'Intolerant majoritarianism' and a less open India not aligned to vision of 'Global Britain': Chatham House

Presenting a vision for an influential ‘Global Britain’, a leading British think tank has clubbed India in the “difficult four” countries for the future strategic scenario for Britain. Calling India’s importance “inescapable”, the paper said developing the relationship will be a ‘complex task”

Jan 15, 2021
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Presenting a vision for an influential ‘Global Britain’, a leading British think tank has clubbed India in the “difficult four” countries for the future strategic scenario for Britain. Calling India’s importance “inescapable”, the paper said developing the relationship will be a ‘complex task”. 

The paper was presented by Dr. Robin Biblett CNG, the director and Chief Executive of London-based think tank Chatham House, where he drafted a blueprint for the future foreign policy for Britain so that it remains globally influential in the post-Brexit scenario. 

He called India, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia ‘the difficult four’ as the relationship with these countries would be economically beneficial for Britain but it may not serve better, or assist, the other goals of Britain.

“India will be the largest country in the world by population very soon and will have the third-largest economy and defense budget at some point in this decade. It is also an English-speaking country with a large diaspora in the UK,” he said hence it would always be among the list of the countries that a new government would commit to engaging. 

The bilateral trade volume, in goods and services, between the two countries stood at over $19 billion in 2019-20. During a recent trip by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, two-nations held discussions around the next 10-year bilateral roadmap, potential trade deals, and a new tariff structure in the post Brexit environment. 

Along with all potential benefits in Britain-India relation, the paper also filed a caveat, saying, “it should be obvious by now that the idea of a deeper relationship with India always promises more than it can deliver.” The legacy of colonial rule continue to curdle the relationship, the author said. 

While highlighting the limitation of India, he said, the lower per capita GPD makes its (India’s) goals less aligned with those of smaller and more developed economies. He pointed out the case of promoting democracy abroad. There, the approach of the two nations differs. “India shies away from joining Britain and others in supporting liberal democracy beyond its shores.”

The “complex and fragmented domestic politics” makes India averse to adopt more open and liberal foreign investment policies.

The paper also argued that gaining a direct national benefit, whether economically or diplomatically, from the bilateral relationship would be “challenging” for the British government. 

The paper pointed out the growing ‘intolerant majoritarianism,’ and “overt Hindu nationalism” of the ruling BJP in India. The shrinking space of civil societies and the government crackdown on human rights activists are no longer being challenged by the judiciary, it said. These concerns run counter to the vision of "Global Britain."

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