India got its independence from the colonial occupation in 1947. That’s 75 years of us being independent. However, successive governments in New Delhi had made it a policy priority to prostrate before the United Kingdom. Even the United States has had its fair share of tumultuous times with India. However, Indian leaders have always felt a sense of moral obligation to comply with London’s diktats. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as has been established in the past eight years, is no ordinary leader. So, his government is standing up to the United Kingdom rather decisively.
The Modi government has just cancelled the scheduled visit of a high-powered cross-party UK delegation to India led by the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, and his deputy. The 10-member strong delegation was composed of MPs belonging to both Conservative and Labour camps. The primary goal of the said delegation was to encourage progress on a UK-India free trade deal.
Objective Changed; Visit Cancelled
According to a report by The Guardian, the context of the British delegation’s visit changed after the invasion of Ukraine in February. Now, the delegation also looked at pushing India to pursue a pronounced anti-Russia line. Interestingly, all branches of the British government have been brought into use to pressure New Delhi to take a stand against Moscow.
Yet, New Delhi has refused to buckle. So, when the agenda of the delegation saw a drastic change, New Delhi decided to pull the plug on the planned visit as a whole.
The delegation, which was scheduled to visit Delhi and Rajasthan, saw its visit being cancelled after the Indian high commission raised objections at the last minute. According to the report, it is not yet clear if India’s issues were with individual members of the chosen delegation or related to a wider concern about British MPs being given a platform in India to urge PM Modi to take a more robust position.
India’s Message Loud and Clear
The United Kingdom, owing to its colonial mindset, is trying to spin the development. British media wants everyone to believe that it was London that called off the visit due to its discomfort with India’s position in the ongoing war in Ukraine. However, the reality is that it was India that chose to stand up to British pressure tactics and coercion.
As far as negotiations related to the Free Trade Agreement are concerned, India could shelve them as well. Pressure tactics do not bode well with Prime Minister Modi’s government. London will be well advised to not strongarm India into accepting the West’s line on Russia, because of two factors:
- India has very strong ties with Russia.
- India follows an independent and autonomous foreign policy.
By cancelling the visit of the British delegation, India has sent a stern message to all Western powers. New Delhi has made it clear that coercing India or building up a united front against its foreign policy decisions will have consequences. While London has been smacked quite hard by the Modi government, the tremors will be felt in Washington as well.
The United Kingdom still seems to be of the opinion that India is a country they can dominate. The Britons’ colonial hangover has not worn off, which is why they believe that New Delhi must readily obey directives issued to it by London.
The cancellation of the high-level British delegation’s visit to India is a big move that has been made by the Modi government. It will go a long way in making the Brits realise that they no longer own India and that New Delhi will not toe their line on any issue unless it serves our explicit national interests. India has just woken the United Kingdom out of its colonial slumber.