“I think the Quatum Leap is a great phrase. It stretches the imagination and that’s exactly what we should be doing. The DNA of India and the United Kingdom is deeply ambitious,” said during her address at the India Global Forum’s UK-India Week in London this week.
The Gujarati-origin minister referenced ’s visit to India in April, when he was in the “home state Gujarat”.
She noted: “I’m very much bilateral rather than multilateral. Institutions do serve a purpose but Prime Minister Modi has driven the bilateral partnership. I’m going to be very political now, I think our two parties are sister parties and that helps.
“Not only are the roots strong but they are accelerating and that’s because of the people to people ties. We are rooted together, people, education, skills, economy, we are vested.”
The minister in charge of visas and immigration hailed the high flow of Indian students into the UK as a sign of a strong diaspora living bridge.
She said: “We are going to have the highest number of Indian students come to the UK for the new semester year.
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“, are absolutely there for trade purposes. When it comes to people to people movement or migration, they should not necessarily be in trade agreements. We have introduced a points-based immigration system, a brand-new digital immigration system. That is up and running, it’s working. And, the nationality that tops the list is India. It’s high skill, sponsored by employers to work across a range of sectors.”
Asked about further opening up visas with an FTA, she added: “I think we should disaggregate this from the wider FTA. FTAs are the territory of tariffs and quotas, which does not apply to immigration. We want high skills and high wages.”
She was also asked about her Boris Johnson’s partygate troubles, having lost two important by-elections earlier this month, and her own prime ministerial ambitions to succeed him, which she dismissed.
She said: “I know my party pretty well. I have been involved with by-elections myself, where there are mid-term losses and it happens. We should not start wringing our hands and condemning ourselves.
"He [Johnson] will be the Prime Minister of our country and leader of the Conservative Party going into the next general election, I can guarantee that.
“It’s [becoming Prime Minister] not something I think about. I’m absolutely focussed on my job and my responsibility to my country and the British people.”
Besides a focus on the living bridge, the Forum entitled Reimagine@75 also covered other aspects of the UK-India relationship including digital and healthcare partnerships.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “India is one of our oldest friends and our relationship has never been stronger. One important area UK and India are working together on is anti-microbial resistance.
“India has helped us with vaccines. When India saw a big surge, we were able to help with PPE kits. India and the UK working together will be much better prepared for future healthcare risks. Covid was a catalyst for change in terms of digital use in and that will build up further.”
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He was joined on the Indian side by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who hailed the UK-India vaccine partnership.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, focussed on Shaping the Future of Digital.
He said: “We as policymakers have to look at data from the prism of user safety. We cannot do this as India alone or UK alone. This has to be a coming together of countries with similar values. Making sure that internet cannot be weaponised against our digital economy leads us to a conversation about whether data should be localised.”
*Info UK-India Week: ;