UK needs better relations with India - here's how to do it

Richard Well is a suit, shirt and tie stood in a brightly lit reception area with Coventry University logo on the wall behind him

Richard Wells, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International)

University news

Tuesday 02 July 2024

Press contact

Press Team

Coventry University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International), Richard Wells, and Managing Director of the UK India Business Council, Kevin McCole, share their thoughts on the steps the new government could take to build better relations with India.

There are already deep ties between the UK and India but our next government must acknowledge it has work to do to develop the right relationship with what is a genuine global power.

Published in 2021, the 2030 Roadmap for India-UK future relations outlined the commitment of both countries to deliver solutions to global challenges while building on the strengths of one another. From trade and economy to climate, defence and education, this agreement outlines a comprehensive agreement between two allies focused on elevating relations while creating better futures. Continuing to better our relationship with India must therefore be a priority for the new government and here’s how they can do it.

Skilled labour

Producing skilled labour should be front and centre of any approach. A highly-skilled workforce can drive innovation and productivity, making the UK an attractive destination for Indian businesses looking to invest or expand while also increasing trade and economic collaboration between our two countries.

Skills development would also play a key role in enhancing our educational offerings, allowing us to attract more Indian students and professionals which would not only boost the education sector but also lay the foundation for the fostering of long-term collaborations.

Finally, cultural exchange and soft power is often overlooked in favour of more tangible results, however a skilled workforce that includes diverse cultural backgrounds can enhance mutual understanding and respect. This cultural exchange could go a long way in strengthening diplomatic ties and promoting joint initiatives in key subject areas such as health and net zero while developing the UK’s reputation in India.

Free Trade Agreement

Producing skilled labour should be supplemented by a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between our two countries. The economic benefits and the opportunity for growth are evident and a swiftly concluded FTA would go a long way in supporting both economic development and job creation in both nations. Combine this with improved market access and the conducive environment for business to operate in that an FTA would present and it is evident that this strategic move would enhance economic ties and support long-term growth.

From an education perspective, an FTA would also lend itself to knowledge transfer and the exchange of technology, innovation and learning. This could in turn spark advancements in various fields, including renewable energy, healthcare and information technology.

Running through all of this is the need to develop our own understanding of the growth potential and trajectory of India as a global power and what this can mean for the UK. The UK India Business Council works to build this understanding across industries and to help UK businesses forge partnerships in India.

Coventry University Group is already taking great strides to tap into this and building on existing relationship with India by expanding its operation in the region. The launch of its India Hub, for example, represents not only the university’s long-term commitment to building strategic collaborations in India but also its appreciation of the region as a global power.

This is an understanding which has developed and grown over many years and the university group is proud to work in collaboration with organisations such as KPIT and L&T Technology Services as well as the Institute of Technology – Bombay and GITAM University.

The 2030 roadmap sets the foundation when it comes to UK-India relations but the new government must do more if both countries are to continue developing and meeting the challenges of the future.