United Kingdom
Additionally, the defence collaboration between the United Kingdom and India took centre stage as British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps hosted his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, in London. Trey Musk/Pexels

The ties between the United Kingdom and India were celebrated at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, where the UK Minister of State, Lord (Tariq) Ahmed, praised the dynamic connection between the two nations.

Lord Ahmed, who serves as the Minister of State for the Middle East, South Asia and the UN, also conveyed the warm greetings of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing the summit, Lord Ahmed stressed the pivotal role played by PM Modi in defining the "living bridge" between the United Kingdom and India. Despite the geographical distance that separates the two nations, Lord Ahmed highlighted the significance of the "living bridge" as a source of warmth and commonality, fostering a sense of unity and cooperation.

He acknowledged the shared values and common ground that serve as the foundation for the robust relationship between the UK and India.

Lord Ahmed said: "PM Modi, you defined the living bridge between the United Kingdom and India. I want to extend the greetings from my Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the son-in-law of India. This Summit has truly in every sense served as a master class on how to go about attracting Global investors."

The minister continued: "Our nations may be separated by thousands of miles geographically, but that vast distance can diminish with the warmth between our people, that living bridge and there is so much in common between our two nations..."

Expressing admiration for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Lord Ahmed characterized it as a master class in attracting global investors. He commended the efforts made by India to create an environment conducive to foreign investment, and he underscored the potential for economic growth and prosperity through collaborative initiatives between the two nations.

Lord Ahmed revealed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been signed to facilitate closer collaboration between higher education institutions in the UK and India. He expressed the desire to deepen cooperation in areas such as the creative economy, nurturing artists and enhancing cultural exchange.

According to Lord Ahmed, these initiatives would contribute to the continued growth of business links, creating job opportunities and fostering prosperity in both nations.

"Business links will continue to grow, creating jobs and prosperity. Whether it's from here in Ahmedabad to Aberdeen in Scotland, in the United Kingdom, our old friendship is blossoming into a new partnership..." he added.

The Minister's remarks were not limited to economic ties; he also highlighted the cultural and educational dimensions of the relationship. Lord Ahmed's emphasis on nurturing artists and boosting cultural exchange suggests a commitment to building a multifaceted partnership that goes beyond economic considerations.

Switching gears from diplomacy to defence, the United Kingdom announced its plan to send its Royal Navy's Littoral Response Group task force and the Carrier Strike Group to the Indian Ocean region in 2024 and 2025 for joint training with the Indian Navy.

British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, hosting his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, in London, discussed future cooperation in defence, ranging from joint exercises to knowledge sharing and instructor exchanges.

The comprehensive strategic partnership envisioned in the 2030 India-UK roadmap, announced a couple of years ago, was a focal point of the discussions between Shapps and Singh. The commitment to enhancing defence industrial cooperation and conducting joint exercises reflects the shared commitment to protecting critical trade routes and upholding the international rules-based system.

The meeting in London culminated in the signing of two significant documents: a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the conduct of a bilateral international cadet exchange program and a Letter of Arrangement between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on collaboration in research and development.

These agreements signal a commitment to fostering collaboration in education and research, laying the groundwork for long-term cooperation between the two nations.

During the India-UK Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable, co-chaired by Singh and Shapps, both leaders expressed optimism about the symbiotic relationship between the two countries.

Singh envisioned an enriching partnership with the UK to cooperate, co-create and co-innovate. Shapps accentuated that the defence ties transcended a mere buyer-seller relationship and were fundamentally a strategic partnership.

Representatives from major UK companies participated in the roundtable, including BAE Systems, GE Vernova, James Fisher Defence, Leonardo S.p.A., Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, SAAB UK, Thales UK, Ultra-Maritime Rolls-Royce, ADS Group and MBDA UK.

Their presence underscored the depth of collaboration in the defence sector, with a focus on addressing shared security challenges and advancing technology for the benefit of both nations.

"There is absolutely no question that the world is becoming increasingly contested, so it's vital that we continue to build on our strategic relationships with key partners like India. Together we share the same security challenges and are steadfast in our commitment to maintaining a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific," said the UK Defence Secretary.

"It is clear that this relationship is going from strength to strength, but we must continue to work hand-in-hand to uphold global security in light of threats and challenges that seek to destabilise and damage us."

Shapps highlighted the increasingly contested nature of the world, highlighting the need to strengthen strategic relationships with key partners like India. The commitment to maintaining a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific region was underscored, recognising the shared security challenges faced by both nations.

Collaboration with industry was identified as a key component of the strategic defence partnership, with a focus on electric propulsion systems and the development of complex weapons.