And British relations with the economic powerhouse should now widen out to focus on easing restrictions on free movement and better access to each other’s markets.
In his first British newspaper interview since taking up his post in London, His Excellency YK Sinha said the relationship between the countries had reached “a new level” and promises to deliver a “win-win” in terms of vital trade ties following Brexit.
He said both countries excelled in cutting-edge technology and “the sky’s the limit” for what they could achieve together.
YK Sinha said India can afford for the UK to stop giving it aid
Britain sent the world’s fastest-growing economy £279million in 2014 alone, and despite assurances by the Department of International Development that it stopped giving cash in 2015, plans are in place to provide a further £130million in “technical assistance” by 2018.
In the meantime, India has developed a space programme and recently even made history by launching 104 satellites on a single mission.
It has also proposed a £10billion fleet of warships and submarines and a £10billion bullet train, faster than anything in the UK.
YK Sinha gave a promising outlook for post-Brexit trade relations
India recently fired 104 satellites into space
Mr Sinha said foreign aid was now an issue of the past and the time was right for Britain and India to move forward together.
We are grateful for any assistance we received in the past
It never asked for the foreign aid and no longer needed it, he said, saying India had made “unimaginable” steps forward in the last decades.
“While I don’t want to prejudge British aid that has been given, or will be given, easier access to British markets, easier movement of people and the transfer of technology are more important,” he said.
“We are grateful for any assistance we received in the past or will get in the future. But if it suddenly stopped would it make a huge difference? No.
“Did anyone in the Government of India ask for assistance? No.
“India has developed over the last 70 years in ways unimaginable to my parents’ generation.
In the 1960s and 1970s we required a lot of assistance. We were importing food grains. Now we’re exporting.”
The seasoned diplomat, who described presenting his credentials to the Queen on Wednesday as “exhilarating”, said it was an “exciting time” in the relationship between the countries.
“We have a shared history and very much in common,” he said. “We have a very vibrant Indian diaspora of 1.5 million British citizens or dual origins who live here and contribute very meaningfully – 1.8 per cent of the population contributes around six per cent of UK GDP.
Philip Hammond is set to meet India's finance minister this month
We are very proud of this. India and the UK share a history, a strong foundation.”
And he is optimistic that Indian conglomerates like Tata, which employs 50,000 Britons across its steel works, Land Rover Jaguar and computer services, would remain in Britain after Brexit.
“I can’t speak for Tata and Britain hasn’t even begun negotiations yet,” he said. “But I feel there will be some sort of relationship between the UK and the EU which Tata and most Indian companies are comfortable with.
“We are in exciting times. Our partnership has gone to a different level. I’m confident it will be a win-win situation for us both.”
Brexit: Which parts of the UK had the majority vote?
Fri, February 17, 2017
Much of the North East of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union including Sunderland, Gateshead, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside, and Northumberland. Newcastle was the only borough to vote to remain, though by a narrow margin, which was likely due to its large student population and dependency on EU funding.
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GREAT YARMOUTH: The town of Great Yarmouth on the East Coast of England voted by 72% to leave the European Union.
Confirming that the Chancellor Philip Hammond would be meeting India’s finance minister later this month. He said one issue that needs addressing is freedom of movement between the countries.
"On our services sector, we have been arguing in favour of freedom of movement of professionals," he said.
“It is a very important part of the negotiations on free trade.
“Prime Minister May has made it clear that her vision is of a global British economy and that is something we welcome. We see an important role for India in this.”
He said India’s desire would be to have the same freedom of movement with Britain that the UK currently has in the European Union, though "we are managing our expectations on that", he added.
India was the destination of Theresa May’s first non-EU meeting. During that visit she made India the first country to have access to Britain’s registered traveller scheme, “offering many Indians smoother and swifter clearance at the border”.
Mr Sinha said a new Brexit trade deal between the UK and India would be a win-win
But a fall in the number of Indian students allowed visas to attend UK universities has recently worried the Indian government.
“The UK has always been the preferred destination for higher studies. Our political leadership, even those who led our independence, all studied in the UK.
“Britain has some of the fi nest institutions in the world,” he said. “It is unfortunate that in the last six years we have seen a steep drop, from 30,000 to about 16,000.
“What should be troubling universities here is that Indian students are now going in much greater numbers to the US, Australia – even France and Germany.
“There were pluses when Mrs May announced special categories of visas. More needs to be done.”
He praised the Queen’s commitment to India, as shown by Her Majesty’s decision to allow Buckingham Palace to be used to host the opening gala to launch 2017 as the UK-India Year of Culture.
And he described Wednesday’s ceremony, which he attended with his wife Girija, as “an exhilarating experience”. He said: “Her Majesty was extremely gracious and is committed to this relationship.”
●Jonathan Aitken will today call for foreign aid money to be spent on Britain’s prisons to prevent “daily attacks” on staff. The former Conservative minister, who was jailed for perjury in 1999, will tell Radio 4 that former justice ministers Michael Gove, Ken Clarke and Chris Grayling are responsible for a prisons crisis by allowing “unjustified” cuts to prison officer numbers.