Indian prime minister Narendra Modi arrived in London on Thursday (12) for a much-anticipated maiden visit to the UK that will see him hold talks with British leaders, including his counterpart David Cameron.
Modi flew into the British capital on his three-day visit with a hectic schedule aimed at boosting Indo-UK economic ties.
“Reached London. India-UK ties will receive a great impetus. Will attend a wide range of programmes in UK,” he tweeted.
Welcoming Modi, Cameron tweeted: “Welcome to the UK @narendramodi from Britain’s Indian community #ModiInUK.”
Modi was received at the Heathrow Airport by Priti Patel, Cameron’s diaspora champion and employment minister; Hugo Swire, minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO); and James Bevan, British high commissioner to India.
The Indian leader will be greeted by Cameron with a guard of honour at the Treasury Quadrangle near 10 Downing Street this afternoon before a nearly a 90-minute meeting.
After the talks, Modi and Cameron will address a joint press conference at the FCO.
Ahead of his departure, he had tweeted: “Leaving for UK. I am hopeful this visit will strengthen economic ties between India and UK & bring more investment to India. #makeinindia.”
A brief stop to pay tribute at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament Square will be followed by speeches at the Houses of Parliament and then at the Guildhall in the City of London.
Modi’s talks with Cameron will carry on at the British prime minister’s country residence of Chequers in Buckinghamshire, where he is being hosted overnight.
The Indian prime minister returns to London on Friday for a CEOs round-table which is likely to include representatives from major British companies like Rolls-Royce and Vodafone.
The pomp and ceremony attached to the visit is expected to include a special tricolour flypast by the Red Arrows Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team over the House of Commons before Modi sits down for lunch with the Queen ahead of his mega diaspora address at the iconic Wembley Stadium in north London.
Modi heads to Ankara to attend the G20 summit on Saturday after inaugurating a new statue of 12th century philosopher Basaveshwara as well as a new Ambedkar memorial in London.
A visit to the Tata Motors’ owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) factory in Solihull, in the West Midlands, will be the last item on his UK agenda.
Meanwhile, a number of groups have announced a “day of protest” to coincide with Modi’s arrival, including a ‘Modi Not Welcome’ campaign by the Awaaz Network as well as a protest organised by CasteWatchUK outside Downing Street and then moving on to Parliament Square.
Another group of protesters are expected to assemble outside Wembley Stadium, demanding that the Indian government lift the ban on the documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ by British filmmaker Leslie Udwin.
“An appropriate policing plan is in place. We are in dialogue with various protest groups to facilitate their requests. No restrictions have been placed on the route,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.
The UK ranks 18th in the list of India’s top 25 trading partners and two-way trade in 2014-15 stood at $14.34 billion (£9.4bn).
Britain is the third largest inward investor in India, after Mauritius and Singapore, with a cumulative equity investment of $22.26bn (£14.66bn) between 2000-2015.
The UK ranks first among the G20 and India undertook 122 FDI (foreign direct investment) projects in the country in 2014-15. In fact, the UK attracts more Indian investment than the rest of the European Union put together.
Indian businesses in the UK employ around 110,000 people, 65,000 of whom work for the Tata Group.
Cameron has described the visit as “extraordinary”, which is not simply about celebrating the economic ties but “actually building a thoroughly modern partnership between our two great countries”.
“It’s an opportunity for two countries, tied by history, people and values, to work together to overcome the biggest challenges of our age,” Cameron said.