Boris Johnson India Visit in 2022: “Immense privilege to come to the Ashram of this extraordinary man”: UK PM
On Thursday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson landed in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad for a two-day visit to India, focusing on stepping up cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, giving momentum to negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries as well as enhancing defence ties.
He began his long-pending trip to India, which was delayed due to the pandemic. Boris Johnson was on a two-day visit to India, during which he focused on economic ties and the war in Ukraine. Johnson started his unforgettable holiday in Ahmedabad. He was scheduled to meet some of the leading business group leaders and discuss the UK and India’s growing commercial, people’s links and trade.
This was the first time a UK Prime Minister would be visiting Gujarat, India’s fifth-largest state and the ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian population in the UK. On Friday morning, Boris Johnson attended a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan and later a wreath-laying at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi.
The UK Prime Minister will then travel to New Delhi to meet Minister Modi on April 22. The leaders have been holding in-depth talks on the UK and India’s strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership, which bolstered close collaboration and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
On day 1 of his India visit, the UK prime minister is expected to announce investments in science and technology collaborations in Gujarat. On Friday, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi and hold talks on economic, security and defence ties.
The UK prime minister hopes to strike new economic deals between Britain and its vast former colony worth over £1 billion in areas including software engineering and health.
He also aims to coax India away from Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, maintained that Britain wants to “provide alternative options for defense procurement and energy for India to diversify its supply chains away from Russia” without lecturing the government “on what course of action was best for them.”
Winston Churchill called Gandhi a “half-naked fakir” as the latter was opposed to sending Indian soldiers to fight for Britain in the Second World War and even introduced the Quit India movement happened in 1942.
Gandhi’s call to use the charkha, the spinning wheel and avoid all the foreign goods, like cloth, focused on the textile sector in Manchester. Charkha was considered a very potent symbol of the anti-colonial struggle.
He also left a note in the visitor’s book, saying, “It is an immense privilege to come to the Ashram of this extraordinary man, and to know how he has mobilised such simple principles of truth and non-violence to change the world for the better.”
The Ashram trust gave him two books, one of them an unpublished guide for the advantage of all those seeking to live in the UK, that was penned by Mahatma Gandhi himself.
“One of the books given to Johnson was “Guide to London”, an unpublished book that has all of the significant Gandhi’s suggestions on how to live or survive in London. It is known to be the very first-ever book penned by Mahatma Gandhi but never got into the hands of the public.
On Thursday morning, Johnson arrived at the cultural city, Ahmedabad, to start his experience with an India visit and was thankful for a grand welcome from the four-km route from the airport to the hotel where he was staying Ahmedabad. He was even received at the Ahmedabad airport by the Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and Governor Acharya Devvrat.
The UK Prime Minister was greeted by many troupes who performed their traditional and authentic Gujarati dances with music at the airport and even along the road as he headed towards his hotel.
The roadshow was started outside the airport and even passed through Ashram Road through Riverfront. There were 40 platforms erected at the regular intervals on the four-km stretch from the Airport way to the five-star hotel on Ashram Road. Again, troupes performed traditional Indian dances to welcome Mr Johnson.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed his support for more skilled visas for Indians as part of the efforts to expedite the ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated between the two countries.
Addressing the House of Commons for his weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Johnson said the trip to Ahmedabad and New Delhi would build on India being invited as a guest country for the G7 Summit hosted by the UK in Cornwall in June last year.
“I will be travelling to India to deepen the strategic trade, defence and people- to-people ties between our two countries, building on India’s involvement in the Carbis Bay G7 summit,” Johnson told members of Parliament.
He said I would see Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, meet Indian businesspeople investing in the UK, and visit British investments in India. Prime Minister Modi had virtually addressed the G7 Summit at Carbis Bay as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted his travel plans.
Later in the year, the two leaders met in person when Modi travelled to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit in November. It is again expected that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will feature noticeable during the dual talks between the leaders when Johnson was in New Delhi on Friday.
Meanwhile, with the third round of (FTA) free trade agreement discussions being planned in Delhi for next week, Johnson’s visit is also expected to push trade talks toward an end-of-year agreement timeline. Unlike previous prime ministerial visits, Johnson is not accompanied by a business delegation from the UK.
The visit coincides with a significant vote in the House of Commons on Thursday when MPs will decide if Johnson should be referred to the Committee of Privileges over whether he knowingly misled Parliament over the party gate scandal involving lockdown-breaching parties at Downing Street.
Last year, PM Modi Johnson totally agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than 530 million pounds in investment into the UK and committing to a deeper bilateral relationship across trade, health, climate, defence and security connecting their people.
India was to be identified as having a priority relationship with the United Kingdom in 2021, Integrated Review. It was invited by the UK as a guest to their last year’s G7 event in Carbis Bay.
The third round of discussions will begin next week, and the two sides are keen to double bilateral trade by 2030.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma