By: Shubham Ghosh
Foreign secretary James Cleverly on Wednesday (1) met his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi where he has reached to attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting. The duo spoke on a range of issues, including the commencement of the Young Professionals Scheme (YPS). They also spoke over the India-UK 2030 Roadmap which looks to bolster the two nations’ relations in areas such as defence and security, trade and investment.
Their meeting took place ahead of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled for Thursday (2).
“Began the morning with a bilateral meeting with Foreign Secretary @JamesCleverly of the UK. Reviewed the progress in our relationship since our last discussion. Noted in particular the commencement of the Young Professional Scheme. Also exchanged views on the global situation as well as the G20 agenda,” Jaishankar said in a tweet.
Cleverly also raised the issue of the recent income-tax searches conducted at the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai with Jaishankar and according to sources, he was told that all entities operating in India must comply fully with relevant laws.
Speaking exclusively to the Asian News International, Cleverly said the BBC is an independent organisation which is separate from the UK government. He said he hadn’t seen the broadcaster’s documentary series on Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and that he enjoys a strong personal relationship with Jaishankar. “Relationship between UK and India growing stronger by the day,” he added.
The BBC documentary created a major row in India in the recent times with the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party calling it a propaganda piece.
Later in the day, Cleverly was set to visit the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi to flag off the YPS under which both the UK and India will allow up to 3,000 British and as many Indian nationals a year the right to live and work in the other country for up to two years.
The diplomat will also announce the creation of the UK’s first tech envoy to the Indo-Pacific region, which will boost ties with India as a priority. The envoy is the second of its kind to be announced by London after the appointment of the one to the US in late 2020 and reiterated its commitment to the region and tech diplomacy.
The new tech envoy role will boost the UK’s status as a science and tech superpower, a press release from the foreign, Commonwealth and development office (FCDO) said. The envoy will work with the country’s partners in the region on areas of shared interest, including setting global technology standards and helping to solve challenges through innovative technology, it added.
Cleverly said, “India is a hugely important partner to the UK and the deeper ties we are forging now will help to grow the UK economy and boost our industries for the future. This landmark migration scheme will enable the brightest and best in both our countries to benefit from new opportunities.
“India is also an emerging global leader on technology and there are immense opportunities for better collaboration between us in this sector. That is why we will be basing our first Tech Envoy to the Indo-Pacific region, to maximise the tech expertise of both countries.”
India has the world’s third-highest number of tech unicorns and start-ups, with 108 start-ups gaining the unicorn status of a private company valued at over $1 billion (£829 million).
On Thursday, Cleverly will attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting to work with partners to advance global efforts on food and energy security, climate change and development. He will also continue to call Russia out at the G20 and work with partners to mitigate the global impacts of Russian aggression in Ukraine. If the war were to end today, the effects of the exacerbated food insecurity would still run into 2027, the FCDO said.
The foreign secretary will also address an India-Europe business event in the capital where he will reaffirm the UK’s commitment to conclude a Free Trade Agreement with India.
With more links than almost any country in the Indo-Pacific region, the UK-India trading relationship is already worth £34 billion, growing by £10 billion in one year.