In an interview with iGlobal this week, the senior British Indian Cabinet minister spoke about what makes the new agreement so “groundbreaking” and also reflected upon the many dedicated drives being undertaken by the Indian diaspora in Britain to support India as it tackles a devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
How do you see the UK’s Covid India efforts making an impact?
We have seen really harrowing and terrible scenes over recent weeks in India. For all of us, they are personal because of the bond we have – and that's family, for people both in the UK and India.
Also, across the diaspora, through the mandirs, gurdwaras; everybody has come together to really help India in a great time of need.
The money that has been raised has been unprecedented, through voluntary means, through the diaspora community, that is each and every one of us making sure that we can be part of that giving. The generosity and support really, really matters; and it is making a difference in India as well.
Alongside, the UK government has given support but first and foremost it is the support of the Indian community in the UK that I think speaks incredibly powerfully.
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Can you reassure Indian students worried about their UK courses in this crisis?
We look at all of this through a case by case basis. Look at where we are with our own Covid roadmap in the United Kingdom. Our key focus right now is that we definitely want to continue to protect our own country from variants of concern, it is right that we do that through testing and the upstreaming regime that we have.
There are students from India coming to the UK to study, we have good processes in place through managed quarantine that are followed in the right way because they are there to protect them as much as to protect people here. And, for them to have the right foundation to start their courses.
The Department of Health, the Department for Education will be working through this with us. This isn't just about the Home Office, this is a whole of government effort.
It is big, it is significant, it is groundbreaking and it's a landmark agreement that will provide new opportunities to thousands of young people in the UK and in India seeking to live, work and really benefit from each other's cultures, but also professional opportunities that both our countries have to offer.
It speaks to the strength of the relationship. Our Prime Ministers have demonstrated the need to solidify the relationship and taken it to the people; it speaks very much to the living bridge.
This is an absolute tribute and testament to Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, for the leadership he is giving and showing to the UK-India relationship, but also as ever to Prime Minister Modi.
It is definitely down to the leadership of our two Prime Ministers and alongside it is a demonstration that our two home ministries can work hand in hand for the benefit of both our countries.
No Home Secretary from the British government has achieved that before, certainly in the timescale we have put together. That is a personal commitment, led by the Prime Minister, who has been at forefront of championing India when it comes to mobility and migration.