Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced protests on the streets of London in the wake of two horrendous rape crimes in India recently, something the Indian prime minister's otherwise glamour-filled foreign trips have not seen earlier. A strongly opined piece in The Guardian called India a 'republic of fear' and sought the UK to put pressure on Modi.
But things could go in a completely opposite direction in reality. The UK is busy at the moment securing its trade and business ties post Brexit that would take effect in 11 months from now and the Theresa May government is trying its best to boost the UK's trade ties with the Commonwealth nations as a close alternative to the UK-EU business ties although the gap between the two is huge.
Since India is the largest economy in the Commonwealth outside the UK, it is very unlikely that the May government would choose a path of confrontation with India at this delicate hour of Brexit.
Britain and India have already laid the ground for a possible post-Brexit bilateral free trade agreement and signed several commercial deals worth up to 1 billion pounds, Downing Street said, according to a Guardian report that came out on Wednesday, April 18.
Britain and India have laid the ground for a possible post-Brexit bilateral free trade deal and signed off on a series of commercial agreements worth up to £1bn, according to Downing Street. The May government has already shown an urgency to secure the trade deal with India though the latter has sought more access for Indian nationals to the UK and said it was in no rush to do the same.
However, Modi turned out at the Commonwealth Summit for it serves India's own strategic interests since the Commonwealth is one platform where China is absent and helps India's cause of gelling well with the West.
Modi became the first Indian prime minister to attend the Commonwealth summit since 2009 and he was given a special treatment by the hosts for obvious reasons. Nobody wants to miss out on the grand economic potentials that India offers.
The EU is also holding talks with India over a free trade deal, an issue that Modi was set to raise with German Chancellor Angela Merkel en route India from the UK. The UK though has prioritised the free trade deal with India but it has also acknowledged that London could not sign a new deal with New Delhi till the Brexit transition concludes.
UK had removed boycott of Modi in 2012
But speaking about the possibility of the UK reminding Modi of the atrocities that are being committed in India, it is very unlikely that there would be one. In October 2012, the UK had lifted its diplomatic boycott of Modi which it had imposed in 2002 in the wake of the Gujarat pogroms when Modi was the chief minister of the state.
The UK authorities had said then that the decision of lifting the ban of Modi was "in line with the British government's stated objective of improving bilateral relations with India", a report in Guardian said.
The report also said a large private sector investment in Gujarat from the UK appeared to have a major factor in the decision.
"This is about Gujarat, not about who is chief minister. One reason is to broaden and advance commercial interests. There are opportunity costs to not engaging. But we are looking forward not back. There is a large Gujarati immigrant community in Britain," the Guardian quoted a British official on Delhi as saying.
If it was about Gujarat then, it is about India now and not about who is the prime minister.