UK-India political and economic ties were strengthened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Britain, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK has said. Modi's visit from 12 to 14 November saw him hold several talks with his British counterpart David Cameron, resulting in trade deals worth £9bn between the two countries.
The prime minister also addressed British MPs at UK Parliament and had lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. High Commissioner Mathai noted the trip had been "spectacular" and commended Britain's decision to host 2017 and the UK-India Year of Culture.
Speaking at a Diwali Banquet in London on 23 November, Mathai said: "The visit has given a great thrust to political and cultural relations and boost to trade and investment between the two countries."
The British government has announced it will assist Modi's "Smart Cities" project by helping to develop three Indian cities. The project outlines plans to build 100 smart cities in India by 2022, which would be built to improve standards of living, while also ensuring the cities are sustainable for the environment. Britain has selected two cities in Maharashtra and one in Madhya Pradesh to contribute towards.
British Deputy High Commissioner Kumar Iyer said: "It would be our endeavour to develop these cities as smart cities for improved traffic, better education, and infrastructures after preparing a master plan in the near future."
Iyer is also the director general of UK Trade and Investment and said the recent deals signed during Modi's visit to the UK would be a "major boost" to trade between the two countries. The UK is the largest investor in India out of the G20 countries, while India is the third largest investment partner in the UK.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said: "In a country of certain size democracy cannot be created and if created it cannot be sustained. But India has proved to be a stable and vibrant democracy for the last 68 years."
Modi also addressed a stronghold of 60,000 British-Indians at Wembley Stadium during his visit, where he promised the Indian diaspora that the perception of India is changing that that he would make sure the country was "shoulder to shoulder" with the rest of the world.
"Whether it's the World Bank or the IMF, they all say India is the fastest growing economy," Modi said during his speech. "All rating agencies show positive feedback on India's economic growth. We are growing leaps and bounds in the ease of doing business."
Cameron also attended the welcome reception at Wembley Stadium, during which he hailed the contribution British-Indians have made to the UK.
While many have pointed to economic growth in India, others have criticised Modi for ignoring concerns of growing intolerance under his rule. He faced widespread protests during his visit to the UK, with thousands of British-Indians taking to the streets to demand justice over recent cases of communal violence, censorship and human rights abuses in India.