India–United Kingdom relations

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Indo-British relations
Map indicating locations of UK and India

United Kingdom

High Commissioner James David Bevan High Commissioner Ranjan Mathai
British Prime Minister David Cameron with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral, November 2014.

Indian–British relations are foreign relations between India and the United Kingdom. India has a high commission in London and two consulates-general in Birmingham and Edinburgh.[1] The United Kingdom has a high commission in New Delhi and five deputy high commissions in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata.[2] Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Historically, the UK ruled India for nearly 100 years before Indians gained independence in 1947.

In India, English is one of the official languages, and cricket is one of the most popular sports. In the UK, Indian cuisine is hugely popular. Britain imports most of its tea from India, and there are a number of words of Indian origin in the English language. India is the third largest investor in the British economy. The UK has an ethnic Indian population of over 1.6 million. Prime Minister David Cameron described Indian – British relations as the "New Special Relationship" in 2010.[3][4]


East India Company (1600–1857)[edit]

Trade was established between Tudor England and Mughal India in 1600 when Elizabeth I granted the newly formed East India Company a royal charter. After the Mughal Empire's decline in 1707, India was a leading manufacturing country in the world in the early 18th century. It had 22.6 percent share of the world's GDP, by the time British left the country its GDP was near 4%.During 18th century East India Company began to gain greater influence in India. The Battle of Plassey in 1757 led to the conquest of Bengal while by 1857, following various wars with Indian kingdoms (such as the Anglo-Mysore Wars with Tipu Sultan, the Anglo-Maratha Wars and the Anglo-Sikh wars), the East India Company had conquered most of the Indian subcontinent. Following the Indian rebellion of 1857, where Indian sepoys rebelled against their British officers, the East India Company collapsed the following year. The assets of the British East India Company became so huge that the British government decided to step in. India served as the main base for the British Empire's expansion across Asia and would remain the empire's most important colony until independence. Queen Victoria was named Empress of India. From a small trading outpost, India became the jewel in the British crown.

British Raj (1858–1947)[edit]

In 1858, the British Government assumed direct control of the territories and treaty arrangements of the former East India Company. In 1876, the area, which included modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, became "The Indian Empire" (often known historically as the 'British Raj') with British Monarch Queen Victoria proclaimed as "Empress of India" (a title held by her successors until 1947). The British Indian Army was established and assisted Britain in many wars, including the Anglo-Afghan Wars, the Anglo-Gurkha Wars, the Anglo-Burmese Wars, the First and Second Opium Wars, and both World Wars.

End of the British Raj[edit]

The Indian independence movement was established and rebelled against British rule, both through violent revolutions (as exemplified by Sardar Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose) and through nonviolent resistance (as exemplified by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi). India eventually achieved independence in 1947, leading to the Partition of India.

Dominion of India (1947–1950)[edit]

Further information: Dominion of India

Independence came in 1947 with the Partition of India into the union of India, and the Dominion of Pakistan, within the Commonwealth of Nations. King George VI, who as British Monarch had been "Emperor of India", abandoned this title in 1947, and served as India's ceremonial head of state as 'King of India' (in much the same way, he also served as 'King of Pakistan'). In 1950 India became a Republic and the link with the British crown was severed.

The Dominion was part of the Sterling Area (the Republic of India finally leaving in 1966).

Republic of India (since 1950)[edit]

India decided to remain in the Commonwealth of Nations after becoming a Republic. Both Britain and India have since pursued quite divergent diplomatic paths.

In particular, India became a major force within the Non-Aligned Movement, which initially sought to avoid taking sides during the Cold War. This contrasted with Britain's position as a founding member of NATO, and key ally of the United States.

However, relations between the two countries have generally been tolerable.

Due mainly to post independence immigration, there are now over a million people of Indian descent in the United Kingdom.


India is the third largest foreign investor in the UK, and the UK is also a significant investor in India.[5] There are many bilateral trade agreements between the two nations designed to strengthen ties. For example, in 2005, the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) was inaugurated in New Delhi aimed at boosting two-way bilateral investments.


Cooperation is undertaken under the Defence Consultative Group (DCG) formed in 1995. India and the UK cooperate in a number of ways. Joint Indo-UK exercise (a ten-day exercise Emerald Mercury was held in India in March 2005, the first of its kind between the two countries, which marked the biggest land deployment of British military personnel in India), research and technology and defence equipment collaboration.

Britain supports India’s case for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council as well as bilateral cooperation in civilian nuclear technology.

The UK and India also cooperate on security and terrorism issues.

The UK was unable to win the Indian MRCA competition, in spite of a billion pound aid pledge that International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said was intended to help win the bid.[6] India's former Finance Minister and current President of India, Pranab Mukherjee regards this aid as unnecessary and characterized it as "peanuts".[7] Britain has decided to withdraw aid to India by 2015, against the wishes of Save the Children who point out that India accounts for a quarter of all global child deaths.[5]


Politically, relations between India and the UK occur mostly through the multilateral organisations of which both are members, such as the Commonwealth of Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the Asian Development Bank.

Three Presidents of India have paid state visits to the United Kingdom: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in June 1963,[8] Ramaswamy Venkataraman in October 1990,[8] and Pratibha Patil in 2009.[8]

HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom paid state visits to India in November 1963, April 1990, and in October 1997.[9][10]

According to French diplomat Marc Fonbaustier, the relations between the two countries are key in the UK's geopolitical strategy in Asia because they share a base of common values. India is the hope for a Western style development based on democracy versus the Beijing consensus of state-guided growth.[11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]