Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his ability to engage with leaders across the globe and strike a connect that goes beyond Tier 1 diplomacy. It has been proven time and again, that India’s position as a global stakeholder has only improved under his leadership across dimensions diplomatic, security, economic, cultural and trade. This once again came to fore when Boris Jonhson, wrote, “India is an economic powerhouse and set to become the third largest economy by the middle of the century, with annual economic growth far outpacing the EU”.
India’s economic growth and continual progress is aligned to Narendra Modi’s vision of making India an economic powerhouse, a sentiment that has been repeatedly echoed by Boris Jonhson. Narendra Modi’s concerted efforts to tell the world of India’s demographic and intellectual capital have struck the right note with the global community.
“The sooner we leave the EU and take back control of our trade policy, the sooner we can strike a new trade deal with India that will deliver new jobs, growth and prosperity for both our countries. Securing this new and improved trading relationship with our friends in India will be a priority for me”, Boris Johnson
Similar to PM Modi, who has always believed that India’s soft power has the potential to reset age-old conventions, Boris Johnson too, believes in India’s rich cultural equity. Since he has had a long-standing personal tie with the country, he not only acknowledges the need for deeper ties that go beyond agreements, he also sees the culture of two nations as syncretic as opposed to one purely transactional in nature.
At a media conclave in March 2019, Boris Johnson described PM as a “firecracker” and a “political phenomenon”. He also mentioned that PM met him in 2015, when he was a Mayor, which perhaps reflects that Narendra Modi could see Boris Johnson’s leadership skills, before anyone else. Even after Narendra Modi secured a second-term with a thumping mandate, in his congratulatory message, he appreciated the PM’s vision for New India and his role in forgoing closer ties.
He has espoused India – UK relations as an “An incredible synchresis of ideas, people, goods and services, an ecstasy of cross-pollination and cross-fertilisation that is represented at so many levels, including cricket, tea, the ‘bhangra’ beat, chicken tikka masala, but also the glorious and ever-changing language of English”.
Against the backdrop of Boris Johnson’s elevation, India could also hope for faster extradition of offenders from UK, including the high-profile Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi.
There is little doubt that Johnson is eager to fast-track Indo-UK relations through both, trade and investment. With UK being the largest G-20 investor in India, Johnson had once expressed disappointment on restrictions on FDI in multi-brand retail in India as it prevented British brands from investing in Indian markets. By proposing immigration on the lines of the Australian-style points-based system and a road-map to multiply trade volumes, it can be concluded with reasonable certainty that relations between the two countries will be based on collaboration that will result in mutual socio-economic dividends.