Rajnath Singh to visit U.K., the first by a defence minister in 22 years

Syllabus: GS-II

Subject: International Relations

Topic: Bilateral relations involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will embark on a two-day visit to the U.K. to rejuvenate strategic and security ties between, including possible collaboration to jointly develop fighter jets and other military platforms.

Synopsis:

  • It is expected that discussions will be on a wide range of issues in the spheres of defence, security and industrial cooperation.
  • The talks would largely focus on sharing of critical technology and expanding bilateral industrial defence cooperation.
  • In April 2022, Prime Ministers of both countries had agreed on a new and expanded India-UK defence partnership.
  • UK also created an Open General Export Licence (OGEL) for India to “reduce bureaucracy and slashing delivery times for defence procurement”.
India-UK relationship:

·            upgraded to Strategic Partnership in September 2004 and Elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2021.

·            Major trading partners. UK is listed 19th among the top 25 trading partners of India.

·            The India diaspora in UK is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country.

Major Issues:

·            Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Negotiations: differences over tariff reductions, particularly in agriculture and dairy, and                         intellectual property rights.

·            Pro-Khalistan Activities in the UK

·            Human Rights: The UK has frequently raised concerns about human rights issues in India.

·            Russia-Ukraine War: This divergence in strategic views. India’s neutrality and continued imports of Russian oil, whereas UK                     supports Ukraine.

Conclusion: Despite the challenges, the India-UK relationship remains strong, anchored by historical ties, shared values, and growing economic and strategic interests.

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