In November, we will be delighted to welcome Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on his first official visit to the United Kingdom.
Prime minister Modi’s visit will present a formidable opportunity for Britain to further its strong relationship with India, and for both nations to build on a shared vision.
Since his victory in the Indian general election in 2014, prime minister Modi has initiated several social and economic reforms with the intention of improving life for the people of India. He has launched nation-wide programmes to make housing more affordable, to produce more green energy, and to grant wider access to transport. The introduction of a series of ‘in India’ programmes will create more jobs and invite more foreign investment. Prime minister Modi’s faith in India’s ability to innovate and to provide internationally competitive services and products has made him the biggest reformer since the opening up of the Indian economy in 1991.
India and the UK have great potential to learn from each other. By visiting India four times in the last parliament, prime minister David Cameron showed how important the country is to him, to the Conservative party, and to our whole nation. Chancellor George Osborne, foreign secretary Philip Hammond and cabinet minister Oliver Letwin have all followed suit, and numerous collaborations have been set up in the last few years.
The India-UK Financial Partnership, for example, has served to enhance financial service links, with central offices in London and Mumbai. The ‘GREAT Collaborations’ project aspired to promote cooperation in everything from energy, healthcare and advanced manufacturing to skills, smart cities and infrastructure.
Prime minister Modi’s visit will present an opportune moment to discuss more of India and the UK’s shared interests. As centres of innovation, and as internationally leading economies, the value of further cooperation between our two nations cannot be overstated.
Whether it is tackling cyber crime, designing urban development, or creating new trade opportunities, both India and the UK will benefit from close friendship.
Earlier this year, we were honoured to host Arun Jaitley, India’s minister of finance, as we unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. The statue, as Cameron said at the unveiling ceremony, celebrates the very special relationship between India and the UK, and prime minister Modi’s and Jaitley’s visits illustrate that this friendship is appreciated and respected by both our governments.
In my capacity as chairman of the Conservative party, I hope that relations between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Conservative party can continue to develop and grow. Prime minister Modi’s visit, as well as marking an important moment in the history of our two nations, also marks a very special moment in the history of our two centre-right parties.
When prime minister Modi arrives in November, he will receive one of the biggest receptions any foreign head of government has ever received in the UK. The leader of the oldest of the world’s modern democracies will be meeting the leader of the world’s largest democracy, and this is a cause of celebration. It will be a remarkable moment, celebrating a meeting between our two great nations as we look to the next chapter of our history together.
Lord Andrew Feldman is the chairman of the Conservative party.