London, Nov 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set for his maiden three-day visit to Britain on November 12. During the visit PM Modi will meet Queen Elizabeth on lunch, Prime Minister David Cameron and address Indian community at Wembley Stadium on November 13.
Grand reception at Wimbley Stadium is seen as biggest political rally in the history of the UK. In an exclusive interview Gita Gordon, Lib Dem regional party executive member and a member of the Social Liberal Forum, talked to OneIndia about PM Modi's visit to the United Kingdom. Gordon is a British national of Indian origin.
Here are the excerpts of Gita Gordon's interview:
Question: Britain which imposed a diplomatic freeze on Modi for 10 years over the anti-Muslim riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, is now eagerly awaiting to welcome him, being an Indian-origin how do you see this change?
Answer: India is the biggest democracy in the world. Active engagement between the two countries on a varity of levels, on various issues from top to bottom will help strengthen the relationships, to my mind that is incredibly important. We need to make a case for human rights, however, at the same time we also need to make the case that trade is an important precursor to human rights. That is why, I hope the visit of the Indian PM will help us do. We hope there is a vigorous engagement at all levels and we all play our part.
Q: Priti Patel, the senior most Indian-origin minister in Britain has said Narendra Modi's first visit to the UK as the Prime Minister will be a chance for the two countries to take their "special relationship into the modern context". Do you agree? How is the relation going to strengthen?
A: I cannot speak on behalf of Priti Patel, my view is that the two countries have shared a long standing relationship. We need to build on that for the new generation. As I said earlier, that trade is absolutely vital; a precursor to strong foundations of any relationships. India is one of the biggest democracy's in the world, we need to work together for the new generation and more importantly we modernise many of the values we share together and work closely on our shared agenda.
Q: Has India started regaining position on global map under PM Modi's regime?
A: Over the past ten years most of the media has repeatedly reported on the rise of China. What is actually under reported is the rise of India. Not just under the current Prime Minister, I would argue that India has been on the rise for past ten years. It is a very welcome news that india is on the path to progress. The buying potential of Indians has been unleashed in the global market. India indeed does hold a prominent position within Asia. The impending visit of Mr Modi will bring India sharply into focus into British media.
Q: India-U.K. trade has still a lot of catching up to do, with the two countries setting a target in 2010 of doubling bilateral trade to £23 billion in 2015. The current level is well short of it. Do you think this visit may yield some fruitful results?
A: Indeed, I assume that it would. I assume that trade deals will be signed, during the visit. It that case this will help foster trade deals and long term relationships.
Q: Do you really believe that Modi will walk the talk to do away all bottlenecks doing business within India? How hopeful is UK about Make In India?
How UK and India are planning to resolve sticky issues like visa as UK recently announced its new visa policy that bars overseas students from outside the European Union to work while they study.
A: What I believe is, it is very important is to try and cut as much red tape as possible to encourage trade. On occasion, it might be difficult to work on international businesses, with another country . I hope that the embassies of the two countries could play a key role to encourage new businesses and explore and engage, especially, new markets in india.
As far as I am aware there isn't much difficulty for the overseas students outside the European Union to work certain number of hours/part time while they study. I am not sure about the above comment that you make.
Q: British MPs want to raise human rights issues, ban on the documentary 'India's Daughter' with Indian PM, do you think it is right to raise this issue when UK itself has a record of 11 rapes of adult in an hour.
A: Britain, clearly, has one of the best Human Rights record of any country. It is incredibly important that the politicians of all countries, all stripes and nature and ideology stand up and make the case for fundamental human rights and women's rights. Not just Britain or India but all countries should be welcomed, standing up for Human Rights. Any person from any party who does so, should be welcomed.
Q: Religious intolerance incidents in India will jeopardise foreign investments in India?
A: Intolerance of any form affects trade and business and counteracts how a country is looked at. An overwhelming majority of British peoples' views of India are based on our common values, tolerance, decency, democracy, community. That is indeed the overwhelming view of British people towards India. It is hoped that individual cases of religious intolerance is treated with seriousness that it requires.
Q: How are India-UK going to fight together against rising influence of ISIS? Do you think PM Cameron will raise this issue with PM Modi?
A: I imagine that the prime minister will raise many geo-political concerns with Mr Modi. I am not aware of their itinerary, whether it will be regarding the rising influence of ISIS , I do not know. However I assume that they will be doing lots of things together, like sharing intelligence I hope they will work together to tackle extremism where we may find it. I assume that they will work together to fight the threat to moderate democratic views anywhere in the world.
Q: Is UK planning any investment in education sector in India on the lines of Germany?
A: Britain has invested in higher education sector in many Asian countries including India and is still involved in the process of working with various countries in furthering education. It is up to the universities and the governments to decide whether they need to support institutions or to invest / help them. Along with trade, education is also an important precursor to building good relations between countries. I am glad that India and UK share values regarding education.
Q: Are you going to hear PM Modi at Wembley stadium?
A: I would love to attend. We currently have some by-elections in the near future for which we are working hard at the moment. I am involved in some of them. In the coming weeks I am supporting my team in a nearby constituency. Hence, I am unfortunately unable to attend the event due to prior commitments. I will, however, be catching up through the media, like many others in Britain.