A virtual summit of endless possibilities

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A virtual summit of endless possibilities
A file photo of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson at the G7 summit in France. The virtual summit between the two leaders tomorrow will set the tone for a buoyancy in future India-UK ties. Courtesy: Reuters

Long-awaited interface between the two leaders will address multi-dimensional strategic ties between India and the UK, and an assessment of the pandemic crisis which has engulfed India. The discussions will be held against the backdrop of the G7 foreign minister’s summit in the UK, which also includes Indian foreign minister Dr. S. Jaishankar’s bilateral visit.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s administration is battling a second, lethal wave of Covid-19 infections at home, is set to hold a virtual summit with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson tomorrow.

The summit will coincide with the visit of Indian external affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar’s visit to the UK which commences from today and will conclude on May 6.

The core principle of the virtual summit will be to address and advance multi-dimensional strategic ties between India and the UK as well as ensure a synergy on matters of regional and global importance.The UK recognises India as one of the most important powers in the Indo-Pacific

India’s current pandemic crisis will no doubt be another topic on the agenda. The UK has shipped across aid ranging from medical devices including oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India. The equipment comes from Britain's surplus stock and the first shipment arrived in New Delhi last Tuesday.

Reiterating his assistance to India, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said, "We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against COVID-19. We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time and I'm determined to make sure that the UK does everything it can to support the international community in the global fight against pandemic."

This G7 summit in London is significant because it will be the first attended in person by G7 foreign ministers for two years. Britain has also invited representatives from Australia, South Korea and South Africa as guests. Targets for climate finance and girls' education will be discussed.

Ties set for the ‘quantum leap’

UK’s gesture of aid to India, ahead of this important summit, should set the tone for what, many believe, will be fruitful discussions as both nations are poised to take a ‘quantum leap’ in their bilateral ties.

A comprehensive Roadmap 2030 will be launched during the Summit, which will set the tone for expanding and deepening India-UK cooperation over the next decade across five key areas, namely people-to-people relationship, trade and prosperity, defence and security, climate action and healthcare.

India and the UK have had a Strategic Partnership, set by high-level exchanges and a unifying of crucial policies, since 2004. These synergies will also be on display when Dr. S Jaishankar participates in the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting, for which India has been invited as a guest country. Jaishankar’s presence at the G7 meeting will be followed by a bilateral visit to the UK.

Indian external affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar and UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab will be discussing matters of bilateral interest during the former’s visit to the UK for the G7 foreign minister’s summit.
Indian external affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar and UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab will be discussing matters of bilateral interest during the former’s visit to the UK for the G7 foreign minister’s summit.Courtesy: ANI

This G7 summit in London is significant because it will be the first attended in person by G7 foreign ministers for two years. Britain has also invited representatives from Australia, South Korea and South Africa as guests. Targets for climate finance and girls' education will be discussed.

According to British foreign secretary Dominic Raab, “We'll be taking action to ensure fair access to vaccines around the world, setting global girls' education targets, agreeing ambitious action on climate change and developing new measures to prevent famine.” Raab is set to meet US secretary of state Antony Blinken who arrived in the UK today.

The UK is standing by India in its hour of crisis brought about by the devastating effects of a second, lethal, Covid-19 infection wave which is taking a serious toll on human lives across the country.

UK’s gesture of aid to India, ahead of this important summit, should set the tone for fruitful discussions as both nations are poised to take a ‘quantum leap’ in their bilateral ties. A comprehensive Roadmap 2030 will be launched during the Summit, which will set the tone for expanding and deepening India-UK cooperation over the next decade.

India had fought its way past the first wave with a government sanctioned national lockdown, coupled with stimulus and multi-dimensional reforms across various sectors. The Indian economy was turning the corner with positive forecasts by observers, healthy doses of FDI coming in and a stock market which was registering positive performances.

UK offers India comprehensive medical aid package

The second wave will force the central administration to reassess its priorities as the focus shifts to containing the rate of infections, propping up the healthcare facilities, ensuring the successful roll-out of a national vaccination programme and lowering the death rates.

India’s international allies have stepped up with assistance and the UK has been second to none in its efforts announcing yesterday that it was sending additional 1,000 ventilators from its surplus supply to Indian hospitals as part of its commitment. The UK government stated that India's fight against increasing coronavirus cases would be reinforced by the new UK government support announcement of additional ventilators in addition to 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three oxygen generation units the UK sent to India last week. "The terrible images we have seen in India in recent weeks are all the more powerful because of the close and enduring connection between the people of the UK and India," said Johnson.

"I am deeply moved by the surge of support the British people have provided to the people of India and am pleased the UK Government has been able to play our part in providing life-saving assistance. The UK will always be there for India in its time of need," he added.

According to reports, UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance have also spoken to their Indian counterparts to provide advice, insight and expertise to the Indian healthcare system in order to contain the deadly spread of the virus.

The NHS offers a hand to India

NHS England is also establishing a clinical advisory group led by Chief People Officer Prerana Isaar. The group will work with Indian institutions such as the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to share experience on managing COVID-19 outbreaks.

The group will include researchers in public and global health, alongside nursing and other health professionals who have experience of the Indian healthcare system.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab doubled down on the UK’s commitment to India saying, "This support will help urgently meet some of India's acute needs, particularly oxygen for patients. We are determined to help our Indian friends in their hour of need. We need to all work together to defeat COVID-19. No one is safe until we are all safe.”

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