When India’s prime minister Narendra Modi came to London last year, 60,000 people came to Wembley Stadium to listen to him.
That is the largest reception a foreign leader has ever received on a visit to Britain. And it speaks volumes about the deep ties that exist between Britain and India.
These ties are emotional, historical, in many cases familial—but they are also economic and financial.
They explain why David Cameron made India the first country he visited with a major trade delegation when he became prime minister of the UK in 2010.
They are the reason that Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley announced last month that the first ever Indian masala bond will be issued in London by the Indian Railway Finance Corporation, with the proceeds used to upgrade India’s rail network.
Those ties underpin the ambitious package of deals between the UK and India that the Chancellor announced at last month’s eighth UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue, deepening our collaboration across key sectors including financial services, infrastructure and technology.
And they are the reason that we were in India this week, at the time of the Make-in-India celebration, to build on our recent progress and enhance the economic and financial links between our two countries.
Because while we are rightly proud of the UK and India’s collective successes in recent years, we also believe we are just at the start of a long journey. India is fast becoming an economic giant on the world stage. Already the fastest-growing major economy in the world, and projected to be the world’s third-biggest economy after the US and China, India has a youthful population of 1.25 billion people, and notable hubs of expertise in crucial growth sectors such as digital and telecoms.
As its growth story continues, Britain is well-positioned to build an even stronger partnership with India.
By strengthening our economic links with India, further integrating our markets, and deepening the cooperation between our financial services sectors, we can create more jobs, more investment and higher living standards.
Working more closely together is win-win. The UK invests more in India than any other G20 country. In turn, India emerged as the third-largest investor in the UK last year.
We can also offer India something unique to support its continued growth: the expertise and capital of the most international and advanced financial centre in the world.
This week, we moved on developing these links further. We welcome the next steps on developing a new UK-India infrastructure fund, which we want to see build links between the City of London and India and help underpin India’s rapid economic growth. We had good discussions on these, and other, shared areas of interest, with railways minister Suresh Prabhu, minister for road transport and highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari, MoS (finance) Jayant Sinha, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, and SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, such as financial inclusion, regulatory reform, financial technology and the raising of finance in the UK to fuel India’s growth.
The economic ties Britain has with India are already strong and enduring. The UK is one of the biggest architects of PM Modi’s vision to Make-in-India. Last year, our prime ministers launched GREAT for Collaboration, an ambitious campaign to showcase and promote collaborations of mutual benefit ranging from manufacturing, infrastructure, and smart cities to healthcare and creative industries, to name a few. We are looking forward to steering new initiatives agreed between our two governments that will strengthen economic and financial cooperation between our two great nations.
Baldwin is an MP and UK economic secretary to the Treasury, and Sharma, too, is an MP, and the UK PM’s special envoy on infrastructure to India