Britain targets India: From courted to courtier

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France, Germany and Canada in early April this year in his first official trip to Europe. Rafale fighter jets, increasing manufacturing through the Make in India campaign, urging the EU to move forward on the stalled FTA, and attracting trade and investment featured on the agenda.

While PM Modi has stated that he “usually tries to visit two to four nations together” in convenient clusters, the UK that has been desperately courting India was missing on his travel agenda. While Britain erects a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at London’s Parliament Square in a desperate attempt to entice India, amid all the hysteria in India involving Modi’s visits to relevant countries and vice versa, Britain has been greatly sidelined.

In 2014, five prominent UK politicians made official visits to India from Foreign Secretary William Hague to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Deputy PM Nick Clegg. Indeed, Prime Minister David Cameron himself has visited India three times since assuming office in 2010, including twice in 2013, professing that India is Britain’s “partner of choice” and “relations with India are at the top of the UK’s foreign policy priorities”.

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