Britain will raise the issue of alleged human rights violations in India as well as reports of growing intolerance in Indian society during the forthcoming three-day visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, foreign secretary Philip Hammond said here on Thursday.
Speaking to newspersons, Hammond said a package of medium-sized ‘deliverables’ will be announced during the visit, and added that Britain was ready to “sweep away” past obstacles in deepening its civil nuclear relationship with India.
When asked if a Moody’s Analytics report on rise in ethnic tensions in India would be discussed during the visit, Hammond said, “Yes, I am sure in all our meetings, with everybody we come in contact with, we always talk about issues of mutual concern.” Moody’s has said it stands by its report.
He added: “I am sure Prime Minister Modi will have issues he wants to raise around the Indian diaspora in the UK, and I am sure Prime Minister Cameron would want to ask about some of the issues…just mentioned, because they are clearly relevant to Prime Minister Modi’s plans for the development of the Indian economy and the opening of India to the outside world, and securing India’s sustainable development”.
In previous bilateral talks, India has often raised the issue of anti-Indian forces being allowed to function and raise funds in Britain. There are also concerns that Britain has not been forthcoming in recent years on the issue of India’s civil nuclear needs.
Hammond said: “We know that we can play a significant role in (India’s) civil nuclear programme. We are pulling all the stops to make sure we can codify a collaboration that allows us to work together in the future. Our prime minister is clear that he wants to sweep away any obstacles that we had in the past to deepening and strengthening this relationship”.
“Over some years discussions around the civil nuclear programme have run into some problems that we’ve had in our own systems, which we have now made a concerted effort to clear out of the way, so that we can develop our civil nuclear partnership with India in a constructive way”, he added.
On the “very strong and growing” security collaboration with India, he said that it had “undoubtedly already saved both Indian and British lives”, but did not go into details.
“Hawk trainers will be the one of the subjects within the defence package that we want to talk about. This was always seen as an important part of the defence collaboration. Defence aviation is a very important of the collaboration, and Rolls Royce is very keen to do more in India”, Hammond said.
Besides defence aviation, he said financial services and financial technology were some of the key areas that could “play into” Modi’s ‘Make in India’ agenda. Hammond expected that most of the deals to be signed during the visit would be with India’s large private sector.
“It’s going to be a spectacular visit in visual terms largely because of the huge diaspora event that is going to be held at Wembley, which will provide iconic images of the visit. It is also extremely important for our bilateral relationship, which is different with India than with any other country because of the huge Indian population in the UK”, he said.
The India relationship, he said, was “completely different compared to China”, because of the long-standing and deep people-to-people relationship nurtured by the Indian population in the UK.
“There is a real people-to-people dimension to it that we just don’t have in relationships with countries like China”, he said.