Indian Prime Minister Modi on 3 day visit to UK to strengthen bilateral ties

Defense and Tech FDI Top Indian Agenda

LONDON (TIP): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in London, November 12 on his three-day maiden visit to the United Kingdom. “My visit to UK is the first Prime Ministerial visit in almost a decade. I have had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister David Cameron at various international forums and our meetings have been productive. Prime Minister Cameron is a good friend of India’s, and we in India have had the privilege of welcoming him thrice during his first term as Prime Minister,” Modi had written in a Facebook post ahead of the visit.

At the start of Modi’s visit, Cameron promised to “set this relationship free” from its colonial past, referring to the complex ties between the two nations dating back to Britain’s time as colonial ruler until the mid- 20th century. Cameron said relations between the two countries, once “imprisoned by the past,” were now a “modern, dynamic partnership” between the world’s fifth-largest economy – Britain – and India, which could soon rank third. Cameron said he wanted to create “a stronger economic partnership, a stronger defense partnership and a stronger global partnership.”

Cameron said the two countries were expected to sign 9 billion pounds ($14 billion, 12.7 billion euros) worth of deals during the visit, including a plan for London’s financial district to become a center of offshore rupee bonds. Other agreements expected to be signed during the visit covered financing for Indian infrastructure, cooperation in nuclear energy, and joint research in new technology.

Hailing billions in new business deals and investments between the India and the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to modernize India, the world’s largest democracy. Modi remarked that the visit was “a huge moment for our two great nations.”

Putting economic engagement at the centrestage of their relations, India and the United Kingdom said Thursday that they will sign commercial deals of 9.2 billion pounds over the next three days as Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the first bilateral visit to the country by an Indian prime minister since 2006. New Delhi promised a new “fast-track mechanism” as the two sides firmed up at least 27 deals, covering sectors ranging from banking to energy, skill development to environment. The UK said it plans to invest in three Indian smart cities and the two sides also announced the signing of a civilian nuclear agreement.

Modi’s three-day trip is not an official state visit since Modi is not a head of state, but he was nevertheless welcomed with great honors, including a fly-past by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows and a lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 13, 2015 arrived at the Buckingham Palace where he was received by Queen Elizabeth II for lunch on the second day of his three-day visit to Britain.

“Her Majesty The Queen with PM
@narendramodi at Buckingham Palace,” PMO India tweeted.

“Building on the bonds of history. PM
@narendra Modi calls on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs.

After his lunch with the Queen, Mr Modi was shown a collection of items from the palace’s stores including a shawl given to the Queen by Mahatma Gandhi in 1947 as a wedding present.

In an exchange of gifts, Mr Modi gave the Queen photographs of her visit to India in 1961 and a gift box including Darjeeling tea from West Bengal and silk Tanchoi scarves from his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi.

In return, Mr Modi was presented with a silver dish and signed photos.

Earlier, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they would go on tour of India next spring.

Prior to this, Modi, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, attended a meeting of the UK-India CEO Forum at Lancaster House. The two countries have sealed £9bn worth of commercial deals in the retail, logistics, energy, finance, IT, education and health sectors, which No 10 said had created or safeguarded 1,900 jobs.

Speaking at an event marking the Indian diaspora’s contribution to the UK, he said it was “a historic day for a great partnership between two great nations”.

He had been greeted by huge cheers from the 60,000-strong crowd as he arrived on stage with UK PM David Cameron.

At the start of his speech in London, Mr Modi said: “I would like to ensure you that the dreams you have dreamt – and the dreams every Indian has dreamt – India is capable of fulfilling these dreams. There is no reason for India to remain a poor country.” He also mentioned the need for FDI in India and equated it as FDI = First Develop India.

Mr Cameron introduced his Indian counterpart to the stage, he said the UK-India relationship was “about our potential”, and said both countries were “united by the scale of our ambition”.

“Team India, team UK – together we are a winning combination,” he added.

The crowds applauded when he said it would not be long before there was a British Indian prime minister in Downing Street.

Asserting that Narendra Modi has proved his critics wrong, British Prime Minister David Cameron today said that his Indian counterpart has worked tremendously after forming the government in New Delhi and said ‘acche din zaroor aayega’.

Cameron, who was addressing the Indian diaspora at the Wembley stadium here, said that Modi had rightly said ‘acche din aane wale hain’ prior to the elections in the country.

“They said a ‘chai wala’ would never govern the largest democracy, but he proved them wrong. He rightly said ‘acche din aane wale hain’. But with his energy, with his vision, with his ambition. I will go on further and say ‘ acche din zaroor aayega’,” he said amid a thumping applause from the crowd.

Mr Modi, who greeted the gathered crowd with a “Namaste”, gave his speech mainly in Hindi, aside from a short welcoming opening in English.

It is worth noting that Modi  has spent one in every eight days overseas since his election last year.