distance the relationship between India and the UK now seeks closer relations.
Of course, a moment's thought reveals that both countries seek it, and the peoples of both countries seek closer relations. India taught Britain the importance of being a liberal democracy through the Independence movement.
The India League made the moral case for democracy, liberalism, separation of 'church from state,' and it made the moral case against imperialism, colonisation, unfettered capitalism and exploitation, and discrimination.
Those values remain Indian ideals, enshrined in India's constitution. Britain does not have yet have a formal written constitution. They are the ideals the India League and I, as President, promote.
Those disagreeing with them in Britain and India were in the minority. In Britain, those disagreeing were outvoted. While in India, those disagreeing left India where they could, to make their own country. Many would have preferred they stayed within one nation, and the case to convince them of the merits of being a secular rather than theocratic nation have had longer to be made.
What Next For UK-India Relations?
The UK Trade Secretary has returned to India to kick off a free trade agreement. Following recent joint military exercises between the countries, what does 2022 hold for this special relationship?
January 13th saw the beginning of free trade agreement discussions between the UK and India. The goal is to secure an agreement worth billions of dollars by the end of the year. However, Piyush Goyal, the Indian trade minister, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK's international trade secretary, have suggested both countries could form a limited agreement over the next few months.
India is already an essential partner for the UK. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) offers an opportunity to deepen this relationship. The UK estimates that a successful deal could double exports and increase trade by £28bn by 2035.
An FTA could bring many advantages. The much-hoped-for US trade deal still looks remote, and Brexit has contributed to skills and labour shortages across Britain. UK ministers hope an FTA with India can help solve these issues.
Currently, 20% of UK health workers are born in India. That number is 13% for IT workers. However, visa issues and costs are frequently cited as barriers to economic migration. With inflows from EU countries down, Indian citizens could play a huge role in filling these gaps.
India has a population of 1.4bn people. Additionally, it has one of the largest and fastest-growing economies. This growth includes an expanding middle class, making India an intriguing market for foreign businesses.
However, securing an FTA with New Delhi won't necessarily be straightforward. The country's protectionist economy hasn't always been receptive to these kinds of deals. However, there are signs that this approach is softening.
The UK government is targeting two significant trade areas: green energies and increased exports. Reducing tariffs on exports to India could increase imports by £6.8 billion. Currently, UK exports like cars and whiskey have duties of over 125% and 150%, respectively. Any agreement would seek to reduce these duties to encourage trade between the two countries.
With elections on the horizon in both countries, the UK and India hope that FTA discussions will be swift and productive. For Britain, India will provide an excellent partner post-Brexit. With a vast economy and a burgeoning middle class, the UK's service economy stands to benefit significantly from a closer relationship.
For India, an agreement should create opportunities for its citizens to live and work in Britain. Negotiations could include cutting the costs and restrictions that Indian citizens currently face. We at India League welcome every attempt by both nations to bring each other closer together.
President, The India League