G7 invite seals special India-UK partnership

G7 invite seals special India-UK partnership
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi with his British counterpart Boris Johnson during a meeting in 2019. The G7 annual summit will serve to be a platform which will solidify India-UK ties which both nations need to dial up post-Brexit.Courtesy: ANI

With closer bilateral collaborations, New Delhi has the perfect opportunity to set the global economic governance agenda.

As the UK gears up to host the G7 annual meeting in June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the summit has taken on a special meaning.

The summit not only strengthens the India-UK partnership after Brexit, but it also has a strong acknowledgement of India’s central role in the global order today – both in terms of economy and geopolitics: India’s potential and its huge market is simply too big to be ignored by the international community any more.

Post-Covid challenges

Attending the G7 summit in the UK will allow Prime Minister Modi to push India’s concerns and articulate New Delhi’s ideas for a post-Covid landscape before the leaders of the world’s most advanced nations, while burnishing his stature as a heavyweight world leader.

For India, the G7 participation along with the likes of the US, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy is also a key moment as it begins to prepare for hosting the G20 summit in 2022.

“For countries like India, the G20 is a unique global institution, where developed and developing countries have equal stature. Here, the latter can display their global political, economic and intellectual leadership on a par with the world’s most powerful countries. It is the agenda-setting body that guides the international financial institutions and global standard-setting body that develops and enforces rules of global economic governance,” said Akshay Mathur, former director of research at Gateway House.

That intellectual leadership has been possible due to India’s sustained efforts in a wide divergence of industries and sectors – and most recently was on display when Alok Sharma, President-designate of 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), witnessed India's ambitious work on renewable energy. Sharma, who held vital discussions with Indian government leaders, businesses and civil society during his two-day visit to New Delhi, congratulated PM Modi on his personal leadership on climate action and his recent commitment to deliver 450GW of renewable energy by 2030.

Global leadership

According to an official statement issued by the British High Commission, he also welcomed Prime Minister Modi's global leadership in setting up the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, which the UK co-chairs.

"I am inspired by the resolve I have seen across Indian Government and wider society to tackle the impacts of climate change. This visit has bolstered our already strong partnership with India which is important as we look ahead to COP26."

- Alok Sharma, President-designate of 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)

"I am inspired by the resolve I have seen across Indian Government and wider society to tackle the impacts of climate change. This visit has bolstered our already strong partnership with India which is important as we look ahead to COP26," Sharma said, adding: “I firmly believe that powerful action from India will be a catalyst for change, encouraging others to be more ambitious in their approaches to protecting both people and planet.”

President of COP 26, Alok Sharma with Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Information & Broadcasting and Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise, Prakash Javadekar. Battling climate change and focusing on renewables is only one of the aspects of the India-UK partnership.
President of COP 26, Alok Sharma with Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Information & Broadcasting and Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise, Prakash Javadekar. Battling climate change and focusing on renewables is only one of the aspects of the India-UK partnership.Courtesy: ANI

While this was Sharma’s first visit to Asia as full-time COP26 President, he interacted with Indian Minister of External Affairs, Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, RK Singh, Sherpa to the G7 and G20, Suresh Prabhu, and India's lead climate negotiator, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar. "We want to use COP26 to drive forward a global shift towards renewable energy, and so I am delighted to have seen this pioneering UK-India climate collaboration in action," the COP26 President said.

Delegates at a India-UK Foreign Office meeting. India and the UK can thus look forward to sealing the broad frameworks of a free trade agreement soon.
Delegates at a India-UK Foreign Office meeting. India and the UK can thus look forward to sealing the broad frameworks of a free trade agreement soon.Courtesy: ANI

Deeper UK-India relations

But battling climate change and focusing on renewables is but only one of the aspects of the deep India-UK partnership.

With closer relations, India has the perfect opportunity to set the global economic governance agenda and make it inclusive – as has been shown by its efforts during the pandemic.

“Indian business and industry is becoming a noteworthy competitor globally. The country’s domestic economy is starting to pick up, thanks to serious structural economic reforms undertaken. The central government is economically stronger, and the states are starting to learn about economic independence. This means they will pull their own weight more, making them contributive and structurally more aligned with their global counterparts,” said Mathur.

Thanks to the momentum generated by the recent close collaborations, India and the UK can thus look forward to sealing the broad frameworks of a free trade agreement soon.

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